Disney buys Marvel. What does it mean for Iron Man, Captain America, and (most important) you?
Captain America by Pixar? Spider-Man meets Mickey Mouse T-shirts? The possibilities suggested by the Walt Disney Co.’s no-one-saw-it-coming $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment last week seem endless — with emphasis on seem. Wall Street know-it-alls began wondering if Disney overpaid for a company whose best assets are currently controlled by competing studios. See: X-Men and Fantastic Four at Fox (which immediately announced it was rebooting the FF franchise); Spider-Man at Sony, which is developing three new flicks; and The Incredible Hulk at Universal, which also controls theme-park rights to many Marvel characters.
Disney honcho Bob Iger indicated that his company is cool with inheriting Marvel’s existing alliances (after all, it will share in the box office and merchandise booty generated by those movies), though the Mouse House may try to buy back certain rights instead of waiting for the licenses to lapse. Would Paramount, not wanting to line Disney’s pockets, try terminating its deal to distribute two Iron Man sequels, plus franchise launchers for Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers? Insiders say: Unlikely.
But the Disney-Marvel pact seems to be a long-term winner for both sides. With Disney, Marvel gets financial backing for its films and marketing muscle to promote comics to kids. Meanwhile, Disney gets a brand that’s always been relevant to boys — a weak spot in its media machine. Even without immediate access to Spider-Man and his amazing cash-cow friends, Marvel has thousands of characters to feed Disney’s film, TV, and animation business (Pixar is said to already be eyeballing an Ant-Man movie). As Iron Man proved, they don’t need to be iconic to become blockbusters. Says former Marvel exec Avi Arad, now an independent producer: ”Marvel has a youth library of untapped treasures.” Yo-ho-ho, Jack Sparrow: Let the plundering begin.
— Jeff Jensen, with additional reporting by Missy Schwartz
Publishing’s best week ever?
Mark the week of Sept. 14 in your planners, bookworms — it might just be one of the biggest weeks in publishing history. Marquee names destined to land on the best-seller charts that week: the late Ted Kennedy, whose memoir, True Compass, goes on sale Sept. 14; Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild), whose new book, Where Men Win Glory, about NFL player-turned-soldier Pat Tillman, hits stores Sept. 15; and Oprah Winfrey‘s latest book-club pick, which will be announced Sept. 18. And then there’s a little author named Dan Brown, whose third Robert Langdon tale, The Lost Symbol, falls into fans’ eager hands Sept. 15. That lineup has the struggling industry salivating. ”We need it,” says Publishers Weekly‘s reviews director Louisa Ermelino. ”Publishing is taking a lot of hard knocks. But Dan Brown is a force of nature. Oprah is too. And with Kennedy dying…I don’t ever remember a week quite like this.”
— Kate Ward