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5 Franchises Disney should consider buying (or at least renting)

Star Wars and Marvel are two big intellectual property acquisitions for Disney that are already paying off (to put it mildly). Not that Disney is in the market to add more franchises to its collection, but Bob Iger has said they would make the move if everything worked out right. In reality Disney doesn’t even need to buy them, it might just want to, license the IP rights for animation, comics, and theme parks. Some of these acquisitions may be strategic too. As we found out with Harry Potter, not owning theme park rights can result in gains for your nearest competition instead of you.

Here are 5 franchises Disney should add to its stable:


Lord of the Rings: Hollywood rumors have this as the hottest property in town. All the movies are in the book and theme park rights are being sold (one is opening in Spain soon). Disney needs to do what it takes to secure the rights for theme parks domestically. Not because I want a LOTR park as a fifth gate, but because it can use that as leverage to, stay with me here, get Universal Orlando to trade back the theme park rights for Marvel. Bam!


Avatar: This one is a long shot. Disney just bought Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox is probably still sore about losing the Star Wars franchise it had distribution rights to. Fox and James Cameron have also agreed to a 3 picture deal for sequels to the popular Pandora movie. However, Disney has the theme park rights to Avatar. That means Disney has a lot invested in the success of the Avatar franchise. Iger’s made a career out of acquiring franchises the company already had a partnership with in some way, Avatar should be on that list.

Dungeons and Dragons: This one is a bit of a stretch, but all those kids who grew up playing dungeons and dragons around the kitchen table are now parents with kids of their own. I see this as a potential Virtual Reality play for a next-generation theme park for Disney. Something that allows them to take their amazing storytelling skills honed by generations of imagineers and turn it into an interactive experience.

wreck-it ralph concept art

Parker Brothers Games: Thanks to Wreck-it Ralph, Disney already has a deal with Parker Brothers for the animation rights for some of its games, but, if it hasn’t, it should sew them up for theme parks too. Titles like Q*bert, Frogger, Risk, Avalanche, and more all have great theme park potential especially when combined with Wreck-it Ralph (which is getting a sequel) or even the Toy Story franchise (which is getting whole land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios).

Amazon Prime TV: The television world is cutting loose its ties to network TV. Leading the way is Amazon and Netflix. Disney already has a deal with Netflix with some of its Marvel properties, but I think they should keep an eye on Amazon, which has just introduced six animated children shows as part of its 2015 pilot season. Given the ubiquitous nature of iphones and ipads in every 6 year old’s hands, they’ll be expecting to see some of these characters on their next theme park visit. Think of it like the new Nickelodeon if that helps. Disney can have those eyeballs if they want too. Probably for pretty cheap right now too.


Bonus – Google Cars: Okay, this one is definitely a stretch, but have you seen those cute little cars Google has designed to zoom around the streets of San Francisco completely autonomously? What better way to introduce them to the world than with a relaunch of the Autopia property. Throw in a character in the next movie in Pixar’s Cars franchise and there’s your synergy. (Okay, I know Honda was just been announced for Disneyland’s Autopia, but they could still do it out here). Plus, I’d really like to see Google and Disney work together to solve the world’s transportation issues, wouldn’t you?

So those are a few franchises that I think Disney should at least have an eye on to secure the hearts and minds of future generations. Did I leave any off the list that you think Disney should consider?

8 thoughts on “5 Franchises Disney should consider buying (or at least renting)”

  1. All the ideas are good, but the last idea is the best (and longest overdue). I cannot believe that TOMORROWland has the ironic audacity to call gas-powered go-karts the “TOMORROWland Speedway.” If they were any less futuristic, they’d have a crank coming out of the grill. Why not a mix of electric, solar, hydrogen and hybrid; so people can experience all three? Or even cooler, an Elon Musk-style hyperloop! Adults & kids alike would wait in line to see what those are all about.

    But that’s just Tomorrowland. Disney’s Orlando location was supposed to be entirely EPCOT (the Magic Kingdom was only added to appease investors) — showcasing the future of industry and technology in a well-conceived and well-built city where thinkers and doers of tomorrow actually lived and worked. It pains me to see the still-futuristic monorail languishing while an archaic bus system is given time, money and attention.

    Add more monorails. Or introduce the People Mover as a means of actual transit. Or bring in those automated cars. Or all three! Orlando was supposed to be “Future World.” Re-imagining the transit would be an inspiring first step toward that grand vision.

  2. World of warcraft…..I live D&D but it’s let’s face it wow is just the modern version.

    WWE…..Before u say WWE doesn’t fit that’s what everyone said about marvel. WWE hall of fame restaurant in Disney Springs sounds good to me.

    Willy Wonka….both the characters and the rights to the candy..don’t you want to visit the chocolate factory?

    Peanuts….hey they are cool again (for now) much like the Muppets what better company to keep schultz’s characters relevant?

    And finally DC Comics …..because the only thing better than seeing JLA and Avengers movies would be a JLA vs The Avengers movie

    1. Disney and Willy Wonka could be a terrific pairing. The only problem is that they’d base any theme park attractions on the terrible Johnny Depp version of the movie instead of the superior Gene Wilder version. Interest may be peaking for Wonka with the new stage musical playing in London. Hopefully, it will come to Broadway soon.

  3. While I’m over the moon that Disney acquired Marvel and Star Wars, I feel like they should focus on their own original IPs now. I feel like Pandora is only at Disney because they wanted to keep it away from Universal. And honestly, now that they hype has faded, I don’t think the draw will be nearly as big as they projected. I liked Avatar, and I’ll definitely spend some time on Pandora after it opens, but I don’t think I’ll make a trip just to go there like I will when Star Wars land opens. Not sure Lord of the Rings fits the tone of a Disney property; Star Wars really feels like its always been a Disney movie, but Tolkien really feels different. I imagine if Disney really wants Marvel rights back badly enough, they could just write a check rather than overbidding for Lord of the Rings only to give it away.

    A Wreck-it Ralph ride in Hollywood Studios would be a lot of fun, and makes total sense given the changing direction of the park. I think that’s exactly what Disney should be focusing on.

    I also agree with the above comment that Tommorrowland (and I would also say Future World at Epcot) needs to be updated. If Disney ever gets Marvel back on the East Coast, it would make sense to bring some of those characters into one of those areas, or to Hollywood Studios.

    1. I’m so with you on Avatar I think the brand isn’t as hot as Disney thinks it is. And while I’m sure the new land will be awsome. I’m not so sure they wouldn’t have done just as well with Beastly Kingdome and not have to pay whatever they paid Cameron for Avatar

  4. If Disney could, I’d say get theme park rights to LOTR. The rest? Meh. Though I’m sure they could get creative with Google Cars somehow.

    I’d say Disney should buy the rest of The Jim Henson Company (which they should have done in the first place), and have all the Henson/Muppet franchises under one roof. The Fraggles and Labyrinth (coproduced w/ Lucasfilm) would fit just as comfortably under Disney as the Muppets do.

  5. Use LOTR as leverage??
    If you had rights to LOTR, why on earth would you worry about getting Orlando Theme Park rights for Marvel?
    If you’ve got LOTR, my god!! forget about Marvel.

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