Disney to acquire Marvel; problems for Islands of Adventure?
The Walt Disney Co. announced this morning
that it is acquiring Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock. The deal gives Disney ownership of Marvel's characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor.
This obviously could present a major issue for Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure, as the entire "Marvel Super Hero Island" is based off of Marvel characters, as well as other character use around the entire Universal resort. Personally, I don't see Disney allowing Universal to continue using the characters in their "direct competition" theme parks, unless perhaps Universal would be willing to pay a good sum in royalties/usage rights.
Update from Robert: Lots of good information (as well as rumors/wishful thinking) in the comments. Inside sources say that Universal's deal with Marvel gave it exclusive use of the Marvel characters in theme parks east of the Mississippi (*which might be temporary) and its license for existing IOA characters is in perpetuity. Does that mean Disney will have to pay Universal to use the Marvel characters in Walt Disney World?
Also, we have a discussion thread going on what Disney should do with Marvel.
Update 2 from Robert: I've been canvassing industry insiders and the consensus seems to be that this is a play by Disney to do better in the "tweenager" boy market. Disney's recent efforts in that age group have been almost exclusively aimed at girls.
You'll see this play out first on Disney Channel, with new animation series aimed at tweenager boys. They won't be the adult-oriented versions of the characters from the films, but more like the original, more kid-friendly versions.
After Disney Channel, then the most successful franchises from cable TV will be developed for animated movies. You'll likely see an afternoon parade at California Adventure in a couple years, as well.
Only after Disney's had several years developing the Marvel characters within its cable and movie outlets will there be serious thought about theme park attractions. The DCA rehab/expansion will be completed first, as will the WDW Fantasyland work to be announced next month at D23.
That leaves plenty of time for Disney to analyze the viability of a third (Marvel-based) park, or Marvel DCA expansion, in Anaheim and to pursue a possible buy-out deal with Universal to get the rights to develop attractions in Florida.
Thanks to my industry insiders for their insight. (And my apologies for that awful sentence.)
Disney to Universal: "I will see your Harry Potter, and raise you one Spider-Man."
WOW!!! I can't believe it. Well, since I have two little boys who adore superheroes and Disney, this simplifies my vacation planning.
I'm guessing it depends on how long Universal's contract with Marvel for Islands of Adventure is for, and how it is affected if Marvel is bought out [ie- does it have a guarantee to remain as is, or will it be renegociated?]. Their contract for the California Universal theme park expired not too long ago.
As it was stated during the conference call. Disney is not looking to interrupt Marvel's current deals and agreements. They are simply looking to be a vehicle to expand the exposure of Marvel.
It is likely that Universal bought licensing rights to the attraction through perpetuity. Stay tuned!
I have a message in to Universal Orlando's PR crew looking for a comment on the length of its license deal.
So Disney gets money for Universal using Spiderman for the ride? Brilliant!
Oh man thats sweet. I can see a whole new land at DHS now based off of marvel. However i will be sadened if spiderman does have to close at universal. That would be a disaster!
Well, one thing is for sure. If and when the Marvel heroes migrate to WDW... the costumes on the walkaround characters won't look like cheap, off the rack Halloween costumes anymore.
The deal's already done for the Marvel characters in the Universal parks. So Universal should not have to pay anything additional to Disney, unless the deal had an expiration date and Universal wants to continue it. (Awaiting word on that.)
Is that why Michael Bay was checking out the Spiderman ride at IOA a few weeks ago? Now is the time they could convert it over to a Transformers ride.
That's an interesting rumor I'm willing to help spread... ;-)
Right! Maybe Uni can capitalize on this Hasbro deal that they made so many years back. G.I. Joe and Transformers can inhabit and walk around the IOA in no time. Isn't Ron Howard penned to do a 'Stretch Armstrong' pick? Ine door closed but the window is still open
There are times I want to take the journalist in me out back, tie him up and gag him, so that I can let my inner rumor-monger run free.
I've never been a huge Disney fan after going for several years and being disappointed by the lack of great rides at the parks. MGM (Hollywood as they call it now) definitely has the best assortmanet.
Has else wondered whether Universal actually holds exclusive rights for the use of Hulk and Spiderman in a theme park medium? Meaning even if Disney owns the character likenesses in comics, television and movies it does not necessarily mean it has rights to use them in their theme parks.
I think it's time Universal goes ahead and starts acquiring the Japanese anime/manga market and licensing deals. With the internet and www so prominent in society now, that's where the real teenage boy demographic lays - at least with regards to the fantasy/action adventure types. It's all probably a little too edgy for the Disney folks.
