Disney to acquire Marvel; problems for Islands of Adventure?
By Scott MarlowThe 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.
Published: August 31, 2009 at 8:53 AM
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.)
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