The Marvel Marriage Between Universal And Disney Explained

April 9, 2018

Dreamstime

Who would've ever thought a movie based on a comic book character would ever become a move moneymaker.  Marvel's Black Panther just past 1997's Titanic as the third top-grossing title of all time with nearly $660 million in ticket sales.  It could be the best performing movie based on the dozens of Marvel comic book characters that have make it to the big screen. But don't expect to see a Black Panther themed ride at Walt Disney World, even though it could be a huge draw to the park.  In fact, don't expect any Marvel land to pop up at Walt Disney World Park at all, thanks to a 20+ year deal with rival Universal.  As popular as Marvel movies are today, back in 1994 Marvel was struggling and looked to license some of its characters to scratch up some cash.  Enter Universal Orlando Resort, which made an indefinite deal with Marvel for their new Islands of Adventure Park in development. The deal stipulated no other theme park could use characters Universal was using in Florida east of the Mississippi River. This deal was also struck for Universal's theme park in California but Universal Hollywood never used a Marvel character and in 1998, left the door open for another theme park to use Marvel characters west of the Mississippi. Move forward to 2009 when the Walt Disney Company bought Marvel, including the agreement between Marvel and Universal. Because Universal is using Spiderman, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Beast, Captain America, Black Panther, Hulk and Storm at Islands of Adventure in Florida (and east of the Mississippi River), Walt Disney cannot use those characters (or the villains of those characters) at Walt Disney World. However since Universal ended the Marvel deal at their California theme park, which is west of the Mississippi River, Disney can use them at their Disneyland Park. So it is why you can see Spiderman at Universal Orlando and Disneyland's California Adventure, but not at Walt Disney World and why Universal cannot stop Walt Disney World from creating a Guardians of the Galaxy ride currently under construction at Epcot (as Universal did not use Guardians of the Galaxy characters prior to Disney buying Marvel).  It is an agreement that divides The Avengers Superhero team in half.  Even more captivating is the name "Marvel," which is owned by the Walt Disney Company yet cannot be used at any of their theme parks.  Because of that 1994 contract, which gives the sole use of the name “Marvel" to Universal only!

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times

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