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David Poland

By David Poland

The One Where Mickey Eats The Hulk

Disney’s acquisition of Marvel is cheaper than its acquisition of Pixar. But it is also a much more dangerous play.
Unlike the Pixar deal, which included the talent (Lasseter) to revive a somewhat moribund in-house animation business as well a very strong, if very annually limited production partner, Marvel is a straight character play with some real question marks about how its movie future will play out.
Iron Man is theirs, outright. But Paramount will eat the distribution gravy off of the top. Spider-Man is, essentially, Sony

14 Responses to “The One Where Mickey Eats The Hulk”

  1. jeffmcm says:

    More media consolidation.

  2. Martin S says:

    Softness with the teen male demo was becoming huge issue without Pirates and nothing to replace it on horizon. So Pirates booty is literally Marvel.
    Lot of theme park talk, naturally.
    Disney XD is getting prepped to be the new Cartoon Network. Marvel/Disney were much more linked overseas than stateside. As I wrote earlier, all cartoon rights from the 60’s – 80’s were locked up with Disney, (save FF cartoons at HB), who wouldn’t sell or distribute. Marvel had broadcast rights which shifted from Fox Kids to CN to XD an number of years ago.
    Re-aquisition of the Disney Stores is another lost factor. Plans for big exclusive collectibles.
    Will be interesting to see how Hasbro factors into this. They have deals with Marvel and Disney. Marvel as a license and Disney XD for Hasbro-created properties.
    No one will talk about the Marvel credit line and where it figures into the 4Bil.

  3. IOIOIOI says:

    Disney are about as milquetoast as a company can get. Marvel — at least as a comics line — do comic after comic that do not fall into the freakin Disney wheelhouse. Hell, Tony Stark is about as anti-Disney as a character can get, and these milquetoast fuckers own his rights? Really? It’s a terrible fit, and I hope it fails to get approval.

  4. LexG says:

    IO, I don’t know… The Stark of the IRON MAN movie was pretty much on the same lovable scoundrel level as Captain Jack Sparrow; Yeah, he womanizes and drinks a little up front, but all within 1994 NBC Must See TV standards, and the whole movie’s shot through Respecto-Sheen.
    Not exactly like he was taxing chicks and freebasing like the fucking Bad Lieutenant. And 90% of the audience was small children, so it’s not like the Religious Channel just bought up Spice TV, like you’re making it seem.
    But I’m guessing we won’t be getting any more awesome Punishers.

  5. Eric says:

    I wonder if Disney would consider licensing out characters (e.g. Punisher) for outside films if they don’t want the character associated with the Disney brand.

  6. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I posted a similar comment over on Poland’s Favorite Other Blog, but I just don’t get this.
    It’s well documented that roughly only 20% of acquisitions create value while over half destroy value. There’s no economies of scale to be gained here, there’s virtually no synergies between the lines of business, and few resources that either company doesn’t have on their own or can’t get relatively easily through a licensing agreement in the open marketplace. Spiderman, one of their most lucrative properties, is currently held in a separate joint venture entity so technically isn’t covered in this acquisition.
    If Marvel were having credit problems (as some people have speculated), then Disney really DID overpay and if they wanted a slice of Marvel’s non-feature film elements then they should have bought a minority stake. Instead they cough up a roughly $50 for shares that were trading at $30 and have to go through a costly integration process.
    They’re going to have to increase profits by about $300million over what they brought in separately for 10 years to break even on this deal. I just can’t see how the numbers can justify it.

  7. Martin S says:

    IO – you don’t have much to worry about. Iger is buying the company because they cater to you and a younger male demo. They’re not going to soften the company because it defeats the purpose of the buy.
    Supposedly, Iger sees it as another Pixar arrangement and not a Borg devouring of the company. I tend to believe him since Perlmutter, Maisel and Feige are remaining in place and overseeing Marvel productions. Still no clarification as to who owns the credit line, but the appearance is that Marvel has its own money to work with and if a problems arises, Disney steps in.
    As for the actual comics…good be great with all of the Disney outlets, or could be bad since the entire branch doesn’t turn a profit.
    That THR blog about the lawsuit is toothless. Stan was a hired gun from his first days at Marvel. Martin Goodman was the owner during the halcyon days and sold in the late ’60’s. Stan never owned the company, just ran it for decades. I love Stan, but Stan Lee Media was a debacle from word one. Unless a judge decides to re-write the concept of work-for-hire and throw the entire copyright universe into chaos, Marvel wins.
    This is highly bittersweet for me. I don’t like to see Marvel go away as an independent company, but this has always been inevitable. It should open the path for new competition that Marvel has spent decades devouring or squashing.
    What it most certainly does is firmly cement the superhero film as a stand alone genre next to horror, sci-fi and fantasy. There’s no going back now.
    A lot of strange feelings over this. Sort of like being Ahab and watching someone else kill Moby Dick.

