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David Poland

By David Poland

The One Where Mickey Eats The Hulk

Disney’s acquisition of Marvel is cheaper than its acquisition of Pixar. But it is also a much more dangerous play.
Unlike the Pixar deal, which included the talent (Lasseter) to revive a somewhat moribund in-house animation business as well a very strong, if very annually limited production partner, Marvel is a straight character play with some real question marks about how its movie future will play out.
Iron Man is theirs, outright. But Paramount will eat the distribution gravy off of the top. Spider-Man is, essentially, Sony

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14 Responses to “The One Where Mickey Eats The Hulk”

  1. jeffmcm says:

    More media consolidation.

  2. Martin S says:

    Softness with the teen male demo was becoming huge issue without Pirates and nothing to replace it on horizon. So Pirates booty is literally Marvel.
    Lot of theme park talk, naturally.
    Disney XD is getting prepped to be the new Cartoon Network. Marvel/Disney were much more linked overseas than stateside. As I wrote earlier, all cartoon rights from the 60’s – 80’s were locked up with Disney, (save FF cartoons at HB), who wouldn’t sell or distribute. Marvel had broadcast rights which shifted from Fox Kids to CN to XD an number of years ago.
    Re-aquisition of the Disney Stores is another lost factor. Plans for big exclusive collectibles.
    Will be interesting to see how Hasbro factors into this. They have deals with Marvel and Disney. Marvel as a license and Disney XD for Hasbro-created properties.
    No one will talk about the Marvel credit line and where it figures into the 4Bil.

  3. IOIOIOI says:

    Disney are about as milquetoast as a company can get. Marvel — at least as a comics line — do comic after comic that do not fall into the freakin Disney wheelhouse. Hell, Tony Stark is about as anti-Disney as a character can get, and these milquetoast fuckers own his rights? Really? It’s a terrible fit, and I hope it fails to get approval.

  4. LexG says:

    IO, I don’t know… The Stark of the IRON MAN movie was pretty much on the same lovable scoundrel level as Captain Jack Sparrow; Yeah, he womanizes and drinks a little up front, but all within 1994 NBC Must See TV standards, and the whole movie’s shot through Respecto-Sheen.
    Not exactly like he was taxing chicks and freebasing like the fucking Bad Lieutenant. And 90% of the audience was small children, so it’s not like the Religious Channel just bought up Spice TV, like you’re making it seem.
    But I’m guessing we won’t be getting any more awesome Punishers.

  5. Eric says:

    I wonder if Disney would consider licensing out characters (e.g. Punisher) for outside films if they don’t want the character associated with the Disney brand.

  6. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I posted a similar comment over on Poland’s Favorite Other Blog, but I just don’t get this.
    It’s well documented that roughly only 20% of acquisitions create value while over half destroy value. There’s no economies of scale to be gained here, there’s virtually no synergies between the lines of business, and few resources that either company doesn’t have on their own or can’t get relatively easily through a licensing agreement in the open marketplace. Spiderman, one of their most lucrative properties, is currently held in a separate joint venture entity so technically isn’t covered in this acquisition.
    If Marvel were having credit problems (as some people have speculated), then Disney really DID overpay and if they wanted a slice of Marvel’s non-feature film elements then they should have bought a minority stake. Instead they cough up a roughly $50 for shares that were trading at $30 and have to go through a costly integration process.
    They’re going to have to increase profits by about $300million over what they brought in separately for 10 years to break even on this deal. I just can’t see how the numbers can justify it.

  7. Martin S says:

    IO – you don’t have much to worry about. Iger is buying the company because they cater to you and a younger male demo. They’re not going to soften the company because it defeats the purpose of the buy.
    Supposedly, Iger sees it as another Pixar arrangement and not a Borg devouring of the company. I tend to believe him since Perlmutter, Maisel and Feige are remaining in place and overseeing Marvel productions. Still no clarification as to who owns the credit line, but the appearance is that Marvel has its own money to work with and if a problems arises, Disney steps in.
    As for the actual comics…good be great with all of the Disney outlets, or could be bad since the entire branch doesn’t turn a profit.
    That THR blog about the lawsuit is toothless. Stan was a hired gun from his first days at Marvel. Martin Goodman was the owner during the halcyon days and sold in the late ’60’s. Stan never owned the company, just ran it for decades. I love Stan, but Stan Lee Media was a debacle from word one. Unless a judge decides to re-write the concept of work-for-hire and throw the entire copyright universe into chaos, Marvel wins.
    This is highly bittersweet for me. I don’t like to see Marvel go away as an independent company, but this has always been inevitable. It should open the path for new competition that Marvel has spent decades devouring or squashing.
    What it most certainly does is firmly cement the superhero film as a stand alone genre next to horror, sci-fi and fantasy. There’s no going back now.
    A lot of strange feelings over this. Sort of like being Ahab and watching someone else kill Moby Dick.

