Purchased for $ 4 billion, the Disney superhero factory is now worth more than $ 50 billion.
For Disney CEO Bob Chapek, this weekend’s debut of Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings is a roll of the dice. It’s the first Marvel movie to open on the normally anemic Labor Day weekend, and little is known about its central character, a kung fu master in the mold of ’70s martial arts icon Bruce Lee. . Its exclusive theatrical release, which Chapek himself called an ‘interesting experiment’, comes as cases of Covid continue to rise.
The Chinese government has yet to approve the film’s distribution in the world’s largest film market, raising the ante for Chapek. But Disney has amassed some leeway with its control over the 80-year-old comic book publisher that writer Stan Lee and illustrator Jack Kirby put on the map: bought in 2009 for just $ 4 billion, Forbes estimates the company is now worth nearly $ 53 billion, or about 16% of Disney’s market value.
It’s not a bad ROI that few have said will ever pay off.
“People didn’t fully understand and appreciate the genre’s franchise potential like we did,” said Tom Staggs, former Disney CFO who helped lead the acquisition. “We were able to buy it because the industry didn’t fully understand it either.”
Keeping that value alive may be one of the biggest challenges facing Chapek, the former theme park and consumer products manager who took over as CEO last year. He once angered Hollywood by taking on Scarlet Johansson, one of Marvel’s biggest stars, for compensation related to the simultaneous theatrical and streaming release of Black Widow, including the controversial decision to disclose his $ 20 million salary for the role. The strategy also reportedly angered Marvel Creative Director Kevin Feige, who did not want to see the demoted movie streamed from home.
Shang-Chi presented a different set of challenges for filmmakers – breaking down problematic Asian stereotypes in comics that may explain why China has yet to set a release date. The performance of Shang-Chi will influence how Disney will distribute Marvel’s next installment, Eternal, is slated for release on November 5th. That may well determine whether the company can stick to its carefully choreographed schedule of Marvel stories, intended first to debut in theaters and then extended to television.
It was this kind of calculated control that turned an independent studio above a Mercedes Benz dealership in Beverly Hills into the beating heart of the world’s largest entertainment company. Twenty-four Marvel titles collectively grossed $ 21.9 billion in Disney’s hands, making him bigger than Bond, more powerful than Potter, and massive compared to The fast and the furious.
It’s also much better than Star wars which Disney bought with its $ 4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, generating box office sales of just $ 6 billion out of the five films it produced. Its $ 7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar in 2006 also does poorly, with all 21 Disney-owned films generating ticket sales of $ 14.4 billion. Marvel, according to Comscore media analyst Paul Dergarabedian, is by far the most successful film franchise in history.
Here’s a look at Marvel in numbers.
FILM – Almost $ 6 billion
Marvel Movie # 1: Avengers: Endgame, $ 2.8 Billion
Marvel superheroes have been a key part of Walt Disney’s box office dominance in recent years, giving the studio the two biggest movies of 2018 – Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther – and one of the highest grossing movies of all time – Avengers: Endgame – one year later. Since 2018, Disney has released seven Marvel films that have collectively grossed more than $ 9.4 billion, according to data from Comscore. This type of dominance increases the value of all of its other movies by increasing the price the company can get from cable TV networks like Starz or streaming services like Netflix to show them. Media analyst Richard Greenfield estimated that the value of Disney’s Netflix deal in 2012, which gave the streamer access to newly released films from 2016, would generate $ 450 million in revenue during its premiere. year.
STREAMING – $ 40 billion +
Most viewed Marvel show: Loki
WandaVision. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Loki. Marvel shows helped attract 12.4 million new Disney + streaming service subscribers from April through June, bringing the total to 116 million in July. The WandaVision its debut was a Top 10 hit and only got bigger with each of its nine episodes – Nielsen estimates it has been viewed by 30.5 million people. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier captured an audience of 28.3 million, Nielsen reported, while Loki, who debuted three months later, still attracted more than 35 million viewers, according to the measurement service. No surprise, ten more Marvel series are coming, including Ms. Marvel, the first American-Muslim superhero; Hawk Eye, with actor Jeremy Renner reprising his Avengers‘sniper character; and She-Hulk, played by Emmy Award winner Tatiana Maslany. “The addition of Marvel content… is a tremendous catalyst for growth for us,” Chapek told investors in May, noting that he was building on the success of the original Star Wars-inspired series, The Mandalorian. by marvel Black Widow surpassed $ 125 million in sales on Disney +, where it premiered on the same day as the film’s theatrical release, sparking a high-profile battle with star Scarlett Johansson over profits that may well set a precedent on how whose talent is paid in the age of streaming.
CONSUMER PRODUCTS – Approximately $ 3 billion
Marvel product # 1 on sale: Super Heroes Avengers Iron Man Hall of Armor, price $ 45
Under Disney, sales of everything Marvel-related – Spider-Man swimsuits, Hulk bedding, Winter Soldier and Captain America figures – have accounted for nearly $ 10 billion in license revenue from merchandise sales since 2010. , according to Forbes calculations. Marvel president Ike Perlmutter initially viewed toy sales as the company’s profit driver, with movies playing the marketing role. Today he is making loads of money on both. Disney is not disclosing what percentage of revenue is attributable to Marvel, although two people with first-hand knowledge say it’s just behind classic Disney characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy) in terms of revenue.
THEMATIC PARKS – To be determined
First Marvel Attraction: Iron Man Experience, Hong Kong Disneyland
Although it has been in Disney’s hands for more than a decade, it’s still too early to estimate its value to the company – but its six-acre Avengers campus opened at Disneyland in June and is already attracting visitors. crowds that show up to interact with characters like Iron Man, Thor, Captain Marvel or Black Panther. One attraction, the Spider-Man Web Slingers ride, sends guests on a 3D mission to fight a Spider-Bots infestation at headquarters, not far from the 2017 remake of the fuzzy area-The Tower of Terror inspired dive which is now called Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout dark ride. “They did it right,” said Dennis Speigel, managing director of consulting firm International Theme Park Services. “There were huge crowds and waits to enter. Marvel goes around the world. An Ant-Man and The Wasp attraction opened in 2019 at Hong Kong Disneyland. Coming soon: Guardians of the Galaxy from Epcot Center: Cosmic Rewind indoor roller coaster and an Avengers Campus concept at Disneyland Paris.
METHODOLOGY Disney does not disclose the value of Marvel and the analysts who cover the company have not done so independently, so to estimate its current value. Forbes consulted with former company insiders, industry watchers and Wall Street analysts. We used operating profit for the film and consumer products units and estimated Marvel’s contribution to be 22% – its share of the company’s total box office over the past decade. A multiple of 15x has been applied. Disney + was included in the $ 200 billion valuation awarded by Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson.