In a move so ominous it should have been preceded by a visit from the Silver Surfer, Disney
(DIS) has agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment
(MVL) for a cool $4 billion. As part of the deal, Marvel's massive 5,000-character menagerie will be under Disney control. While Marvel's film licensing deals with Fox
(NWS) and Sony
(SNE) will remain for now, the future may not be so bright.
Disney Chief Robert Iger assured fans that it acquired Marvel simply to bring their creative force on board and not to revamp its library. However, the company's press release -- as well as Disney's history with its partners -- tell a different story.
In the statement, Iger stated, "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."
In other words, tighter management is likely to come into play.
And it wouldn't be a first for Disney: Relations with Pixar in 2004 became incredibly strained when Disney exerted excessive control over sequel and distribution rights, leading Pixar to temporarily seek out new distributors for its films. And Miramax found itself left in the lurch a few times when Disney refused to distribute films it saw as too controversial.
While some Marvel fans are trying look on the bright side of things, others aren't too optimistic. Based on Disney's past, far too many negative factors could threaten what fans love about Marvel's property.
Minyanville takes a look at eight worst-case scenarios of Disney's buyout of Marvel.
No positions in stocks mentioned.