Marvel Entertainment, LLC (formerly Marvel Enterprises and Toy Biz, Inc., and marketed and stylized as MARVEL) is an American entertainment company founded in June 1998 and based in New York City, formed by the merger of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. and ToyBiz. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and is mainly known for its comic books by Marvel Comics, as well as its forays into movies with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment for US$4 billion; it has been a limited liability company (LLC) since then. For financial reporting purposes, Marvel is primarily reported as part of Disney’s Consumer Products segment ever since Marvel Studios’ reorganization from Marvel Entertainment into Walt Disney Studios.
Over the years, Marvel Entertainment has entered into several partnerships and negotiations with other companies across a variety of businesses. As of 2019, Marvel has film licensing agreements with Sony Pictures (for Spider-Man films) and Universal Pictures (a right of first refusal to pick up the distribution rights to any future Hulk films produced by Marvel Studios), and theme park licensing agreements with IMG Worlds of Adventure and Universal Parks & Resorts (for specific Marvel character rights at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Japan). Aside from their contract with Universal Parks & Resorts, Marvel’s characters and properties have also appeared at Disney Parks.
Marvel Entertainment Group
Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. (Marvel or MEG), incorporated on December 2, 1986, and included Marvel Comics and Marvel Productions. That year, it was sold to New World Entertainment Ltd as part of the liquidation of Cadence Industries. On January 6, 1989, Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings bought Marvel Entertainment Group from New World for $82.5 million. The deal did not include Marvel Productions, which was folded into New World’s TV and movie business.
“It is a mini-Disney in terms of intellectual property,” said Perelman. “Disney’s got much more highly recognized characters and softer characters, whereas our characters are termed action heroes. But at Marvel we are now in the business of the creation and marketing of characters.”
In September 2005, Marvel Enterprises changed its name to Marvel Entertainment to reflect the corporation’s expansion into financing its own movie slate.
In 2007, several Stan Lee Media related groups filed lawsuits against Marvel Entertainment for $1 billion and for Lee’s Marvel creations in multiple states, most of which have been dismissed. Additionally, a lawsuit over ownership of the character Ghost Rider was filed on March 30, 2007, by Gary Friedrich and Gary Friedrich Enterprises, Inc.
Disney subsidiary (2009–present)
On August 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company announced a deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion, with Marvel shareholders to receive $30 and approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each share of Marvel they own. The voting occurred on December 31, 2009 and the merger was approved. The acquisition of Marvel was finalized hours after the shareholder vote, therefore giving Disney full ownership of Marvel Entertainment. The company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange under its ticker symbol (MVL), due to the closing of the deal.
On June 2, 2010 Marvel announced that it promoted Joe Quesada to Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. In June 2010, Marvel set up a television division headed by Jeph Loeb as executive vice president. Three months later, Smith & Tinker licensed from Marvel the character rights for a superhero digital collectible game for Facebook and Apple’s mobile platform. On October 1, 2010, Marvel moved its offices to a 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) suite at 135 W. 50th Street, New York City, New York, under a nine-year sublease contract.
Stan Lee Media’s lawsuit against Marvel was dismissed again in February 2011.
In March 2013, Feld Entertainment agreed with Marvel to produce a Marvel Character-based live arena show. Marvel was also launching a new pop culture and lifestyle web show, “Earth’s Mightiest Show”. On August 22, 2013, Marvel Entertainment announced that it was working with Hero Ventures on The Marvel Experience, a traveling production/attraction. In April 2014, Hong Kong Disneyland announced the construction of Iron Man Experience, the first Marvel ride at any Disney theme park. It opened in 2017 and was built on a location in the park’s Tomorrowland.
On September 16, 2009, the Jack Kirby estate served notices of termination to Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures to attempt to gain control of various Silver Age Marvel characters. Marvel sought to invalidate those claims. In mid-March 2010 Kirby’s estate “sued Marvel to terminate copyrights and gain profits from [Kirby’s] comic creations.” In July 2011, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a summary judgment in favor of Marvel, which was affirmed in August 2013 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Kirby estate filed a petition on March 21, 2014 for a review of the case by the Supreme Court of the United States, but a settlement was reached on September 26, 2014 and the family requested that the petition be dismissed.
Marvel president of TV, publishing and brand Dan Buckley was promoted to president in January 2017 adding games, global brand management and the franchise groups to his current responsibilities. In October 2017, Ron Richards began working at Marvel Entertainment as Vice President and Managing Editor of New Media. Marvel New Media expanded into a new field with the development of a scripted podcast series, Wolverine: The Long Night, announced on December 5, 2017. Marvel and SiriusXM announced on October 22, 2019 a multi-year deal for scripted and unscripted podcast series and themed live events.
Marvel Entertainment announced a new pre-school franchise, Marvel Super Hero Adventures, in September 2017 consisting of a short-form animated series along with publishing and merchandise during “Marvel Mania” October. On December 7, 2017, Marvel announced its Marvel Rising franchise focusing on new characters as youngsters starting with animation in 2018. Marvel Comics is expected to publish material for Marvel Rising, but delayed any announcement on their material.
In May 2018, The Walt Disney Company Australia purchased eight year naming rights to Docklands Stadium from Melbourne Stadiums Limited and selected the Marvel brand as part of the name. Since September 1, 2018, the stadium has been known commercially as Marvel Stadium. A Marvel retail store and other inclusion of Marvel would be added to the stadium.
In October 2019, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige was named Marvel Chief Creative Officer, overseeing all the creative affairs within Marvel Entertainment in addition to Marvel Studios. Under the structure, Marvel Television and Marvel Family Entertainment (animation) moved to Marvel Studios, with Marvel Entertainment president Dan Buckley reporting to Feige. With the December 2019 announcement of folding of Marvel TV into Marvel Studios came the dismissal of executives of vice president level and above in TV and animation under Feige plus the removal of Brian Crosby as creative director of Themed Entertainment for Marvel Entertainment.
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