What Every Disney Investor Should Know About Marvel Movies

Three of the summer's top grossers are Marvel movies. Credits: Marvel Studios, Sony, Fox.

Superhero summer is in full swing at movie theaters, with Captain America: The Winter Soldier from Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel Studios battling to maintain its lead over Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Twenty-First Century Fox's (NASDAQ: FOXA  ) X-Men: Days of Future Past. Which studio should investors be most excited about right now?

Guest host Alison Southwick puts this question to Fool analysts Nathan Alderman and Tim Beyers in this  episode of 1-Up On Wall Street, The Motley Fool's web show in which we talk about the big-money names behind your favorite movies, toys, video games, comics, and more.

Earlier this summer, Nathan bet Tim that Winter Soldier would remain the year's top comic book movie property, solidifying Disney's dominance of the genre despite an April release. Tim put his chips on X-Men: Days of Future Past. A clear winner has yet to emerge.

Winter Soldier tops the year-to-date chart with $710.8 million in worldwide grosses as of this writing, Box Office Mojo reports. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ranks second with $703.3 million with X-Men: Days of Future Past third at $698.9 million. All of which is better news for Disney than either Sony or Fox, Tim argues.

Certainly Fox deserves kudos for backing the highest-grossing X-Men film to date, which should reignite an important franchise as the studio begins work on X-Men: Apocalypse, which is slated for May 2016.

What investors need to remember is that, in licensing film rights to the X-Men family of characters, Disney and Marvel get a producer's cut for every one of Fox's adaptations -- including Days of Future Past. Meanwhile, with Spider-Man, the House of Mouse in 2011 repurchased exclusive control of merchandising rights to the franchise. Disney's Consumer Products division generated $3.6 billion in merchandising, licensing, and related revenue in fiscal 2013, up from $2.4 billion in fiscal 2009, before Marvel officially joined the empire. (Source: S&P Capital IQ.)

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Click the video to watch as Alison puts Nathan and Tim on the spot, and then leave a comment below tell us what you think of Disney's strategy with Marvel movies. You can also follow us on Twitter for more segments and regular geek news updates!

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