Disney ups testosterone with $4bn Marvel deal

Spider-Man and Iron Man to join High School Musical and Hannah Montana

Disney is to buy Marvel Entertainment, the comic book company whose cast of characters includes Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and 5,000 more, in a deal worth $4bn (£2.5bn).

The takeover, announced yesterday, is designed to bring more testosterone to Disney, which has enjoyed more recent success with characters and films appealing to girls, such as High School Musical and Hannah Montana. In-house Disney franchises appealing to boys are fewer and further between.

"We would love to attract more boys, and Marvel skews more in the boys' direction, although there is universal appeal to many of its characters," said Bob Iger, Disney chief executive. "Marvel's is a treasure trove of characters and stories, and this gives us an opportunity to mine characters that are well known and characters that are not well known."

Marvel traces its history back to the publication of some of the first comic books at the end of the Great Depression, and has prospered by using its characters far beyond their original home inside comics. Licensing deals have spawned toys, games, television series and – most lucratively – movies. Hollywood studios have reached deep into the comic book library to find characters that can be turned into movie franchises. Spider-Man, licensed to Sony Pictures, grossed $2.5bn over three films, and a fourth is in the works. Last year, Marvel hawked out its relatively obscure Iron Man and turned in one of the highest-grossing opening weekends of all time for a new movie franchise. Thor and the first Avenger movie are slated for release in 2011.

Disney is tied into Marvel's existing Hollywood character licensing deals for the time being, but said it would start rooting through the toy box for new ideas immediately.

Reflecting the links between comic book culture and Hollywood, the annual Comic Con International convention in San Diego has expanded into a giant media event attended by more than 125,000 people, studded with celebrity appearances and featuring the launch of a vast range of new books, films and toys and television franchises. Disney aims to muscle in with its own version of the event, called D23 Expo, running next month for the first time.

Disney is paying around $50-a-share for Marvel, made up of $30 in cash and the rest in stock, a 29 per cent premium to the Marvel share price last week. Its shares rose 25 per cent on the news, but fell back slightly in the afternoon, while Disney fell 3.5 per cent in afternoon trading.

Advisers to Disney first approached Marvel a few months ago, and "getting to know you" meetings between Mr Iger and Marvel's chief executive, Ike Perlmutter, developed into full-blown merger talks.

"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters, given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Mr Perlmutter. "This is an opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's global organisation and infrastructure."

This month Marvel reported second-quarter revenues of $116.3m and a profit of $29m. In its most recent quarter, Disney had sales of $8.6bn.

Investors and analysts hailed the acquisition as a good fit for Disney, albeit an expensive one. The deal also signals a return of confidence to the media industry, which has been nervously hoarding cash since the credit crisis began.

"This helps give Disney more important exposure to the young male demographic that they have lost some ground with recently," said David Joyce, an analyst with Miller Tabak.

Disney's last major acquisition was the $7.4bn deal in 2006 to buy Pixar, the animation studios responsible for Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. Pixar and Marvel will collaborate on future ideas, Mr Iger said, and "sparks will fly".

Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
i100Most young people can't
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Head of Service and Support (Financial Services, ITIL, ORC, TT)

£75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of Service and Support (Financial Ser...

Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, JAXB, ...

Service Delivery Manager - ITIL / ServiceNow / Derivatives

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading Financial Services orga...

Senior Quantitative Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home