If I asked you to name the most financially successful movie franchise in cinema history, you might think James Bond, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Surely it’s Star Wars! But no: coming in with a hot-sweat-inducing total of more than $14 billion, the Marvel cinematic universe is the highest-grossing franchise in history.
So, after shelling out $4 billion for Marvel Entertainment in 2009, you’d think Disney would want to slap the uber-successful Marvel name on pretty much everything. Marvel contact lenses? Marvel toilet seats? Marvel waste pipe fatberg cleaners?
But, rather hilariously, it turns out Disney’s new Marvel-themed attractions at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, won’t be allowed to use the Marvel name – and it’s all down to an arcane, decades-old contract.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the new land in Anaheim will feature superheroes including Spider-Man, the Hulk and Iron man – but won’t be called ‘Marvel Land.’ Instead, it will likely be called something along the lines of ‘Avenger Land’ or ‘Super Hero Hub’… doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?
The dispute is because of Marvel’s earlier licensing agreements with other studios – including Disney’s biggest theme park rival, Universal Studios, which prohibit Disney from using a few specific Marvel characters in Disney theme parks east of the Mississippi River and ban Disney from using the word ‘Marvel’ in the title of any theme park land. That’s right – we’re no longer living in medieval times but contracts are still determined by geographical boundaries like the Mississippi River. What a world!
According to the LA Times: “The name decision is governed by a 1994 licensing agreement between Marvel Entertainment and MCA Inc. that also spells out how Marvel characters can be used by other theme park operators. MCA is the predecessor company of NBCUniversal, parent of the firm that owns Universal Studios Hollywood and that is the third-largest theme park operator in the world.”
The new attractions are expected to open in 2020 near to the existing ‘Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission Breakout’ ride.
“We are excited to bring these stories and their compelling characters to life with a new land in Disney California Adventure park,” said Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown.
You can click here for a fun interactive map of the Disney California Adventure Park.
(Images: Disney / Marvel / Getty)