So the big news from the land of nerds is the purchase of Marvel Entertainment by the Walt Disney Company. A lot of initial reaction seems to be disappointment and sadness. Comic book nerds are members of the “counter-culture” and Disney symbolizes the mainstream that rejected them. But I’ve seen some who defend the acquisition, saying that it’ll allow Marvel access to more resources and a chance to reach a new crop of fans. I’ve written in the past about the commercialization of nerd culture and what that means for us and the things we love. I feel this is only a continuation of it. I want to believe that corporations swallowing up comic books will preserve it for the long term, but the recent handling of a few of my childhood franchises has made me pessimistic. While trying to save them in the long run, comic books may die an early death due to losing its soul. But I could be dead wrong. I hope I am. Really.
I fell in love with comic books because they were abnormal, gritty, and the closest thing to reality that was offered to my age-range. Disney is none of those. Besides, Disney has horrible labor practices and is pretty racist. So they get another slice of the pie. It’s hard for me to support another corporate monopoly takeover.
But it’s funny how this has turned into a sort of “Marvel Civil War”, like Marvel’s Civil War. So as my title says, which side do you stand on? (VOTE IN MY POLL AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ENTRY!)
Disney to buy comic book powerhouse Marvel for $4B
LOS ANGELES – The Walt Disney Co. is buying . for $4 billion in cash and stock, bringing such characters as Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and WALL-E.
Under the deal, which was announced Monday and is expected to close by the end of the year, Disney will acquire the rights to 5,000 Marvel characters. Many of them, including the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were co-created by the comic book legend .
Disney CEO Robert Iger said Marvel’s comic books, TV shows, movies and video games amounted to “a treasure trove of content.” Iger said the deal would bring benefits like the ones Disney got from buying “Toy Story” creator Pixar Animation Studios Inc. for $7.4 billion in stock in 2006.
“The acquisition of Marvel offers us a similar opportunity to advance our strategy,” Iger said, and “to build a business that is stronger than the sum of its parts.”
For Marvel, Iger said being in the Disney camp would mean better global distribution and better relationships with retailers to sell its products. Another storied comic book maker, DC Comics, has been under the wings of a major studio since 1969, when Warner Bros. bought the home of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Marvel Chairman Mort Handel called Disney “a perfect home for our great collection of characters.”
One point of the deal is to help Disney appeal to young men who have flocked to theaters to see Marvel superheroes such as Iron Man in recent years. That contrasts with Disney’s recent successes among young women with such fare as “Hannah Montana” and the Jonas Brothers.
Marvel TV shows also already account for 20 hours per week of programming on Disney’s recently rebranded, boy-focused cable network, , and that looks likely to increase, Iger said. The shows are “right in the wheelhouse for boys,” he said.
However, analyst David Joyce of Miller Tabak & Co. noted that that the $4 billion offer was at “full price.”
Marvel shareholders will receive $30 per share in cash, plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share they own. That values each Marvel share at $50 based on Friday’s closing stock prices.
Marvel shares shot up $9.77, or 25 percent, to $48.42 in afternoon trading Monday. Disney shares fell 79 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $26.05.
Disney investors were probably unhappy to learn that the deal will reduce its earnings per share in the short term and might not turn positive until its 2012 fiscal year. Marvel is profitable — it made $206 million in its last fiscal year on revenue of $676 million — but Disney’s earnings per share will drop partly because the company will issue 59 million new shares. Marvel also is releasing two costly blockbusters, “Thor” and “The First Avenger:” in 2011, and income from DVD sales of those films likely wouldn’t roll in until fiscal 2012.
Disney said the boards of both companies have approved the transaction, but it will require an antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.
Although it began producing its own movies, starting with “” last year, Marvel has several deals with other movie studios that Disney said it will honor and re-examine upon expiration.
For example, “Spider-Man 4,” set for release in 2011, is being made with Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures; “ ” will be distributed by Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures next year; and the upcoming “X-Men Origins: Magneto” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2,” both due in 2011, are to be distributed by News Corp.‘s 20th Century Fox.
Iger said Pixar also had third-party licensing agreements that eventually expired, allowing the companies to move forward together.