We’re a few weeks away from the theatrical release of the Marvel Studios-produced “Thor: The Dark World,” and the fall film epic distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures illustrates just how successful the Marvel brand is for Disney’s bottom line.
The first “Thor” film released in 2011 took in almost $500 million on a budget of just $150 million, and there’s no reason to doubt the fiscal success of this follow-up as Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and others return to explore the Asgardian mythology in all its big-screen, 3-D box-office grandeur.
It will be Thor – and his stepbrother Loki’s – second appearance on the big screen for Disney (the first release was for Paramount), coming after 2012’s “Avengers” blockbuster that took in a super-heroic $1.5 billion in worldwide box office totals.
But Marvel film projects aren’t the only medium being exploited by Disney. Coming in January, Disney and Marvel are presenting the first comic-book series published under the so-called “Disney Kingdoms” banner.
“Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird” tells the story to two teens who must race through a dangerous museum of mystical attractions after their parents are kidnapped. Confronting a secret society of evil, they attempt to rescue their parents with the help of a swashbuckling uncle. Of course, they uncover some hidden and strange truths along the way.
The premise owes its creation to famous Imagineer Rolly Crump, who in 1965 developed the idea of a “Museum of the Weird” that could serve as a complement to the Haunted Mansion.
Crump is best known for his work on Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Here in Florida, his creative touch can be seen in the design of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot attractions such as The Land and others. He also had a role in Tampa’s Busch Gardens.
His “Museum of the Weird” concept was to be a creation of mystical curiosities from around the world and be a spooky walk-through attraction. Yet the concept remained just that and never made it past the drawing board after Walt’s death.
Still, the idea will take on new life with the new comic-book series, which will use theme-park attractions as compelling plot devices.
In a press release, editor Bill Rosemann said Marvel’s “best and brightest creators will unleash entire worlds inspired by and built around the attractions and characters that you’ve always known.”
And David Gabriel, senior vice president of Marvel Publishing, said the new comic will be “a great way to link Disney fans and Marvel fans” as the theme-park attractions are incorporated into the new graphic-story series.
“Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird” is written by Brandon Seifert, who self-publishes the comic “Witch Doctor” and has worked on the “Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.” “Seekers of the Weird” is drawn by Karl Moline, who has created images for “Avengers” to “The Hulk” and “X-Men Origins” and many more.
Disney purchased Marvel Studios in 2009 in a $4 billion deal, so don’t be surprised to see even more crossover transactions in the future.
In fact, aside from films and next year’s new comic-book series, Disney Consumer Products even recently showed off Disney-branded fruits and vegetables that feature Marvel characters.
You know The Avengers are superheroes when they can get little kids to eat their carrots.
And you know that Disney is getting its money’s worth and more out of its Marvel purchase when it is leveraging the Marvel characters in ways that also benefit the Disney entertainment brand.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun