Of Dollars and Spidey Sense: Disney Has Much to Gain by Purchasing Marvel
Disney’s plan to buy Marvel Entertainment, Inc. for $4 billion opens up the gates of the Magic Kingdom to a whole host of new characters and helps complete the evolution of comics from a dime-store fringe market to a global economic powerhouse. Robert Iger, Disney’s CEO, is betting this Hulk of a deal will have an enchanted impact on their bottom line.
By combining the forces of Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men with Mickey Mouse, the Little Mermaid and Wall-E, Monday’s announced merger will allow Disney to market this varied group of superheroes, villains and children’s classics on multiple platforms. It also allows them to cater to a demographic less enamored by Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. “We view this as an opportunity to attract more boys and older kids,” Iger said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
As DVD sales continue to decline, there is more of an emphasis on selling alternative merchandise like toys and video games. The deal gives Disney rights to all 5,000 of Marvel’s characters and allows the company to continue to compete with Warner Bros. Entertainment, which owns DC Comics. The classic animation battle between Donald vs. Daffy Duck has matured to Spidey taking on Batman.
“It’s really a saga worthy of its own comic book,” said Heidi MacDonald, who writes Publishers Weekly’s comic blog, The Beat.
Listen to an interview with MacDonald:
After filing for bankruptcy protection in the 1990s, Marvel has enjoyed a resurgence as movies based on its characters have brought in big returns from the box offices and toy sales sky-rocketed. The Spider-Man series of films has already brought in more than $1 billion in total domestic sales.
One catch in the deal is that Marvel has already signed movie agreements with other studios for many of its more recognizable characters: Sony Corp. has a contract for Spider-Man; News Corp. controls the X-Men movies; and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures penned a deal for Iron Man. Disney will now gather the royalties for those projects, but will look to Captain America and a host of other characters for future films.
“For the rest of the comics industry I really think it is sort of an opportunity,” said MacDonald. “Traditionally, big, giant corporations aren’t that good at being nimble and really creating fresh new ideas, fresh new intellectual property, and I think for the rest of the comics industry, I think they will step up to the plate. It’s obvious we need these new characters, otherwise they wouldn’t be worth $4 billion.”