Move over Disney of soppy fairy tales and classic cartoons, it’s time for jedis, pirates, superheroes and more. Look at what The Walt Disney Company has added to its kitty in the recent past to make it one of the largest entertainment giants in the world.
Lucasfilm Ltd. (2012)
As if to prove mergers and acquisitions are not just the prerogative of the Googles and the Facebooks, Disney has steadily been stringing together a careful selection of names to add to its repertoire. Latest in the list is George Lucas’ brainchild, Lucasfilm Ltd for a whopping $4.5 billion that will enable the company to cash in on the tremendously popular Star Wars saga. Disney has already announced that it plans to release another trilogy and a new movie every two three years. The deal also includes Lucas’ high-tech production companies, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. But that’s not all, it also brings with it rights to the Indiana Jones franchise, which let’s admit, we can’t get enough of!
Marvel Entertainment (2009)
Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Fantastic Four, X Men, do we need to say more? The Company entered the superhero universe for the first time when it bought out Marvel for a jaw-dropping $4 billion in 2009. The deal doubtless paid off with millions to be made for the company, as witnessed with the phenomenal success of The Avengers, undoubtedly the biggest hit of the year and what some say is the biggest ever commercial hit in Disney’s history. This is not counting the hundreds of other Marvel characters that are still to be adapted to screen. Talk about striking gold!
In a deal that created ripples across entertainment industries world over, Disney brought together historic classic cartoons like Mickey, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck and animated hits such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Disney bought out Pixar Animation for a crazy 7.4 billion dollars. Disney got that and Steve Jobs on the board of directors of Disney Studios. It’s without a doubt Disney’s best acquisition till date.
Miramax, The Muppets and more:
Back in 1993, Disney made a successful bid for Miramax and bought the company for $60 million. The venture operated until recently, as part of the Buena Vista wing, churning out successful movie franchises such as Spy Kids,Scream, Scary Movie and later Fahrenheit 9/11 until the label was dissolved last year. Still others in the Disney Kitty are The Muppets (excluding Sesame Street), Playdom,Fox Family Network etc.
ESPN Inc. (1996)
A far cry from fairy tales and cartoons, Disney sought to own a (rather big) slice of another legendary crowdpleaser — sports cable. In 1996, displaying aggressive expansionist tendencies, Disney acquired Capital Cities/ABC for a historic $19 billion. Most notable in the detail was ESPN, the undisputed global leader in sports television networks. It’s now, after 15 years, there are talks of TIME warner buying out Disney’s stake in the ESPN-Star Sports deal in India.
- 1923: Walt Disney is founded as Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, with brothers Walt and Roy Disney
- 1926:The company changed its name to The Walt Disney Studio shortly after moving into the new studio on Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake district.
- 1928: Walt creates Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
- 1940: Disney goes public.
- 1950: Cinderella becomes Disney’s first commercially successful animated feature since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- 1966: Walt is diagnosed with lung cancer, dies on December 15.
- 1967: The Jungle Book is released.
- 1982: Coca-Cola Company has an unsuccessful buyout attempt for Disney.
- 1985: In a reversal of a three-decade studio policy, the studio begins making cartoons for television beginning with Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
- 1991: Beauty and the Beast, the first animated Disney film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture
- 1993: Disney acquires independent film distributor Miramax Films.
- Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise outsells Mickey Mouse merchandise for the first time.
- Releases Lion King.
A decade to remember
- 2004: Comcast makes an unsuccessful and hostile $54.1-billion bid in stock for the company,
- Bob Iger replaces George J. Mitchell as CEO. Begins to rebuild the Disney brand by redirecting focus on core assets, such as feature animation and the theme parks.
- Disneyland celebrates its 50th anniversary on July 17.
- Disney sells Miramax to Filmyard Holdings, LLC for $660 million. Disney Channel ends one of its most successful television series, Hannah Montana.
- Disney earns global theme park rights to James Cameron’s Avatar franchise
- Rich Ross resigns as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios replaced by Alan F. Horn