Monday, August 31, 2009

UPDATED! Disney Buys Marvel Entertainment!




It was announced this morning that the Walt Disney Company is buying Marvel Entertainment for a reported $4 billion. That there can buy a lot of churros and at least two annual passes to Disneyland. We were able to get our hands on Bob Iger's announcement to Disney Cast Members this morning:

From: Bob Iger [mailto:Bob.Iger@disney.com]
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 6:36 AM
Subject: Disney Agrees to Acquire Marvel Entertainment

Dear Fellow Cast Members:
I’m pleased to tell you we’ve agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment and its treasure trove of over 5000 characters in a transaction we hope to complete by the end of the year.

I’m incredibly excited by the acquisition. Not only will we combine the great characters and storylines of Marvel with those of Disney, but we will also bring together two groups of dedicated and very talented people.

Disney’s success has been built on the great storytelling skills, the technical artistry and the creative vision of its Cast Members and employees. At Marvel, Ike Perlmutter and his team have created real value by combining similar creative skills with a strong strategy and a disciplined and smart way of doing business. They’ve done a great job in extending and increasing the popularity of such Marvel characters as Iron Man, X-Men and Spider Man.

Like our own characters and stories, Marvel’s break through gender, age, cultural and geographical boundaries and have broad appeal on a variety of media platforms. These attributes make the Marvel brand, characters and stories particularly valuable in a world of increasing consumer choice.

Marvel’s business meshes perfectly with ours and what we’ve all been doing to maximize the value of Disney’s creative properties across our businesses, media platforms and geographical markets.

Our acquisition of Pixar three years ago exemplified our focus on creating high-quality, technologically innovative entertainment that appeals to audiences all over the world. The acquisition of Marvel offers us a similar opportunity to advance that strategy, to build a business that’s stronger than the sum of its parts and to drive Disney’s long-term growth.

We look forward to welcoming the Marvel team to the Disney family and to the exciting potential this combination offers.

For more details on the transaction, please read the press release which can be found by clicking here.

Best wishes,
Bob
But what does this all mean for Marvel and Marvel fans? It means that the mouse is now in control. They run the show kiddies. First and foremost you will start seeing Marvel items for sale in Disney parks and stores. Disney will be meeting with film producers to see the status on their upcoming slate of films (including 'Iron Man 2'), and I'm sure Imagineering is already looking at new theme park attractions. (more on that in a minute) But what will come of it? From what I have already gathered this morning, most Marvel fans are not in favor of it. They are looking at the potential Disney-fication of brands that they know and love just they way they are. While Disney is THE global brand, they have a lot to prove to fanboys. The moment they begin seeing TV, movie and theme park tie-ins and cross promotions is the moment that they lose them. But this is a market that Disney, until today, did not own. The young males. Unless they are producing 3D movies that star talking dogs or secret agent rodents, the young males aren't going to it. But they are going comic book movies. They are going to Comic-Con. They aren't going to Disney's new convention D23. But now they have a slew of characters to begin creating mediocre movies about. And believe me, they will.

While their product is strong, Disney has been out of original ideas for the past decade. If you read between the lines, as I do, this email pretty much says they need these new ideas. Everything Disney has done for the past years has been a re-hash of something else successful. This is why they bought Pixar. Pixar is the only entity that has been creating original products and stories for them, but Eisner almost lost them when he forced their hand into making 'Toy Story 3'. They were going to do it and jump ship. Eisner was then voted out and Pixar was quickly purchased after making amends with Walt 3.0 (aka John Lasseter). And now that they are owned by the mouse you will begin seeing sequels to every one of Pixars films over the next few years. Although they will be much better than all of the straight to home video sequels they have been pumping out for years.

What about the theme parks? This is an interesting question because right now Universal Studios is hoping that there is no clause in the contract that will take away 'The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man' ride at Islands of Adventure in Orlando. As a matter of fact in IOA there is an entire Marvel land, that also includes a Hulk rollercoaster. Will Disney/Marvel honor the licensing for this or are Disney's legal teams looking for loopholes to get out right now? I can easily hear the suits calling it, ".. brand confusion among consumers." It wasn't that long ago that Marvel had Universal Studios Hollywood stop using it's properties on any promotional material, or having it's name used anywhere in the park. They did get to keep the characters in the parks and sell their merchandise. And Marvel items are top sellers, along with Shrek items. (Both whose parent companies are now owned by Disney) Even if they are allowed to keep those things in place for now, I don't see them allowing these characters to stay in the Universal theme parks for pictures. Get ready to begin seeing Captain America in Frontierland and Dr. Doom on the Mark Twain dock (too soon?).

There is nothing that can be done about it all now. It's going to happen whether you like it or not. It's now up to Disney to pull this off correctly and prove to fanboys that Marvel will always be Marvel, they just want their money too. What say you? Will this be a good thing and lead to some great opportunities; Or will the 'Iron Man 2' theme song be sung by Miley Cyrus?

UPDATE:
It seems that we were the first to touch on the implications of the Universal theme parks and their relationship with Marvel. Others have now started discussing it, and seem to be doing a lot of loose quoting of our piece. Oh well. Universal decided they should release a statement in regards to what's going to happen at their parks. Take the jump to the LA Times for the statement.

8 comments:

  1. I'm headed to disneyland right now to kick Mickey in the nuts.

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  2. Maybe we can get Wolverine in the next Kingdom Hearts!

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  3. They call me Mister TubbyAugust 31, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    I hear to compete with them Universal Studios just bought Hello Kitty.

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  4. Stop killing my childhood!

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  5. The Spiderman ride kicks ass! It's the only reason my kids and I keep going back to IOA. That is until the open the Harry Potter area.

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  6. When is the Spiderman ride coming to Hollywood?!?

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