The Walt Disney Co. announced today it will buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion - a move that will give many parents pause.
I’m old school, and I like my Mickey Mouse separate from my Amazing Spiderman! I like my cartoon characters competing and looking different. Crossovers have always given me the willies.
But I don’t think this move is about world domination by Disney. I just think buying Marvel helps the company attain a goal it’s been after for years: Boys 6 to 14.
Disney knows it’s got the young girl market locked up all the way from my 2-year-old to my girlfriend’s young teenager. They suck them in as toddlers with tiaras and fake high heels. (I can’t get my 2-year-old out of her Princess outfits.) Then keep them interested as tweens with Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato movies and videos. (I still can’t tell these two apart.). And finally I think even the most cynical 14-year-old would have to admit the Jonas brothers are cute.
But what do they have for boys? Last year Disney re-launched its Toon Disney channel as Disney XD in the hope of attracting those boys 6 to 14.
From a Los Angeles Times business story August 2008:
“Disney XD, aiming squarely at boys ages 6 to 14, will offer original action-adventure and comedy series, movies, animation and sports-themed shows developed with Walt Disney Co.-owned ESPN.”
” ‘What was clear to me, and clear to us, is we had a huge opportunity to create content that were boys’ favorites,’ said Rich Ross, president of Disney Channels Worldwide.”
“Tween boys, ages 9 to 14, account for about $50 billion in spending worldwide, said Greg Kahn, senior vice president of strategic insights for media buying firm Optimedia International USA Inc.. Advertisers are eager to reach these young consumers, not just snag a portion of their disposable income, but to build a loyalty that they hope will extend into even more free-spending teen years, he said.”
“But the Disney Channel has struggled for years to find the right programming formula to lure boys, who tend to gravitate to Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network — that is, when they’re not spending time playing video games.”
So guess what? Now they have their programming content! Hours upon hours of X-Men, Spiderman, Hulk, Iron Man, The Avengers, plus movie rights!
And while this move works for Disney’s business goals, does it somehow muddy the water? Will it hurt the integrity of these iconic characters and their development?
There are plenty of parents who think Disney is “evil.” (Just Google Disney and Evil.) My own cousin is mortified that I “promote” the Princess theme to my kids - in that I let them watch the movies. Other friends were horrified when we posted our Disney World photos on Facebook.
I can live with Disney owning Marvel, but I don’t want to see Wolverine hanging out with Zack and Cody!