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Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ help Disney to tighten grip on licensing

by  in Comic News Comment

As Licensing Expo 2013 gets under way today in Las Vegas, Variety reports that with first Marvel and now Lucasfilm beneath its umbrella, Disney is poised to expand its domination of the entertainment licensing market. Last year, the media conglomerate generated $39.4 billion in retail licensing, and claimed a staggering 80 percent market share.

Once again the world’s largest licensor, Disney now boasts six of the Top 10 franchises, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association: Disney Princess (No. 1), Star Wars (No. 2), Winnie the Pooh (No. 3), Cars (No. 4), Mickey & Friends (No. 6) and Toy Story (No. 8). Disney Fairies comes in at No. 11, trailed at No. 16 by Spider-Man.

Star Wars, Marvel’s Avengers and Spider-Man, and Disney Junior programming will be given prominence in new content and merchandising programs beginning in September.

Disney of course has a lot riding on Star Wars, which it acquired last year as part of its $4.05 billion purchase of Lucasfilm, and Marvel, which it bought in 2009 for $4 billion. Both are viewed as a way to target boys, an audience that’s slipped away from the House of Mouse in recent years.

Marvel’s moves are more immediate, with Iron Man 3 opening last month, following by Thor: The Dark World in November, Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy in August 2014, and The Avengers sequel in May 2015. But that’s only on the movie front; the animated Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. joins Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man in August as part of Disney XD’s Marvel Universe block, and the live-action Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres this fall on Disney-owned ABC.

And don’t forget Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, out next summer, which Disney says will be “a key part of a consistent web of Spider-Man focused content support for the next few years.”

Meanwhile, the animated Star Wars: Rebels is shooting for a fall 2014 debut on Disney XD ahead of the summer 2015 arrival of director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII, which kicks off a new big-screen trilogy, accompanied by a series of standalone films.