Make Mine Mickey?
So this is a bit of a shocker. Disney has just paid $4bn to buy Marvel and al of its IP.
This makes a lot of sense for both parties. Disney has a lot of success with content that’s appealing to young girls (think High School Musical, Hannah Montana, and Disney Princesses) but has struggled with content those appeals to boys and young adult males.
Disney launched the rebranded Disney XD to help bolster this demo but they need new content and a lot of their own properties skew away from this group. Now they get access to tonnes of unique, pre-existing established IP that has already proven themselves in every key media format – inducing of course theatrically where Marvel films both those made by Marvel itself and its licensing partners have made billions at the global box office.
Marvel brings with it an efficient team of creatives and executives like Kevin Feige and more importantly delivers Disney over 4,000 original characters. Of course that doesn’t mean all of them can be adapted into successful franchise but a lot of them can! Don’t forget Iron Man was seen as “B-list” character before Favreau and RDJ turned the character into a global superstar.
On the flip side this is also good for Marvel. Now finally safe from the crippling bankruptcy that plagued it in the late 90s, Marvel has gone from strength to strength mainly thanks to their movies masterminded by Avi Arad. The former toymaker understood the real value of their characters and made sure they licensed them into to Majors keen on big budget adaptations.
Now Marvel can leverage the strongest character based marketing machine in the world and expand its reach into untapped markets and platforms. Consider that Disney own theme parks all over the world, ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC Family as well as their film studios. Plus this also opens the door for a Pixar–Marvel team up. I’m sure someone at the company is right now trying to work out how they can incorporate Marvel into ESPN!
Disney will have to watch out for incoming shareholder and Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter. Perlmutter is known to be a tough negotiator (as we’ve seen for the hard deals Marvel Studios have drawn up for their casts) though maybe his discipline can help Disney when building their own internal franchises? They also get the afore-mentioned Kevin Feige who like Avi Arad before him brought Marvel back for the brink and is widely seen as the chief architect of the whole shared Marvel Cinematic Universe project.
You have to wonder how Warner Bros. will react to this news. Not only are they in my opinion Disney’s chief rival when it comes to big budget tentpoles – they are also the owners of DC Comics aka Marvel’s biggest rival.
But don’t feel too badly for current Marvel Studios distributor, Paramount. They will still get to distribute a few more films and have done very well from their agreement. Now is the time for them to step up and start building their own franchise stable – Nickelodeon has to be a priority – they are sitting on a potential goldmine.
Marvel chairman, Mort Handel, described Disney as a “perfect home” for Marvel’s huge library of characters. “Both companies have their roots in great storytelling and innovative artistry,”.
I can’t disagree.
So now the House of Ideas is owned by the House Of Mouse… What do you think the future holds?
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