OK folks, take this one with a grain of plastic for the time being. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard that Disney acquired Lucasfilm for roughly $4 billion last week and Marvel for around the same price a few years prior. Well, we have it on good authority that serious discussions are happening at the highest levels of both Disney and Hasbro to fold the largest toy and game company on the planet into the Mouse.
From what we’re told, these are still just discussions at this point, but serious enough that something could be announced at any time and create ripples throughout the entertainment industry. The Lucasfilm acquisition has been reported as taking as few as 6 months to complete. On the other hand, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger has until 2015 on his current contract, and he waited about 3 years in between the acquisitions of Marvel and Lucasfilm, so we may be without firm news on this for some time.
The acquisition would give Disney the rights to Transformers, G.I. Joe, Dungeons and Dragons, Beyblade, Battleship, Nerf, and Magic: The Gathering among several dozen other game titles and IP. When you add Marvel and Star Wars to that list it’s a pretty comprehensive lock on boy’s entertainment; a far cry from a few years back when Disney was heavily criticized for losing its grip on boys.
Hasbro holds the toy and table top game licenses to the now Disney-owned Star Wars and Marvel, and has shown great success with those franchises, as well as exploiting their own IP across film, television, and games. We’ve already seen some cross-pollination with Star Wars Transformers and Monopoly. And Hasbro isn’t shy from M&A having scooped up Parker Brothers, Kenner, Tonka, Milton Bradley, and Wizards of the Coast over the years. So from an outsider’s perspective this makes a ton of sense for all involved.
So if this turns out to be true, what will it mean for these franchises and their homes, and what will it mean for The Hub, the Hasbro-Discovery JV cable net?
The Transformers and G.I. Joe films are with Paramount, but as we saw with Marvel, that could easily change. The animated series are with The Hub, along with Beyblade, Kaijudo, and others, and it’s not clear how that channel would fit into Disney’s plans. They could be folded into Disney XD, and the girls brands folded into Disney Channel. On the comics’ side this would be bad news for IDW, just as the Marvel acquisition was for BOOM! and the Lucasfilm acquisition is likely to be for Dark Horse.
But here’s hoping to a Marvel vs. Star Wars vs. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe vs. D&D vs. Bronies video game! (So yeah, this means Disney would also own My Little Pony, and there would be plenty of cross-over material there, too.)
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I was hoping that Disney might remake the transformers movies, but it looks like that might not happen even if Disney acquires the rights. Paramount is making huge piles of money with the transformers movies and I doubt they would give up such a valuable asset for even a billion dollars. If Disney buys Hasbro, at least they would profit greatly on the toys.