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Disney paid $4 billion dollars for Marvel Entertainment - we look into how their investment paid off

Was the 2009 Marvel purchase a good deal for Disney?

It’s been over 13 years since the Walt Disney Company made the surprise announcement that it had purchased Marvel Entertainment in a deal that would permanently transform both companies. At the time, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that “adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation,” which feels like quite the understatement from today’s point of view where four of the top 10 grossing movies of all time are Marvel movies.

The 2009 deal had been in the works for some time without it being leaked, including what were reportedly three months of solid negotiations before the deal was announced; the final deal was worth something in the region of $4 billion at the time — that would be in the region of $5.5 billion today — and it is, by any estimation, one of the smartest deals Disney has made in recent memory.

How good of a deal is it? Well, last year, Marvel had an estimated value of roughly $53 billion, so… yeah. I’d argue that a 1375% return on your investment, all things considered, counts as a pretty big win.

Disney’s Marvel Studios

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Marvel Studios plays perhaps the most significant role in establishing Marvel’s overall worth. The MCU is the most successful movie franchise of all time, with no less than four movies in the top 10 list of the highest grossing movies of all time. (Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and the first Avengers from 2012, if you’re curious.) Those four movies alone grossed $2,280,983,592 — and there are a further 26 movies to add onto that, bringing the total amount of money earned by the franchise in theaters somewhere north of $25 billion. It’s a staggering number, and yet even that undersells just how successful Marvel Studios actually is.

After all, that $25 billion (again, slightly more, but that’s a nice round number that we can work with) is only the box office gross of the MCU to date. It’s ignoring the money brought in by digital sales and rentals, or Blu-Rays and other forms of home release. It also ignores the value that Marvel brings to something like Disney+ both by the service acting as the exclusive streaming home for Marvel Studios’ back catalog, but also the only place to see the latest Marvel Studios show — which will end up being essential viewing for anyone wanting to keep up with the plot of the next movie, somehow.

Estimates suggest that, when combining the value of both box office and streaming revenue generated by Marvel Studios, you end up with a number in the region of $46 billion. Once again, that 2009 bet of $4

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Graeme McMillan

Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.


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