Disney and Marvel Team Up

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On Aug. 31, Marvel surprised fans across the nation by announcing that it would be acquired by Disney. The acquisition will have a major financial impact as Marvel shareholders will receive $30 and 0.745 Disney shares for each share of stock they own, bringing the total price per share to nearly $50 each and $4 billion total.

The deal serves to benefit both parties. On one side, the deal will give Disney access to over 5,000 characters including Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, which will add to their already impressive stable of characters and help merchandising purposes. On the other side, it will give Marvel access to Disney’s massive distribution system, allowing them greater exposure.

“Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing business,” said Ike Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”

The deal has already been approved by each company’s board of directors but it is still being finalized and approved by Marvel shareholders. It must also be cleared by the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and various government regulation committees before it can pass. However, that has not stopped fans from speculating and asking questions. Specifically, many are wondering about the degree of creative control Disney will have over Marvel and whether it will change any of Marvel’s more dark and mature comic themes.

“Is Disney going to ‘Disney-fy’ Marvel’s characters?” asks Nick Ma, a first year mechanical engineering student, “Are the comics going to look cartoony? Are people still going to die? Is the Green Goblin going to stop killing people?”

Thankfully, Disney has made it abundantly clear that it will not interfere with what’s working at Marvel.

“There’s an appreciation of the characters and the stories that we have to respect and, frankly, we’d be silly not to respect,” said Tom Staggs, Disney’s chief financial officer.

Furthermore, the deal will unlikely affect Marvel’s current deals and future releases with Paramount Pictures, Disney’s rival in the film industry. The agreement, which has Paramount distributing “Iron Man 2” next summer, “Thor” and “Captain America” in 2011, “The Avengers” in 2012 and even a possible “Iron Man 3,” will still stay in place and retain its current production schedules. And Marvel is unlikely to change it’s previous arrangements and switch to Disney’s distribution system mid-production without generating controversy or legal complications.

Don’t expect a Disney logo to appear on a Marvel film just yet. One problem with this deal would be Marvel’s other deals that have given character licenses to other film companies. At the moment, 20th Century Fox has the X-Men, Daredevil and Fantastic Four licenses, while Sony has Spider-Man. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was a huge summer blockbuster with $363 million worldwide and has led to potential of another Wolverine sequel and a Deadpool spinoff, meaning that it is unlikely that Fox will give up that license without a fight. The same could be said for Sony, as all three Spider-Man films have made almost $3 billion and have lead to talks of another trilogy.

In any case, while the deal is still being finalized, fans will not have to worry about Disney ruining any of Marvel’s comics and movies since it intends to apply the same “hands-off” deal that it gave Pixar, which has worked well in the past.

So don’t expect Mickey Mouse swinging alongside Spider-Man on the silver screen. Don’t expect Iron Man going from alcoholic to chocoholic. And definitely, don’t expect Deadpool going anywhere near the Disney princesses.

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