Good move for Disney to grab a highly visible, highly popular franchise to fill some gaps. I'm sure there will eventually be a whole park and hotel themed to the Marvel characters. The huge success of the movies streaming out of Hollywood and the merchandising are probably the biggest factors in the purchase, but I'm sure that Disney will use Marvel to the fullest extent.
From the Orlando Sentinel: "Universal's contracts apparently gives it exclusive U.S. rights east of the Mississippi River for theme-park attractions built around certain of those characters, notably Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Dr. Doom."
The big question. How many years are said contracts for?
I am so excited for Marvel to come to Disney. We are insane Marvel fans and Disney runs in our blood. I just hope the Marvel initiative is seen within the Disney parks themselves. Wow! This deal must have been very hush hush for no one to have even speculated a rumor that this was possible. There are SO many directions Disney could take using the Marvel characters however I don't see a great way to integrate the two. I don't see Ironman flying over Cinderella's castle anytime soon! It would be great to see a revamp of Tomorrowland that uses futuristic superheroes.... I think?
The contract is for virtual perpetuity.
This means Disney will earn all the film revenue from next years Iron Man 2, and the forthcoming Spider-Man 4 and Thor.
Statement from Tom Schroder at Universal Orlando: "Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal's Islands of Adventure and the Marvel characters are a beloved and important part of the Universal Orlando experience. They will remain so. Our guests are going to get to meet Spider-Man and all our other Marvel characters. We believe our agreement with Marvel stands and that the Disney/Marvel deal will have no impact on our guest experience."
I know this is kind-of streching it a little but we have heard for awhile that that Rock N' Roller Coaster was losing Aerosmith. Maybe they will convert it to a Ironman or Captian America?
One more rumor I can get behind!
The Spider-man films are a separate contract that Sony made with Marvel. Disney will not make any money from that film. Same goes with X-Men and Fox. The others, however, yes.
Inside source whom I know to have knowledge of Universal's licensing deals just told me that Universal Orlando's main deals with outside properties (e.g. Spider-Man, Hulk, Men in Black, etc.) have been for perpetuity.
Dan writes: we have heard for awhile that that Rock N' Roller Coaster was losing Aerosmith. Maybe they will convert it to a Ironman or Captian America?
Disney doesn’t need Marvel like Universal does, that scares me being a HUGE Marvel fan. I'm afraid they will just sprinkle pixie dust all over it and dumb it down like they do everything else.
And how funny is it that Universal will be selling Disney owned products (for example, Spider-Man action figures) in its gift shops?
Oh and by the way: Disney's acquisition of Marvel is a MUCH MUCH BIGGER DEAL than Universal acquiring the theme park rights to Harry Potter.
I can’t wait for the “It’s tough to be a Marvel Super Hero ride”
More From The Orlando Sentinel: "Marvel has several long-term agreements in place already with various other companies for many of its characters, including movie deals with Paramount, Sony and Fox, for such characters as Iron Man, X-Men, Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor. Those contracts will be honored until their terms expire, which could be several years or more in some cases.
There seems to be an anti-Disney thing going on here :)
Of course, Disney took the idea for Pleasure Island from Church Street Station.
This just in, Disney will retheme most of its rides to Marvel.
It's really quite amazing to consider the impact of this acquisition. This is so much bigger than Potter and has the potential to create an extraordinary revenue stream in every corner of the company (parks, films, television, retail, etc.).
Upcoming Disney (owned) Films
Disney stock is at $26 – I may have to buy some now…
I think Disney needs to come up with some of their own ideas instead of just buying everybody else's properties left and right. Other than Pixar movies...there haven't been any movies I'd consider "classics" since Lion King.
To add to Robert's reason for Disney buying them:
Anonymous post: I think Disney needs to come up with some of their own ideas instead of just buying everybody else's properties left and right
Been out of pocket lately but had to come back to TPI and see what everyone thought about this. I say congrats to Disney for pulling something like this off. They knew they needed to respond somehow to Universal and Harry Potter. I would say they did so with a bang. I have always been a bigger fan of the Universal parks but I can't even imagine some of the coolness Disney is going to dish out in 3-5 years after all the capital starts rolling in from movies and product.
while I am enjoying all of the wild speculation about what the disney/ marvel deal could mean, I think we have to try and be a little more practical. Unless disney wants to engage in another "what's the difference" battle like that which happened when mgm and universal studios opened within a year of each other, I see no reason for them to use the marvel characters as a major draw to their parks. Mostly because there is already a major theme park doing it right next door (As well as almost every six flags in the country) I know big time fans will know that Marvel is different then dc etc. but to most moms and dads buying the ticket one is just as good as the other. I see them getting a lot of use in movie land and maybe a cool new themed dinning experience at DTD. Now as for this being a bigger deal then Harry Potter... dream on, TWWHP is going to change the face of universal and the kind of draw it has as a "lifestyle" vacation. Its new and never been done, superheroes at theme parks is so 1999.
