A look back at Disney’s (very) winning bet when it bought out Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009.
We are August 31, 2009 when the news falls: Disney buys Marvel Entertainment for the sum of four billion dollars. At the time, the announcement had the effect of a thunderclap! The studio therefore buys Marvel Comics, Marvel Television and Marvel Studios at the beginning of the MCU then not yet divided into “Phases”.
Indeed, in 2009, only Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk have been released in theaters, Iron Man 2 is in post-production, and it takes a hell of a lot view to say that the movies Captain America: First AvengerThor will pose mythical characters and avengers become an international hit.
At the time, Ike Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment said:
“Disney is the perfect showcase for Marvel’s fantastic catalog of characters, with its expertise in the creation and management of merchandise. This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to continue its characters with the support the overall organization and infrastructure of Disney studios around the world.”
The reason for the takeover… the Disney parks?!
On the Disney side, the reason for this takeover is much more pragmatic: the male public shuns the firm’s amusement parks around the world, which is not the case for the female public, which is always there. Having developed the theme of princesses for years meant that little boys gradually lost interest in the brand.
Superhero films then seem to be a godsend for male audiences, with their bodybuilt heroes displaying unfailing virility, from Thor to Hulk via Steve Rogers or Tony Stark.
Additionally, the purchase of the Marvel Comics catalog and brand provides Disney with a publisher for merchandise derived from its successful franchises.
In addition, it must be noted that superhero films really begin to hit when the distribution force of Disney with its cinemas throughout the planet comes to serve Marvel Studios. The first are Avengers (2012) and Iron Man 3both of which topped $1 billion at the box office!
Feature films are starting to require more and more expensive special effects, and Disney can provide that kind of money to Marvel. As a result, writers and producers find themselves sprouting wings, and as long as entries follow, they can let their dreams of bringing their stable’s greatest heroes onto the big screen into computer-generated worlds unknown.
Phase 2 includes few huge achievements apart from avengers 2 (and again, it does a little less than the first) but in 2014, the Marvel creative team and Disney marketing manage to make Guardians of the Galaxylittle known heroes, a box office success.
Overall, starting with the Guardians and then Captain America: Civil War which launches Phase 3, few films will disappoint Disney in terms of admissions, except Doctor Strange and Ant Man 2. With more than 20 billion reported since 2012, the firm has largely repaid its initial investment.
The Disney Empire
It was not the first attempt of the House of Mickey since on January 25, 2006, it acquired the company Pixar for 7.4 billion dollars. Marvel followed, then barely three years later, on October 30, 2012, Lucasfilm, a company then owned by george lucas, for 4.05 billion dollars (half in cash, the other in shares). The big-eared firm therefore recovered all of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Willow films.
The Disney empire was therefore on the move, until the acquisition of 21st Century Fox for 66 billion dollars! Thus, the legendary studio’s catalog can enrich the Disney+ platform and the Marvel characters held by Fox (the X-Men, Dead Poolthem fantastic four and mutants in general) are returning to the Marvel Studios fold.
This opportunity allows Marvel to take a step closer to owning all the cinematographic rights of its characters and to imagine new stories by finding Wolverine, Professor Xavier or Mr Fantastic by introducing them in particular thanks to the concept of multiverse.
As will entrust years later Bob IgerCEO of Disney from 2005 to 2021: “Marvel did much better than we expected.”