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Disney Buys Rights to Marvel Movies From Viacom’s Paramount

Walt Disney Co. (DIS), the owner of Marvel Entertainment, acquired the rights to four Marvel superhero movies held by Viacom Inc. (VIAB)’s Paramount Pictures, the studio that released the films from 2008 to 2011.

The agreement covers the first two “Iron Man” movies, “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” according to a statement today from Burbank, California-based Disney and Los Angeles-based Paramount. Terms weren't given.

The deal gives Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, more control over Marvel’s film library as it seeks to expand those characters into television shows and theme-park attractions. Disney acquired the comic book and movie company in December 2009 for $4.2 billion in cash and stock.

Disney later purchased the distribution and marketing rights to 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers” and this year’s “Iron Man 3.” Both were held by Paramount. Disney paid Paramount at least $115 million at the time.

“Marvel’s The Avengers” was the top-grossing film last year, with $1.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, an industry researcher. “Iron Man 3” leads this year with $1.2 billion in worldwide box office.

Sony Corp (SNE). makes “Spider-Man” movies under a longstanding agreement with Marvel. Amy Pascal, co-chairwoman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a May 22 interview with the fan website Ain’t it Cool News, that the studio had no intention of selling Spider-Man rights.

21st Century Fox has made the “X-Men” and “Wolverine” films under a similar arrangement.

Disney fell 1.1 percent to $63.26 at the close in New York. The stock is up 27 percent this year. Viacom, based in New York, declined 0.4 percent to $67.54 and is up 28 percent.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net; Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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