Professional Wrestling is popular and dumb...why doesn't Disney buy that, too?
Anon writes: Now as for this being a bigger deal then Harry Potter... dream on,
There is no doubt that the Marvel deal will make the Disney corporation far more money than the Potter deal will make for Universal.
Does this spur NBC/Universal to counter with an acquisition of its own? (Busch? DC? Sesame Workshop? Just throwing names out here.)
I am a comic fan. I lost all respect for Marvel Comics. If Disney dictates what goes in the comic books, like Watering down the Punisher, then I wont be reading Marvel comics anymore.
Thank you, Disney... and on my birthday too! Wow, what a great present!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Rao. Mine is on Wednesday.
alright, too bad this dosent make any sense. think about it. its DISNEY. DISNEY bought MARVEL. MARVEL has nothing to do with DISNEY. DISNEY has nothing to do with MARVEL. and if they take marvel super hero island, or even (the worst thing) change the spiderman ride to TRANSFORMERS, i am going to be pissed, because the transformer movies sucked. and still, IT DOSENT MAKE ANY SENSE!!!!!!
It's funny since we're on a site called TPI, that we all naturally assume this will cause wholesale changes in the theme park arena.
This is a postive move forward for Disney. I don't see Universal losing it's attractions and/or themed land if the contracts are as ironclad as some are suggesting, but it does my heart good knowing that they'll be selling Disney merch at their parks.
Vincent S writes: I am a comic fan. I lost all respect for Marvel Comics. If Disney dictates what goes in the comic books, like Watering down the Punisher, then I wont be reading Marvel comics anymore.
I can't wait to book my next cruise on the Disney MARVEL!
I bet Marvel will more or less stay the same. Disney owns Touchstone and a ton of other "adult" movie studios. Heck, they own the American Pie movies. AMERICAN PIE MOVIES! I doubt you could get any raunchier than that with the Marvel Characters.
Anthony writes: "Heck, they own the American Pie movies ... I doubt you could get any raunchier than that ..."
...and the "American Pie" franchise is owned by Universal.
Interesting how many posts so far. Out of all posts, I agree most with Andy G. Like Robert stated early, Disney is trying to "balance out" its offerings to attract a much more even fan base! Universal is doing something of the same with the Potter Land.
Here's a nice summary of the theme park licenses for each character according to insider sources:
Nikki, as she often is, is spot on with this analysis. Meshes with everything I've heard.
Sorry, I was wrong. American Pie is, irnoically, Universal. I saw somewhere that it was owned by a Disney movie company.
The only thing I would add to Mr. Niles' list is:
My teenager daughter and son summed it up quite nicely this morning. My daughter said "I thought Disney was the happiest place on Earth" to which my son replied "Now Disney is the greediest place on Earth". Enough said.
Anthony is right.
I think Universal will sell Marvel merchandise as long as it makes them money.
Another great article about "What Disney Gets":
I just hope Disney doesn't kill the Spider-man ride, which would be an abomination and an affront to all theme park fans. In fact, it would be pure spite.
One perspective: The Marvel deal is old Filmed Entertainment and Feature Animation pols way of putting John Lassiter and his merry band at Pixar back in their place. The 'One Brand All Parks' strategy is Iger's direction to eliminate perceived redundancy of individual branding and localization of Disney parks. With Disney's Marvel characters, whole departments at Pixar (whose sole purpose is the invention of interesting, compelling new film characters, or as marketing thinks of them, brands) are now rendered redundant.
I think that it is a brilliant idea on Disney's part. There are many young boys who are into the Marvel characters, but find Universal Studios geared too much towards the older crowd. Since Disney deals alot with the princesses (and maybe now a few pirates), this will allow the younger crowd of boys to enjoy their Disney trip even more without having to travel to another theme park (and pay). It'll all be in one place! And it makes family vacation planning cheaper and easier. It is a shame for Universal if they have to give up their Islands of Adventure, but Disney is always trying to update their rides/attractions and try to find something new and exciting for every member of the family to keep up the attendance. This will be good for them. Universal is going a little stale with their attractions and if they didn't have the $ to nab the contract, then they need to find something else to keep the park around.
The first thing that came to mind after I heard about the Disney/Marvel deal is a 5th park at WDW geared for the boys market that Disney has so little to offer. All of the little princesses get their day at the Magic Kingdom and the little princes could have their day at Marvel Kingdom. Will they get their own makeover salon at Downtown Disney as well?
Call me Goofy (or Pluto),this may seem very far-fetched but....What if this Marvel purchase is a bit deeper then we are all thinking.
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