*Update for 08/31/09*
Luke Skywalker Tatooine Moisture Farmer
Lord of the Rings Boromir
Indiana Jones Belloq
X-Files John Doggett
Tomb Raider Lara Croft
The Dead Babysitter
Reservoir Dogs (All 3)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Prophecy Buffy
Fantastic Four meet Mickey Mouse! The Walt Disney Company on Monday agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc for $4 billion in the year’s biggest media deal, banking on Marvel’s portfolio of superheroes to broaden its lineup of movie franchises that appeal to boys.
Disney adds Spider Man, Iron Man and Hulk to its roster of classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Snow White, and will feature the super-heroes in movies before rolling out associated theme park rides, TV shows and merchandise.
However, now is a tough time in the entertainment business, with advertisers avoiding spending on new campaigns and consumers cutting back on everything from DVDs to travel.
The deal is also expensive. It values Marvel at 37 times its estimated 2009 earnings, and offers shareholders a 29 percent premium to Friday’s closing price. Standard & Poor’s reacted by placing Disney’s credit rating on its negative watchlist, saying it may need to issue new debt even as earnings stagnate or fall in the recession.
But the risk of overpaying did not deter Disney from seeking out a deal to address an area of concern among investors: How can it better reach more young males.
“This helps give Disney more important exposure to the young male demographic that they have sort of lost some ground with in recent years,” said David Joyce at Miller Tabak & Co.
Disney has long been a blockbuster brand with girls thanks to characters such as “Hannah Montana,” “Cinderella” and “Snow White,” but has struggled to achieve the same kind of success with boys.
Movies including “Iron Man 2,” the sequel to the smash hit about a billionaire playboy with a high-tech suit of armor due to hit theaters in 2010, or 2011’s “Spider-Man 4” and “Avengers”, should help resolve that issue.
Disney will also be able to use its marketing and entertainment clout — stretching from ABC to cable television to theme parks — to promote and build characters such as Spiderman in ways Marvel never could.
The deal to buy the 70-year-old studio — which began life as an arm of a pulp fiction publisher in 1930 before bankruptcy, then rose to prominence in the past few years following Spider-Man — is Disney’s largest since the $7.6 billion purchase of Pixar in 2006, and it made waves.
Shares in DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc spiked 6.5 percent on speculation it too may become a takeover target.
But analysts raised questions about companies like Viacom Inc, Discovery Communications Inc, and Hasbro Inc that have existing business partnerships with Marvel. Hasbro stands to lose its chance to acquire valuable content for a new TV venture with Discovery, given that Disney is likely to hoard Marvel content for itself.
Disney agreed to pay a total of $30 per share in cash plus about 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share owned. The deal was approved by the boards of both companies.
The shares of Marvel, which was founded in 1939 and rolled out its first blockbuster character, Captain America, in 1941, shot up to a high of $49.29 before falling a bit to close at $48.37 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Disney approached Marvel a few months ago “to get to know them,” Disney Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs told Reuters. The overture began with a meeting between Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger and Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter and evolved into merger discussions over a series of meetings.
“We at Disney had admired them because of their position and asset base,” Staggs said. “With conversations over time we came to believe in the value of a combination.”
Shares of Disney, which will acquire ownership of more than 5,000 Marvel characters, fell 3 percent to $26.04. The deal is expected to close by year-end, but will not add to Disney earnings until fiscal 2012.
Though Disney stands to get a slice of some of Marvel’s hottest, upcoming slate of movies — including “Thor” and “Iron Man 2”, it would not gain in the short term from lucrative theatrical distribution fees.
Paramount Pictures said in a statement its five-picture distribution deal with Marvel remains in force. And Sony Pictures, the division of Sony Co behind the “Spider-Man” movies, can continue to make movies in the franchise, under an existing agreement.
The acquisition came as a surprise, even though Iger had mentioned recently the company would consider acquisitions that bolstered Disney brands across international markets and on new technology platforms.
While it could kick-start more mid- to small-sized deals in the media sector — where stocks have outperformed the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 this year — few analysts see another bidder making a play for Marvel.
A major reason is the presence of Marvel’s Perlmutter, who owns 37 percent of the company and will oversee it within the Disney empire. Perlmutter will trade his stake in Marvel for a 1 percent stake in Disney, but will not receive a seat on its board of directors — as did Pixar CEO Steve Jobs.
Disney executives drew a number of parallels between the Pixar and Marvel deals, and suggested it would keep the Marvel brand intact.
“The goal here is not to rebrand Marvel,” Iger said on a conference call.
And what do the fanboys — the ones who scrutinize every comic-book adaptation for faithfulness to the original — say?.
Stan Lee — the co-creator of Spider-Man and Chairman Emeritus of Marvel — says don’t worry.
“To me, becoming ‘Disneyfied’ is not a bad thing. I mean look at (Disney) movies like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,'” Lee, who parted ways with Marvel years ago said in a telephone interview with Reuters. “Disney knows how to do movies.”
Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, without a haunted mansion. Within three years, Walt decided to expand Disneyland, to include a new land called “New Orleans Square”, which would contain new shops, restaurants, and a haunted mansion. The foundation for the façade of the Plantation style mansion took place in 1962. Early concepts for a neglected looking house were replaced with Walt’s preference, a clean, well-preserved façade, which matched the pristine look of the rest of the park. Walt said “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside”.
Even though the façade was completed, it was an empty shell for years due to storyline problems and other distractions such as the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where Disney built the first version of “It’s a Small World”, among other state of the art attractions.
On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of lung cancer.
To be continued…
Sources: History Text (haunteddimensions.raykeim.com)
August 9th, 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. September 9th, 2009 (09/09/09) begins festivities related to this event. I have been a Haunted Mansion fan most of my life and will be blogging on the history of the HM over the next 10 days. I have collected HM items for many years; some which I have since sold and still regret. So, get into a Doom Buggie, pull the bar down, and come along for the ride.
Walt Disney began developing the concept of a haunted mansion nearly 20 years before it was actually constructed. Versions of a haunted house attraction appeared in early concept art during the initial planning of what would become Disneyland. Walt had planned to build a small “theme park” on a parcel of land across the street from his Burbank studios. Disney’s art director, Harper Goff, created a concept sketch for the proposed park called “Church, Graveyard, and Haunted House”, which depicted a gothic haunted house on a hill.
Originally, the haunted mansion was going to be located on an off-shoot of Main Street, at a dead end. Then it was going to be built in Frontierland (shown left in an early concept drawing). But eventually the whole project was put on hold.
Plans for the new park outgrew Walt’s eleven acre lot, so he purchased a much larger plot of land in Anaheim. He used the talents of artists from the motion picture industry to create the highly imaginative park. These artists and engineers became known as “imagineers”.
To be continued…
Sources: Main Photo (micechat.com)
History Text (haunteddimensions.raykeim.com)
Another interesting District 9 item on eBay – A custom Prawn mask. Right now it is selling for $700 with 10 bids. This is a full-size 1:1 scale reproduction of the Prawn from District 9. It is cast in thick high quality latex with foam rubber tentacles and plastic antennae. This piece features a multi-layered, highly detailed paintjob done entirely by hand. The piece is currently uncut for display purposes but if the winning bidder prefers it as a costume piece it can be cut for wearability for no extra charge.
This will end my series on the custom action figures for District 9. Next week I will talk about the big Haunted Mansion events at Disneyland for its 40th anniversary. Plus, lots of cool items from our Web site and new items in our Phoenix store. Stay tuned!