Street artist Banksy's latest exhibit opened over the weekend. Dismaland takes hard jabs to crass commercialization and media obsession. The two-and-a-half acre attraction is clearly skewing Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), down to the exhibit name's font.
There are "I am an Imbecile" helium-filled balloons, a graffiti-desecrated castle, and a ghastly scene of paparazzi snapping flash photographs at a morbid Cinderella horse-drawn carriage accident.
It's not just Disney being mocked here. One of Banksy's art installations features a killer whale jumping out of a toilet to go through a trainer's hoop, a clear shot at SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS). It's a reference to activist complaints that SeaWorld keeps its orcas in small tanks relative to their size and exercising needs. SeaWorld is in the process of addressing the critique by rolling out larger orca habitats, but it still hasn't won in the court of public opinion.
The exhibit will entertain Banksy fans and Disney bashers alike in the seaside town of Bristol in southern England for six weeks.
However, with Disney's stock down sharply since hitting an all-time high earlier this month investors may argue that Dismaland is a real place. It's where shareholders find themselves now. When the stock opened at $93.15 on Monday morning that was 24% below the all-time high it had hit earlier this month just ahead of announcing its fiscal third quarter report.
You don't often see blue chips correct so sharply, especially dividend-paying blue chips with several theatrical and theme park catalysts on the way. Disney, at that panicky $93.15 open, priced the top dog in family entertainment at just 16.7 times estimated earnings for its new fiscal year that starts in a few weeks.
Yes, ESPN and ABC are going through a rough patch at the moment, but what about Star Wars: The Force Awakens obliterating box office records in a few months or the new theme park additions that were recently announced?
Wall Street's concerned, and with a few market analysts slashing their price targets earlier this month the bearishness may have seem warranted. The market isn't exactly cheap, and many non-deserving stocks have gone along for the bullish ride in recent years. However, you're unlikely to find Disney on a list of companies that are blue chip pretenders. It's the genuine article, and even the recent hiccups on the media networks end will either pass or the House of Mouse will figure out a way to cash in given the digital delivery revolution.
Banksy's Dismaland is clever, and Disney and SeaWorld are better off keeping their lawyers out to avoid drawing even more attention to the temporary exhibit. It's what Disney's legal eagles did with Escape to Tomorrow, the 2013 indie release that was filmed in secret at Disneyland and Disney World. The film suggested that some evil deeds were being done in the basement of EPCOT's Spaceship Earth attraction, and ignoring it was the best way to make sure that the low-budget movie didn't gain any more momentum than it already had.
Disney's best response to Dismaland is to leave it alone, doing everything it can to keep its own business moving in the right direction. If its aim is true it will make sure that folks taking advantage of Monday morning's sale on Disney stock aren't the ones left holding the "I am an Imbecile" balloons.