Obviously, this is going to be a big story for, like, well…forever. Although Marvel has been acquired and batted around many times in its 70-year history, Disney is…the final redoubt. Once you enter the House of Mouse, you stay there, especially when they flew you out for $4 billion. The acquisition/merger is even being seen as a kick start for the entire economy — it’s certainly the biggest deal of the post Great Recession world. CNN writes:
But if Monday’s mergers are the start of a trend, that might be an even stronger signal from Corporate America that the worst could be over. “It has been a slow period for mergers and it’s not that different from other recessions. But we’re cautiously optimistic about the deal pipeline. Hopefully, Monday’s deals portend good things to come,” said Mike Shannon, co-manager with the Merger Fund, a mutual fund that invests in stocks involved in takeover situations.
Yet, it’s with a bit of sadness that we contemplate the end of Marvel the rebel, Marvel the renegade. Marvel, whose public stock offerings and financials were readily available at a moments notice. The Marvel that hired Michael Kupperman and Jason and Johnny Ryan. That Marvel may stay around for a while, but it is far less likely to be a priority under the guidance of the biggest IP corporation on Earth.
We’re still collating reactions and speculations, but here’s a little cheat sheet:
- Movies: The NY Times has details. Current deals will stay in place, thus Marvel’s remaining five picture distro deal with Paramount — but Disney will want its piece of that pie.
Over the long haul, Paramount has the most to lose, as Disney works Marvel into its system. Only last September, Paramount, a unit of Viacom, announced an agreement to distribute five Marvel films, including two “Iron Man” sequels, over several years.
Disney said it would honor Marvel’s studio contracts, but the goal was clearly to bring “Iron Man” and others in-house over time.
“We believe Viacom is unlikely to retain distribution rights to Marvel films after the agreement,” Michael C. Morris, a UBS analyst, wrote in a research note.
In addition, the piece points out how Marvel was having some difficulty financing its own films — obviously a deal with Disney will clear that problem right up.
- TV: Here things look golden, as
Disney XD, a new cable channel aimed at boys, already licenses 20 hours of programming a week from Marvel. As Disney seeks to expand that channel, particularly overseas, Marvel will play an even greater role.
Disney was hoping to snag more boys with Disney XD, but until Marvel came along wasn’t doing too hot. Marvel has lots of TV deals but they are more short term and Disney’s existing TV animation infrastructure will be a boon here.
- Theme parks: Universal’s Adventure Island may be on shaky ground here. Perhaps when existing licensing deals run out, the Hulk ride can be rebranded as the Jolly Green Giant? Obviously, Disney will want to get the Marvel characters into its domestic parks (internationally, Marvel does not have deals in place) but it could take a long time.
On the other hand….can you imagine what Disney’s Imagineering could do with Galactus and the Silver Surfer? WOW.
- Publishing: Well, that’s a good question. We’ll have more on that tomorrow.
For a more informed take on all the above, check out Marv Wolfman’s blog. Wolfman is a former Marvel E-i-C and is the founding comics editor for Disney Adventures, so he has a good take on the bigger picture:
Publishing. Well, that’s the big one, isn’t it? At least for us. Actually, only for us. The big ones in reality are movies, TV and video games. One major video game hit can make more money than 95% of all movies. But let’s talk comics. What division will that fall under? Publishing? Movies? Consumer Products? Something else? What happens to Marvel Comics will depend on which Disney company it falls under and as of 1:30PM, I don’t know the answer to that.
On Wall St. reaction has been surprisingly mixed. Some people think Disney paid way too much for Marvel. The Motley Fool, however shares our sadness, and Tom Beyer, a long time Marvel stock enthusiast, is downright mournful, titling his post Mickey Mouse Robs Spidey
I’m going to make a lot of money today, and I’m happy about that. But as it so often happens with the very best businesses, this one is being taken out too soon, at too cheap a price.
Another poster on this financial message board rivals a Newsarama poster for outrage:
This is like disgusting in many levels……..
Disney has always been in their entire existence to buy out the competition or aquire it and then ruin the foundations it was based on. Although it may be a “sweet deal” to everyone who has stock Marvel will forever be a Disney product and I will not buy anything from Marvel again. 4 Billion is “chump change” to Disney, Marvel will “lose” out again in making more money on their own!!!!!!
I think this is a “bad” idea for Marvel to “sell out” to Disney I mean the reason Marvel is doing well is because of us “kids” who are now in to their 40’s and 50’s who still appreciate the characters we grew up with and totally support all of the merchandise involved with Marvel heroes.
Also, although Disney is the world beater in terms of licensing IP might, as this story on Disney’s handling of the Muppets, from the NY Times shows sometimes, licenses fall out of fashion despite the best efforts of all involved.
Ms. Breier said recent focus groups indicated that some children could not even identify Kermit and Miss Piggy, much less ancillary characters like Fozzie Bear and Gonzo the Great. The wisecracking, irreverent Muppets (a combination of puppets and marionettes) also don’t fit that neatly in the Disney culture, as they differ from most of the company’s bedrock characters in two big ways: Kermit and coterie were primarily created to entertain adults, and they live in the real world. Henson was so insistent that they stand apart from his “Sesame Street” creations in personality and tone that he (misleadingly) titled the 1975 pilot that would boost their careers “The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence.”
The linkage on this story will soon over take the world, but here’s a few more to keep you going:
Both companies would do well to invest themselves more fully in the digital space, as print media continues to decline. While most diehard Marvel fans are no doubt frightened at the concept interference that might result at the hands of a company like Disney (the term “Disneyfication” was not coined in a vacuum), Marvel could work such an acquisition in its favor.
After all, Disney no doubt wants a return on the estimated $4 billion it’s shelling out to buy the comics publisher; it’s certainly in the company’s best interest to see Marvel succeed. What Disney brings to the table in such a deal are tremendous resources in a number of areas, not the least of which is the digital space. From ESPN.com to Club Penguin, The Disney Interactive Media Group is a tremendous undertaking with the knowledge of what it takes to succeed in the online space.
- A David Lewis makes with the photoshop, from which the above image was taken. More good stuff in the link.
- A prequel: Sorry, Marvel — Disney’s the Superhero Stock
- An animation observer’s take
- Craig Yoe rolls’ out Jack Kirby’s take on Mickey
Two from the indispensable John Jackson Miller,
A Marvel Comics Timeline
And a concise, educational history of the history of Marvel’s attempts to become their own studio. A must read to get more historical context.
To think this day started out with Future Mr. Beat shaking me and saying, “Heidi, you’ve got to get up! Disney bought Marvel!”