Disney's Star Wars and Marvel Comics Team Up

This Force is strong with The Walt Disney Company. The latest Star Wars announcement proves this.

Jan 10, 2014 at 8:00PM

The Force had been strong with Dark Horse Comics, the third-largest comic book publisher in the United States. Since 1991, Dark Horse had been responsible for creating every single comic book featuring the "Star Wars" name. This includes nearly 1,000 total comic book titles that have continued the stories of Jedi Luke, smuggler Han, and Princess Leia, as well entirely new stories set centuries ago or decades into the future. Unfortunately for Dark Horse, however, all of that will come to an end this year. Last week, Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Marvel Comics announced that it will take over as the exclusive Star Wars comic book creator and publisher beginning in 2015.

Star Wars

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #2. Source: Dark Horse Comics.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
A long time ago -- well, just 1977 -- Marvel Comics created the original Star Wars comic book. The first issue went on to sell more than 1 million copies and the entire series ran for a total of nine years. The strong sales of Star Wars actually saved Marvel Comics almost single-handedly; Marvel was having major financial difficulties in the late 1970s. Today, in a bit of corporate synergy, these two dominant forces of countless childhood memories have been reunited once again.

In 2012, Walt Disney acquired Star Wars creator Lucasfilm for $4 billion in cash and stock, and it is easy to understand why. While Lucasfilm's box office returns over the past four decades have been extremely impressive, the real money made from Star Wars has always been from consumer licensing activities. Since the very first Star Wars comic books, novels, toys, electronics, and clothing items hit store shelves in 1977, Lucasfilm has made more than $20 billion in consumer product sales.

Always in motion the future is
For those who've been following Disney closely these past few years, this new business arrangement between Lucasfilm's Star Wars and Marvel Comics might not be that surprising. Since purchasing Marvel Comics in 2009, for example, Disney has been busy acquiring assets that were sold off during the pre-acquisition years.

Most recently this has included obtaining the film rights to Daredevil from Twenty-First Century Fox and Ghost Rider from Sony. Although on a much smaller scale than major Hollywood films -- the entire U.S. comic book industry did roughly $475 million in sales last year through November -- this Star Wars deal continues Disney's strategy of bringing more assets in-house. Dark Horse has done a wonderful job with Star Wars for 23 years, but why license your shiny new $4 billion franchise to an outside company when you have the great minds at Marvel Comics on your payroll?

Rebels

Star Wars Rebels. Source: Disney.

This is also not the first time Disney has ended an old Star Wars business arrangement in order to begin a new one. Although Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a two-time Daytime Emmy Award winner and one of the highest-rated shows on Time Warner's Cartoon Network (as well as a merchandising powerhouse), Lucasfilm announced last March that the show will be coming to an end. Rather than share the profit with Time Warner, Disney chose to bring the whole operation in-house.

The Clone Wars will be ending, but Star Wars will continue in animated form on the Disney XD cable channel later this year as Star Wars Rebels. Additionally, the Seth Green-created animated comedy Star Wars Detours is planned for an unannounced channel and date, and a live-action Star Wars series is being reviewed for development by Disney's ABC Studios. Fans and Disney investors alike definitely have a lot of Star Wars to look forward to in the near future.

Foolish bottom line
The most obvious takeaway is that this Star Wars deal will be a huge boost to Marvel's comic book sales. A bit less obvious is all that can be accomplished under the Walt Disney corporate umbrella. Marvel's takeover of the Star Wars comic franchise will occur in the same year that Lucasfilm's Star Wars Episode VII -- the first installment of a new trilogy -- is scheduled to hit theaters.

This will open the door to many cross-promotional marketing opportunities such as one-shot movie tie-in comics; full comic book series to fill the gaps between movies; motion comics, Blu-ray, and digital download releases (animated comic books with full audio); and numerous other comic book initiatives. If Lucasfilm could do $20 billion in consumer sales on its own, imagine what it is capable of with the full weight of Disney behind it? Size matters not when it comes to the Force, but it definitely matters when it comes to business. Investors should take note.

Invest in what you know
You know cable's going away. But do you know how to profit? There's $2.2 trillion out there to be had. Currently, cable grabs a big piece of it. That won't last. And when cable falters, three companies are poised to benefit. Click here for their names. Hint: They're not Netflix, Google, and Apple.

Fool contributor Matthew Luke owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.


Compare Brokers