The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) and its Marvel franchise are set to have another incredible year. Fans have already shown how much they like what Disney has done with these films, evident by the box office numbers for them.
Disney shareholders have also loved these films for their financial success. And it isn't just Studio Entertainment, Disney's operating segment responsible for making movies, that got a boost. So did the TV and media networks that benefited from the additional content, the retail and consumer goods segment that profited from licensing toys and other goods, and even the theme parks that benefited from the exposure and new characters.
Without further ado, here's what's coming for Marvel in 2015.
The Marvel franchise, which has been owned by Disney since 2009, has been a major part of Disney's recent movie success with blockbuster hits like Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Avengers in recent years. This year should prove another year of success for the Marvel franchise with two new movies being released: Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1) and Ant Man (July 17).
The new Avengers movie follows the success of the first Avengers film from 2012 that brought in over $1.5 billion worldwide. Avengers: Age of Ultron follows the classic Avengers team of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and others as they battle a new villain, Ultron, and try to save Earth.
Ant Man, from the classic Marvel storyline of a villain with the ability to shrink in size but grow in strength (spoiler alert: He ultimately turns good to save the Earth) might be a less well-known character and story line than Avengers (or Iron Man, Captain America, etc.). However, if this movie is successful (and from the Marvel track record, it looks likely to be), this could be the start of yet another lucrative franchise for Marvel, as Iron Man and Captain American have proven to be.
Disney's own networks, such as Disney XD, are getting a boost of content from the Marvel world. Disney XD will help Disney spread Marvel to a younger audience with the animated show Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors.
The other major Marvel event this year is Daredevil, the series, made exclusively for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Unlike typical Disney content, and much different than the Disney XD series, this show on Netflix is meant for a more mature audience and has a darker tone. This is the first of four such planned inter-related series, each 13 episodes, another reason to love the Marvel universe for its depth of characters and story lines.
Comics, toys, and more
As Disney VP of Global Licensing, Consumer Products Josh Silverman was quoted as saying, "We're excited to build on this huge momentum and the incredible buzz around the next Avengers movie with a series of product initiatives appealing to fans of all ages."
Disney Publishing is preparing to release more print material based on the many different story lines and characters within the Marvel universe. Disney is releasing over 4,000 different Marvel books in 30 different languages, as well as slew of young adult novels.
Meanwhile, Disney is teaming up with companies like Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS), Lego, and other toy and consumer goods companies to create other items with Marvel characters. Disney is even making a micro-site for kids to interact with the Marvel characters at MarvelKids.com.
Fans and shareholders both love Marvel
Marvel movies are a great example of how Disney isn't just creating great experiences for Disney fans, but is also creating great returns for shareholders by utilizing its movie franchises in lucrative ways. According to Box Office Mojo, the 10 Marvel films that have been released since Disney bought Marvel have together grossed over $7 billion worldwide in box office revenue. The biggest of these, the recent Avengers movie, grossed over $1.5 billion.
Best of all, it isn't just the box office revenue that is spurring earnings on this franchise. Thanks to network content, books and comics, as well as the licensing for toys with other major media and toy companies, Disney is set to make a lot of money on Marvel movies this year.
Bradley Seth McNew owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Hasbro, Netflix, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Hasbro, Lions Gate Entertainment, Netflix, and 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.