Disney merchandise rang up a record $40.9 billion in 2013

Characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars appeared together on stage Monday for the first time ever as the entertainment giant touted its powerhouse brands ahead of the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.

According to Variety, Disney is once again the world's top licensor, with a record $40.9 billion in retail sales last year, up from $39.4 billion in 2012. With looming films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, based on Marvel comics, the live-action Cinderella and Star Wars: Episode VII, plus the Star Wars Rebels animated television series, that seems unlikely to change in the near future.

Josh Silverman of Disney Consumer Products said the first merchandise for Marvel's highly anticipated Avengers sequel will arrive in stores in March, about two months before the film's release. “Timing reveals of characters with marketing materials is very important,” he told the website. “If filmmakers don’t want to release images of the bad guy, we don’t want to come out too early with our products.”

Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion and Lucasfilm in $2012 for $4.05 billion.

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