Two giants of entertainment are set to merge following Disney's move today to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4bn.
The surprise acquisition would see the company famous for Mickey Mouse and the Pixar movies grow to include properties like of Spider-Man and the X-Men.
In a statement, Disney said the move highlighted its "focus on quality branded content, technological innovation and international expansion to build long-term shareholder value".
The deal represents an added value of $30 per share for current stock-holders.
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,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
[Marvel CEO] Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney.”
We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation."
Perlmutter himself said: Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses.
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.”
The deal has been okayed by the Marvel and Disney boards but is awaiting anti-trust approval. The terms state that Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its 5,000 characters – Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and "will work directly with Disney's global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel's properties".
It's not yet clear what the move would mean for both the firm's video games interests.
The Disney Interactive Studios division has grown significantly in recent years, looking after both new IPs and the development of games based on Disney properties. It has slowly regained control over all its licences in the interactive space.
Marvel, however, licences out most of its properties for games via deals with Sega, THQ and Activision - only select online and digital-only projects are managed directly by its in-house interactive division. It's not yet clear if its new owner will seek to bring those licences back under its control.