Mickey Mouse just got an edge.
The family-friendly multimedia empire has just successfully purchased the comic-book staple for a reported $4 billion, Disney already expressing interest in bringing the Marvel character catalog into their existing film and television outlets. This combines the over 5,000 characters of Marvel Entertainment with the near-century long Disney history, with hesitation rising on the consumer front on whether this mesh will affect either company’s respective image. The deal came through with 60% hard assets and 40% stock, and one of the largest corporate business deals of the year. Marvel will also bring in the more intense, male-oriented audience that the Disney brand has lost it’s formerly air-tight grip on in recent years.
Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, said Marvel has a “treasure trove” of intellectual property that “transcends gender, age, culture and geographical barriers”. “There are so many opportunities to mine both characters that are known and characters that are not widely known,” he said.
Marvel’s chairman, Mort Handel, described Disney as a “perfect home” for his company’s library of characters. “Both companies have their roots in great storytelling and innovative artistry,” he said.
Marvel Entertainment had once filed for bankruptcy in 1996 due to slumping comic sales, but has recently rebounded with an in-house movie production studio, complete with box office successes like 2008’s Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Rights for other films based on the comic book company’s licenses are still up for grabs; Sony Picture’s Spider-Man franchise making it unlikely for them to relinquish the rights, fans may debate a different picture for Twentieth Century Fox and their X-Men film rights, however.
“This helps give Disney more important exposure to the young male demographic that they have sort of lost some ground with in recent years,” said David Joyce, a media analyst at stockbroker Miller Tabak. “When you look at the kind of TV shows on their cable networks, and the Disney consumer products line for the princess and fairies – the Hannah Montana kind of stuff – it shows that they have a lot of strength addressing the young female demographic.”