Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You've Got Marvel In My Disney

So after a far too long break from the subject, let's pick up where we last left off, shall we?

What does this mean for the theme parks? Will we have Marvel characters roaming around the Disney theme parks for photo ops with the kids? Maybe. What's going to prevent that from happening anytime soon is Marvel's existing deal with Universal Studios. Universal's Islands of Adventure has an entire section themed to the Marvel superheroes. I've never visited it myself, but based on the pictures I've seen I think Marvel Superhero Island could be altered to fit another theme without much difficulty. I don't know if that will happen though. Disney will honor Marvel's contract for as long as it will last, which happens to be for as long as Universal wants it to. I think their only real incentive to drop out of the deal would be because they wouldn't want to promote characters owned by their biggest rival. The theme park deal is apparently exclusively for the east coast however. So we might see Marvel characters at Disneyland long before we see them at Disney World.

What does this mean for the merchandising? I think the only company more willing to license their properties to various manufacturers than Marvel would be Disney. Any existing contracts will be honored until they end. After that I think some of the simpler licenses will be streamlined. For example the same company that makes Hannah Montana lunchboxes will also be the one that makes Spider-Man lunchboxes, assuming they don't already. There probably won't be much change for higher-end stuff. The toys will be tricky. If I had to guess I'll say that Disney will let Marvel do what they please. If this was the '90s when Disney had a close relationship with Mattel then things might be different. These days Disney makes licensing deals with half the toy companies in the country. The only major impact a Disney owned Marvel will have on the merchandise may be exclusive items sold at Disney theme parks and retailers.

What does this mean for the video games? I can't imagine there would be much difference under Disney. The video games will be treated just like any other type of licensing. As we've seen with Kingdom Hearts Disney has a lax view on how they let their characters be used for games. And what about Kingdom Hearts? Will we see Sora teaming up with the Thing and Silver Surfer? Or for that matter will we see Mr. Incredible and Uncle Scrooge in a new Ultimate Alliance game? I'm skeptical of that happening. (Especially the latter.) With the long lead times required to develop games we know it won't be in the works anytime soon. Ask me again in 2015.

What does this mean for the Spider-Man musical? In case you haven't been keeping tabs on this, you should know that Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, the big Broadway musical scheduled to open in February, has been hit with some financial woes. Disney has its own theatre division and has adapted many of their properties for the stage. Will Disney take over the funding and production of this musical? It's looking like that's a big no. So after all my rampant speculation I can finally deliver a clear answer. Sorry it's a negative one. Although in all honestly I could live without ever seeing Peter Parker belt out a tune. Even if it was penned by Bono and the Edge.

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