How Marvel Became A Juggernaut: 5 Big, Brilliant Business Decisions
Deciding To Self-Finance
If reacquiring the rights to characters is the first logical step in exerting an increased level of control, the second logical step is most definitely self-financing in order to keep the lion’s share of the profits. Starting in 2007, Marvel was able to do that after chairman David Maisel secured a revolving credit deal with Merrill Lynch that allowed the studio to finance its own pictures without needing direct cash on hand. The value of the characters themselves was used as collateral; so, there was little meddling from any of the lending agencies, giving Marvel itself almost complete control over basically every step of the process aside from distribution.
Having too many people involved is rarely a good thing. More often than not, it’s best if there’s a singular vision and that vision comes from the top. With its own funding stream, Marvel was allowed to create that environment. That’s not to say there weren’t or aren’t checks and balances within Marvel from conception to completion, but two people employed by the same company are probably more likely to share a vision than two executives from different companies with different interests.
Selling To Disney At The Right Time
When Disney first acquired Marvel for $4 billion back in 2009, there was quite a bit of worry as to whether Mickey Mouse would somehow ruin the badass, burgeoning empire the studio was creating. Four years later, I think we should all be pretty comfortable admitting that didn’t happen.
Like every other company, Disney likes making money, and while it’s not above cross-promoting, the company has long shown a willingness to let properties be that turn a profit. ESPN operates almost like a separate company without too much oversight from the larger Disney brand. Had Marvel been sold years earlier to Disney when it was signing the type of licensing agreements that only generated a fraction of the Spider-Man profits, you can bet your ass executives would have been breathing down the company’s throats about ways to whore out its characters to push into the black. Since the renaissance had already happened, however, the larger studio has seemed happy to let Marvel forge its own path, much to the benefit of the fans.
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