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Disney Buys Marvel In $4 Billion Deal

Disney Buys Marvel In $4 Billion Deal

August 31, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

August 31, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

The Walt Disney Company has acquired comic book and movie producer Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, bringing some 5,000 iconic characters under the Mouse's purview.

Marvel continues to produce comic books and license its characters for multimedia uses. In recent years, it has expanded to funding and producing its own feature films like Iron Man, as opposed to licensing its own characters to third parties for those.

The acquisition is likely to have wide-ranging implications for the license-reliant video game industry, with major Marvel-licensing publishers including Sega and Activision, and Gazillion's upcoming Marvel Universe MMO.

Disney CEO Robert Iger commented: "This transaction combines Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories."

Marvel says it stands to benefit from Disney's ability to spread IP across multiple arenas. "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world," says CEO Ike Perlmutter.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approval before it's finalized, although both companies are in agreement. Perlmutter will stay on board with Marvel to assist in the integration.

Gamasutra is reaching out to parties in the video game industry most likely to be affected by the deal for further information on its impact, and will update with any comment we receive.

[UPDATE: On a call to investors attended by consumer weblog Kotaku, Disney said it's unlikely to take the entirety of Marvel video game development in-house.

"On the video game front, (Marvel) have some smart licensing agreements with some of the best video game manufacturers in the business," Disney investor relations SVP Lowell Singer said. "While we have been steadily moving in the direction of video game integration, we don't rule out the blend of licensing and self-produced and distributed video games."

"As these licensing deals expire we have the luxury of considering what's best for the company and the products."

According to Kotaku, Disney SVP Tom Staggs also said he sees "real opportunity" in Marvel's broad character library, and that the company would look at "how we can leverage those across both Marvel and Disney."

In a phone call with Gamasutra, Disney VP of strategic communications Jonathan Friedland added, "Activision, THQ, and so on -- these are companies that Disney has worked with in the past, and I don't see a huge amount of problems here [in regards to licensing deals]...]

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