In the tangled web of mergers and acquisitions, Spider-Man will have a new home at Disney. The company made a surprise announcement yesterday about its $4-billion offer to purchase Marvel. Disney, which has a lock on the pre-tween set and Jonas Brothers-crazy tween girls, hopes to capture more elusive tween--and older--boys in its web by luring them with Marvel's cast of popular superheroes. Expect to see Disney flex its considerable marketing muscle with Marvel-based TV shows, movies, merchandise, video games, and other spin-offs.
But, what might the Marvel deal mean for Disney's theme parks? And what will become of the Marvel characters at other theme parks?
The Marvel acquisition seems to raise a lot of questions. For example: Would Captain America feel at home on Main Street, U.S.A.? Or are the testosterone-laden Marvel characters a breed apart from Mickey and the gang? Disney has successfully introduced third-party properties, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the Muppets, and most famously, Pixar, into its parks. The Marvel universe offers a rich library of over 5000 characters to tap.
In an interview about the deal on CNBC, Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger said, "There's a universal appeal to a lot of (Marvel's) characters." An interesting choice of words, given that archenemy Universal Orlando features Marvel Super Hero Island with its Hulk and Spider-Man attractions at its Islands of Adventure park. Spider-Man can also be found at Universal Studios Japan. And an entire Marvel-themed park (which has nothing to do with Universal) is under development in the United Arab Emirates. In an apparent reference to Universal, Iger says that existing licensing deals would prevent Disney, at least in the short-term, from using the Marvel characters at all of its parks. It's mighty strange to think that Universal would have to fork over licensing fees to Disney once the acquisition is finalized. It's a sure bet that when Marvel's contract with Universal is up (assuming it's not in perpetuity), Disney wouldn't be too keen on renewing it.
All of this raises one final question for you, theme park fans. Take the following poll to let us know how you think Disney should use the Marvel characters at its parks. Then click on "Comments" below to join the conversation and share your thoughts about the Disney-Marvel deal.