It still feels awkward to me seeing Spider-Man and Captain America in Disney California Adventure in Anaheim and Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando. Long-term contracts and corporate acquisitions have made it so that Disney characters occupy an entire land in a Universal theme park.
And Marvel isn't the only example. An announcement today about this summer's D23 Expo provides a reminder that another family of characters prominently featured in Universal's parks now belongs to Disney.
D23 announced today that it will feature "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, along with producers Al Jean and Matt Selman, director Mike B. Anderson, and voice actors Nancy Cartwright [Bart] and Yeardley Smith [Lisa] in a D23 Expo panel at 10 am on Saturday, August 24 in the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from the Disneyland Resort.
Simpsons characters will greet fans on the D23 Expo sow floor and every fan at the Saturday morning panel will get "an exclusive Simpsons collectible item," according to D23's press release. A few select fans will get the opportunity to meet Groening and the panelists in a limited autograph session for one hour after the panel, too.
Disney acquired The Simpsons when it closed the deal for Fox earlier this year. But that deal does not affect the contract that Fox signed years ago with Universal giving them the exclusive theme park rights to The Simpsons in its US theme parks. (I am wondering that deal will prevent Disney using its Disney Parks blog and signage at the Disneyland Resort to promote The Simpsons events at the D23 Expo, since those might be considered "theme park use" of the characters.)
Universal operates The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, with the latter anchoring an entire Simpsons-themed Springfield land at the park.
But if you want to see the creative talents behind the citizens of Springfield, you'll have to head down the road to Anaheim in August. Saturday-only and three-day tickets for the D23 Expo are sold out, but tickets for Friday and Sunday remain available, which covers the Disney Legends enshrinement ceremony on Friday and the big Disney Parks presentation at 10:30 am on Sunday.Tweet
Much like with Marvel, Universal will continue to treat the Simpsons Intellectual Property well. And Disney gets to have substantial marketing, merchandise, and product awareness smack-dab in the middle of their most direct competition's property.
I'm sure that Disney would prefer to have control over their own IP, but I'm also sure they see benefit in having their greatest competitor actively providing quality cross-promotion.
Besides, I'm sure they will get the rights back eventually. After all, how much longer can the Simpsons go on? (<- Words first said in 1995)
I always thought Matt Groening had the rights himself for theme park use and merchandising etc.
Kind of funny how the Simpsons always bashed on Disney and WDW and now Disney proudly shows them off at D23.
It's an odd thing to show off in my opinion. I know they're a lasting cultural icon... but honestly they're on season 31 but they haven't been relevant since season 8. They purchased a legacy brand.
I think The Simpsons are being presented, not so much for any theme park connection or potential, but specifically for Disney+......which will be the exclusive streaming home for all 30 seasons (+) of the series.
I'm not sure The Simpsons (merchandise included) organically fits in any Disney Park.....now that could always change, but this D23 presentation seems like it has more to do with Disney+ than with the theme parks.
I'm a die-hard Disney fan, and honestly, this one is hard to swallow. Yeah, I get Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, but including The Simpsons in D23... it feels borderline heretical. It just doesn't fit with the Disney brand, and I don't like seeing them force the issue.
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As long as Monty Burns earns for Scrooge McDuck, no worries. Though Homer would have voted for donuts in the fried treats poll this weekend, as far as The Simpsons theme park rights go, it's all about the "D'Oh":)