  8. Martin S says:

    Foamy – Marvel has zero female audience and Disney was getting weaker with all male demos above 12. People bullish on Marvel think Disney got a massive deal.
    The plus side to Spidey is Sony pays for it, Disney collects a check. Eventually, Sony is going to want to go halvsies because production costs are not declining. Once that occurs, Disney will re-work the overall deal. Same thing is heading for Fox.
    Iger two-stepped the question if anyone else was interested in Marvel. Someone was and while Paramount is the obvious choice, my hunch is Dreamworks floated a partnership.

  9. Martin S says:

    I should say Dreamworks from several months ago, pre-Disney deal.

  10. Wrecktum says:

    “Disney are about as milquetoast as a company can get. Marvel — at least as a comics line — do comic after comic that do not fall into the freakin Disney wheelhouse. Hell, Tony Stark is about as anti-Disney as a character can get, and these milquetoast fuckers own his rights? Really? It’s a terrible fit, and I hope it fails to get approval”
    Ha ha ha! This is too rich. I can’t believe how much fun I’m having reading this!! HA HA!!

  11. IOIOIOI says:

    Oh shut up, you freakin butch ass. Seriously, if you enjoy being a man, then go buy a better pair of pants lady. Seriously, figure out if you are xx/xy, then get back to me. The fact that someone like you, a female posing as a man, is not fucking banned. Amazes me.

  12. Foamy Squirrel says:

    @Martin – 2 issues I have with that.
    First, demographics are a horrible way to segment market. Anyone who ever went to highschool (and I assume that’s most of us) knows that “male teens” is not an homogenous segment. The jocks rarely mix with the geeks, who rarely mix with the soon-to-be-hipsters, who rarely mix with the soon-to-be-dropouts. These groups listen to a diverse range of musics and buy a diverse range of products because they have different tastes. There are a few universals that don’t divide along these lines (mainly technologies like iPods etc.) but for creative properties including movies there are distinct differences.
    One of my old mentors trained brand managers at Louis Vuitton in Paris. He used to say, “The average American has one testicle. If you made a product for someone with one testicle, how many people do you think would buy it?”. Assuming that male teens all think similarly (they don’t) is the same as assuming female teens don’t read Marvel (they do – and you should visit to find out how pissed they are that people think they don’t).
    The second is WHO CARES if Disney and Marvel are weak in certain market segments? McDonald’s acquiring the Body Shop so they can appeal more to the ecological movement would be a stupid move because there’s little to be gained between the two customer bases, and the same is true here. Paying for market share that produces minimal profits is just poor corporate management.

  13. martin says:

    Reminds me of OliverStoneLand:

  14. Martin S says:

    Foamy – good points.
    I totally disagree with the female comic reading factor. I spent over a decade analyzing the business of the comic industry and the fem factor is about as negligible as you can find. Even if their has been an uptick in the past several years, it still wouldn’t account for more than 5% of the readership, on the generous side.
    As for the male demo, something Marvel, and WB did with Batman), crossed a large swath of them. While I see your point about distinct groups, you cannot narrowcast a 150Mil picture at one piece and expect success. Marvel’s entire history is based on the fact that they defied the stereotypes. In the early 60’s, comics were selling and geared to young kids only because of all the insanity surrounding EC Comics and Seduction Of The Innocents. Then Marvel comes along and while still targeting that same age demo, Stan, Jack and company were able to write and draw characters that pulled all the way into college students. That’s what Disney was buying.
    You then have the factor that young kids, pre-high school cliques, all watch cartoons. When Spider-Man opened I spent many a meeting explaining to people that it was going to be the biggest opening ever because Spider-Man had existed in some medium or another for decades. So you didn’t have to read comics to have watched Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, or “Friendly Neighborhood” in 70’s syndication. Now the latest group of college students were born in the era of Fox Kids – which, through several different cartoons over as many years, firmly established hundreds of characters. The entire success of Singer’s X-Men was predicated on the longevity of that cartoon. The mistake studios made for decades was to look at them through the comic prism and not see them as animation akin to GI Joe or He-Man. If anyone gets this, it’s going to be Disney. I mean, Jeff Iger’s father, (or grandfather), was Will Eisner’s original business partner in the Golden Age of the 30’s.
    As for weak markets and who cares – Disney apparently does. After the age of eight, they are hemorrhaging boys to Nick and Cartoon Network. Pixar has a wide appeal, but that is still capping off in the tweens. Iron Man, Thor, Namor…these fit the Pirates/Transformers formula.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin