‘Avengers’ Proves Marvel Exceeds Iger’s $4.2 Billion Cost

‘Avengers’ Proves Marvel ‘Far Exceeds’ Iger’s $4.2 Billion Cost
Scarlett Johansson stars in The Avengers, in this undated photo released on May 3, 2012. Source: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel via Bloomberg

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger said Marvel Entertainment’s value “far exceeds” the $4.2 billion paid for the business after its latest film set a box-office record.

“‘Avengers’ I think speaks volumes in terms of, not only the value of Marvel, but the value that Marvel can create long-term,” Iger said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television’s Carol Massar. “We sit here today with a very clear blueprint about how to create more value from Marvel over the years. Value that I believe will far exceed what we paid for Marvel a few years ago.”

“Marvel’s The Avengers” generated a best-ever $207 million in ticket sales in its domestic debut last weekend, and its worldwide total now exceeds $775 million, according to Box Office Mojo, a film research website. It is the first Marvel film Disney distributed since purchasing the comic book publisher in 2009.

Iger, 61, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo and television group co-Chairman Anne Sweeney appear today on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Disney,” broadcast live from the company’s Burbank, California, headquarters.

Disney’s CEO, once a TV weatherman, said every project in the hit-or-miss film business is a nail-bitter.

“People would be surprised how late in the life of some of these projects, there’s still so much work to be done,” Iger said. “The uncertainty about whether it will be great or not lasts, exists I guess, pretty late in the process.”

‘Give it a Shot’

Disney’s March science-fiction release “John Carter” led to an $84 million operating loss at the film studio for the second quarter ended March 31. Studio chairman Rich Ross resigned in April.

Iger said he felt the $250 million movie was “very challenged” after viewing it prior to release. The company continued to promote it.

“I felt that given the size of the investment that we owed it to ourselves to at least give it the shot it deserved,” he said.

Screening an early cut of the “The Avengers,” Iger said “we had a pretty good sense that we had a very strong movie on our hands. We didn’t know it was going to break all the records that it’s broken.”

Disney is working on a sequel to “The Avengers,” racing to get more movie-related merchandise in stores and planning to get the characters into its theme parks, Iger said May 8 when the company announced a 21 percent increase in quarterly profit.

Merchandise Potential

Iger, who also engineered the $7 billion purchase of the Pixar animation studio in 2006, said yesterday he doesn’t expect every film to have the sequel and merchandising potential of “The Avengers.”

“The creative process is best served by having a goal to just making something great, and if it happens to be something that works worldwide or something that spans multiple businesses here, or something that will live forever in multiple ways, fantastic,” he said. “Making a great movie is a difficult thing. I believe that we would only make it more difficult if we told all the movie makers that you have to check every box before we do this.”

Disney rose 0.6 percent yesterday to an all-time closing high of $45.28. The stock has gained 21 percent this year.

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