Bob Iger says Disney Interested in Acquiring More Characters

Some diehard Disney fans would have you believe that back in the day, Disney used to create their own characters. Whether live action or animation, the early franchises were all created out of the minds of Walt Disney and his artists. Of course, while that was true for characters like the Fab Five, most of the other characters were lifted from fairy tales, children’s literature, or other myths and legends. That’s fine, we all pay the bard some time. Even Walt admitted his best stories came from years of research.

One interesting side-bit to come from this week’s investor call for The Walt Disney Company was that Bob Iger said he would “buy either new characters or businesses that are capable of creating great characters and great stories.” You can’t blame Bob, the Pixar deal has been a huge success and Marvel looks like it will pay off too (and they’ve only just scratched the surface of the 4,000+ characters in Marvel’s stable). Who needs to do internal research and artistic endeavors when you can just buy a new character, right?

I remember when adding Eilonwy to the list of Princesses was considered a big step, now it looks like the Disney universe is about to become a lot bigger. Of course, Iger was mostly talking about expanding into Asia by adding a Disney twist to some of those stories. But it sounds like if there’s another Marvel or Pixar out there, he wouldn’t hesitate to acquire it.

This raises some interesting questions. For the movie studio, there are only so many weekend openings you can schedule before you’re stepping on your own box office. That happened this year with Cars 2 and Winnie The Pooh, likely resulting in a smaller box office for each. Of course, there is the wide open space of the Internet and Disney’s various television and cable channels to populate as well.

Where do you think Disney should go with its expanded universe? Will you ever accept The Hulk and Captain America as part of the Disney stable? Or do they live in a separate track?

Update: Blue Sky Disney makes a good point… Via its theme parks, Disney already has an interest in the Star Wars universe and the Indiana Jones characters. If Bob Iger wined and dined his new friend George Lucas enough, could he get him to sell his stories to Disney? That would be quite a coup and seems like a natural extension of the two companies relationship right now. What do you think?

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22 Responses to Bob Iger says Disney Interested in Acquiring More Characters

  1. Chuck says:

    It’s too bad that with the wealth of talented artists and writers they couldn’t just hire some people and create sa new Disney division think tank…..call it “MouseWorks” if you will.
    (as in the “SkunkWorks” of Disney)
    I’m available by the way!
    Chuck~

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  3. Matt says:

    It’s not like they haven’t done this before. Remember the Power Rangers? Personally, I think they should make use of the characters they have now and let Pixar and Marvel come up with the new future franchises. Those two studios are really great at what they do, so let them … err … do what they do. Why not take advantage of the investments the company has already made? My two cents.

  4. Jay Rambo says:

    Let’s not forget the acquired characters of Jim Henson’s Muppets as perhaps the first (or maybe the second if you want to include Pooh & Friends)

  5. Hunt says:

    I think Disney should purchase other Characters and stories like with what they did with Marvel. But to me Marvel is on its own, its not part of the disneyverse for me. Now Pixar IS Disney, to me. The first Pixar film was Toy Story and that was great. Disney films and television all have a specific feel, but Marvel doesnt feel like it fits. It should be on its own. But if they could buy a company like Pixar and havetheir first movie be under the disney franchise, i would accept that. Does that make sense, LOL?

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  8. I think Disney should go for small stuff, like they did with the Muppets, but the characters from the family of a talented (but deceased) artist or novelist. The main example I can think of is Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Of course, he is the main who created both John Carter and Tarzan, both characters that pertain to Disney, with the classic Disney Tarzan movie and upcoming John Carter film (that looks great.) Also, both characters have a history with Marvel who made a set of comics for each character. I believe Disney should do small deals like that, but if another Pixar or Marvel does exist, and would fit great with Disney, I’d love for them to go for it. I admire the company a lot.

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  12. Matt says:

    Dreamworks Animation – right now with their market price they would cost less than either the marvel or pixar purchase. They have a great family of characters. Then there’s always Hit Entertainment (i.e. thomas the tank engine) which is for sale.

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  15. AbuDashToby says:

    I think what Disney did with Marvel and Pixar (and also with Pooh, the Muppets) was well done and advisable. As another poster pointed out, Pixar’s stable of characters fit well with the larger Disneyverse– Pixar just ‘feels’ Disney-esque. Marvel, on the other hand, doesn’t fit with the proper Disneyverse quite so much, mostly because of its largely superhero-based style (and its relative focus on fighting, battles, deaths, etc.).

    That being said, it doesn’t mean Marvel doesn’t fit well with Disney’s larger picture. Disney saw that a core demographic– young males– were being underserved; while young girls had quite a lot to keep them happy in Disney’s Princess bonanaza since the early 2000′s. Yes Disney has Aladdin, and PotC, and Tarzan and other very boy-friendly fare. But other, more recent efforts have fallen flat– like Atlantis and Treasure Planet. Thus, as any prudent business does, if Disney couldn’t organically grow what it needed, it looked to acquire from the outside. Hence, Marvel.

    To be sure, even though Marvel may not properly fit in the typical Disney park (even Hollywood Studios may be too much of a stretch for Marvel material), it certainly has the wherewithal to survive on its own– comic-based entertainment has thrived since Burton’s Batman (X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman Begins, all viable franchises). ESPN is an example of a Disney property that thrives independently while being much unlike the rest of the company. In fact, ESPN also serves the same purpose that Marvel does– serving males, except it’s for relatively older males. So Marvel was a smart move by Disney, and will help Disney better serve part of its target audience.

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  20. Patrick says:

    Expand in Asia … acquire characters?

    Acquire Toho Pictures and Godzilla. Imagine a Godzilla coaster at the Japan pavilion

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