Disney to acquire Marvel Entertainment

Walt Disney is to acquire Marvel Entertainment, owner of Marvel superhero characters such as Spider-Man and Wolverine, in a $4bn (£2.5bn) deal.

Spiderman

The Marvel superheroes, originally created for comics, will join Disney’s classic characters such as Mickey Mouse and Snow White, and feature in movies, theme park rides, TV shows and merchandising.

Analysts say that the expensive deal, which values Marvel at 37 times its estimated 2009 earnings, will give Disney a much needed boost among young male audiences.

Its recent successes have come from Hannah Montana and the US boy band, the Jonas Brothers, which have attracted young female fans.

Other Marvel characters include The X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and Thor.

Disney president and chief executive Robert Iger says: “We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation.”

The deal also comes as Disney launches Disney XD, its new male skewed TV channel, in the UK. The channel, which initially launched in the US and France, primarily targets 6-14 year olds.

Iger says that Disney XD currently airs around 20 hours a week of Marvel character productions and adds there could be potential to see this grow.

The recent successful Spider-Man and The X-Men films have been produced by Sony Pictures via a licensing deal.

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