As you’ve heard from CBR, pretty much every news outlet in the world, and probably multiple emails from family members who know your hobbies, The Walt Disney Company is acquiring Marvel Entertainment in a $4 billion deal. The move, initiated by Disney CEO Bob Iger several months ago and formalized over the past couple of weeks, sees Marvel shareholders receiving $30 in cash, plus 0.745 of a Disney share, for every Marvel share they own. Marvel remains under the supervision of CEO Ike Perlmutter, who will work with Disney to integrate Marvel’s 5,000-character library and other intellectual properties into Disney’s multimedia empire.
Though the emergence of specific details is more like a trickle than the explosion that was the announcement itself, we’re starting to learn some of the key points, largely through Disney’s morning investor conference call.
The New York Times reports that Marvel’s production and distribution deals with Disney rivals Sony, Fox and Paramount for the Spider-Man, X-Men and Avengers-related film franchises remain in place. Kotaku notes that this is also true of Marvel’s video-game deals, though they’ll be re-evaluated as they expire. Disney CFO Tom Staggs tells Paid Content that Disney’s creative model for the Marvel acquisition is the purchase of Pixar and subsequent hands-off approach to the animation studio; he also noted that the success with Pirates of the Caribbean offers evidence that Disney can handle more male-oriented, action-heavy fare.
Speaking of Pixar, The Hollywood Reporter, uh, reports that Pixar CEO John Lasseter has already met with Marvel personnel; “Sparks will fly,” said Iger of the potential for collaboration. More on the deal can be found in sketched-out form in liveblogs of this morning’s conference call at The Wall Street Journal and The Comics Reporter.
Wall Street’s reaction? As of the writing of this sentence, Marvel’s stock is up about 26% today, while Disney’s is down around 3%. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Corkery speculated that Disney may have paid too high a price in the deal given the nature of Marvel’s film and publishing wings as a “cyclical business” at the mercy of changing tastes and economic circumstances.
As you’d expect, this is the talk of the town for nerd-news commentators. Johanna Draper Carlson wonders about the future of comics publisher BOOM! Studios’ deal to produce comics starring The Muppets (another of Disney’s outside acquisitions) and Universal Studios’ Marvel-themed Islands of Adventure theme park attraction. Cinematical’s Elizabeth Rappe waxes melancholy over a Marvel future filled with “family friendly, mythology-be-damned, direct-to-DVD offerings,” though it seems worth noting the creative trajectories of Pixar and Pulp Fiction home Miramax while under the Disney umbrella. But some corporate marriages are less happy, at least from the outside perspective of fans, as Topless Robot’s Rob Bricken seems to be keeping in mind when he compares the deal to the rocky road DC seems to be traveling with its corporate parent Warner Bros. in terms of getting non-Batman superhero movies off the ground.
And they say August is a slow news time!
(Chris Mautner contributed to this report.)