Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Will we see The Avengers in the Parks? Not Likely.

With the huge early returns of the first Disney-Marvel creation The Avengers blowing up theaters and breaking records, ($200.3 Million opening weekend) the conceivable thought is that we are close to seeing Marvel character roaming Disney’s Hollywood Studios and possibly an Avengers attraction making its way to the theme parks. Sadly, we are mistaken. These things will not be happening anytime soon; it at all.

When Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 it was thought that there would be Marvel character roaming parks and attractions galore within all of Disney theme parks. This has not been the case, and though we may want to blame Disney for not capitalizing on the brand, it is much more complicated than that. When we look down the block to Universal Studios, there is an area of Islands of Adventure called Marvel Superhero Island. This area, which predates the acquisition of Marvel by Disney, has written within its contract that the agreement cannot be ended with a change in ownership. It almost seemed as though Universal knew that one day Marvel would be sold (and they did not have the funds to buy the company themselves) and they wanted to keep themselves covered. This deal, which Disney CEO Bob Iger has since honored, does not allow Disney to use any Marvel character that has a place in Islands of Adventure in any capacity east of the Mississippi River. The positive ramification is that it excludes Disneyland from this binding contract, leaving the West Coast free to create whatever it pleases.

This brings up the Universal angle though: what would possess a company to continue to market its opposition’s franchise? Think about this: You enter Universal, and you are greeted by Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and the Hulk. That is good. The bad: you are seeing characters and attractions themed to a Disney owned property. Disney has free marketing at Universal Studios. Though it would be costly, wouldn’t the logical thing be to re-theme Superhero Island to maybe DC (though it would have to finagle a deal away from Six Flags) or a complete re-imagining of the land? It seems like a poor decision to promote Disney owned characters, especially to a population dominated by tourists, who may not know this deal exists and thus not know the difference.

The only answer we have is this: No. You will not see an Avengers attraction in Hollywood Studios (Hulk is in Universal.) The wonder I have is the logistics of maybe an Iron Man attraction. That might be feasible, though I am unsure of the semantics of the contract. One day Universal will re-theme the Island as they will have had enough giving Disney free market space. Then and only then will Marvel fans see the franchise in the resort it belongs. Till then we can only speculate.