  8. Martin S says:

    Foamy – Marvel has zero female audience and Disney was getting weaker with all male demos above 12. People bullish on Marvel think Disney got a massive deal.
    The plus side to Spidey is Sony pays for it, Disney collects a check. Eventually, Sony is going to want to go halvsies because production costs are not declining. Once that occurs, Disney will re-work the overall deal. Same thing is heading for Fox.
    Iger two-stepped the question if anyone else was interested in Marvel. Someone was and while Paramount is the obvious choice, my hunch is Dreamworks floated a partnership.

  9. Martin S says:

    I should say Dreamworks from several months ago, pre-Disney deal.

  10. Wrecktum says:

    “Disney are about as milquetoast as a company can get. Marvel — at least as a comics line — do comic after comic that do not fall into the freakin Disney wheelhouse. Hell, Tony Stark is about as anti-Disney as a character can get, and these milquetoast fuckers own his rights? Really? It’s a terrible fit, and I hope it fails to get approval”
    Ha ha ha! This is too rich. I can’t believe how much fun I’m having reading this!! HA HA!!

  11. IOIOIOI says:

    Oh shut up, you freakin butch ass. Seriously, if you enjoy being a man, then go buy a better pair of pants lady. Seriously, figure out if you are xx/xy, then get back to me. The fact that someone like you, a female posing as a man, is not fucking banned. Amazes me.

  12. Foamy Squirrel says:

    @Martin – 2 issues I have with that.
    First, demographics are a horrible way to segment market. Anyone who ever went to highschool (and I assume that’s most of us) knows that “male teens” is not an homogenous segment. The jocks rarely mix with the geeks, who rarely mix with the soon-to-be-hipsters, who rarely mix with the soon-to-be-dropouts. These groups listen to a diverse range of musics and buy a diverse range of products because they have different tastes. There are a few universals that don’t divide along these lines (mainly technologies like iPods etc.) but for creative properties including movies there are distinct differences.
    One of my old mentors trained brand managers at Louis Vuitton in Paris. He used to say, “The average American has one testicle. If you made a product for someone with one testicle, how many people do you think would buy it?”. Assuming that male teens all think similarly (they don’t) is the same as assuming female teens don’t read Marvel (they do – and you should visit to find out how pissed they are that people think they don’t).
    The second is WHO CARES if Disney and Marvel are weak in certain market segments? McDonald’s acquiring the Body Shop so they can appeal more to the ecological movement would be a stupid move because there’s little to be gained between the two customer bases, and the same is true here. Paying for market share that produces minimal profits is just poor corporate management.

  13. martin says:

    Reminds me of OliverStoneLand:

  14. Martin S says:

    Foamy – good points.
    I totally disagree with the female comic reading factor. I spent over a decade analyzing the business of the comic industry and the fem factor is about as negligible as you can find. Even if their has been an uptick in the past several years, it still wouldn’t account for more than 5% of the readership, on the generous side.
    As for the male demo, something Marvel, and WB did with Batman), crossed a large swath of them. While I see your point about distinct groups, you cannot narrowcast a 150Mil picture at one piece and expect success. Marvel’s entire history is based on the fact that they defied the stereotypes. In the early 60’s, comics were selling and geared to young kids only because of all the insanity surrounding EC Comics and Seduction Of The Innocents. Then Marvel comes along and while still targeting that same age demo, Stan, Jack and company were able to write and draw characters that pulled all the way into college students. That’s what Disney was buying.
    You then have the factor that young kids, pre-high school cliques, all watch cartoons. When Spider-Man opened I spent many a meeting explaining to people that it was going to be the biggest opening ever because Spider-Man had existed in some medium or another for decades. So you didn’t have to read comics to have watched Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, or “Friendly Neighborhood” in 70’s syndication. Now the latest group of college students were born in the era of Fox Kids – which, through several different cartoons over as many years, firmly established hundreds of characters. The entire success of Singer’s X-Men was predicated on the longevity of that cartoon. The mistake studios made for decades was to look at them through the comic prism and not see them as animation akin to GI Joe or He-Man. If anyone gets this, it’s going to be Disney. I mean, Jeff Iger’s father, (or grandfather), was Will Eisner’s original business partner in the Golden Age of the 30’s.
    As for weak markets and who cares – Disney apparently does. After the age of eight, they are hemorrhaging boys to Nick and Cartoon Network. Pixar has a wide appeal, but that is still capping off in the tweens. Iron Man, Thor, Namor…these fit the Pirates/Transformers formula.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon