Why Disney’s Iron Man overkill threatens the brand

An onslaught of Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar could be too much for audiences

Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from "The Avengers" (AP Photo/Disney)

When Disney buys a franchise, it exploits that franchise for all it’s worth. Six months after purchasing Lucasfilm for $4 billion, Disney announced its plans for the Star Wars movies: there will be new sequels in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and in the years between, the company plans to bring out other films based on characters from the franchise—meaning there could be a new Star Wars movie every single year.

This kind of overkill could backfire: in the ’90s, Disney’s decision to release an animated musical every year may have killed off the genre. But moderation may not be an option. Disney is releasing few films of its own, and this month announced layoffs of much of its in-house animation staff. That makes it even more important to wring every cent out of well-known brands such as Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. The company recently demanded theatres turn over a bigger share of ticket revenue from the next Marvel blockbuster, Iron Man 3, and the AMC Entertainment theatre chain, North America’s second-largest, temporarily stopped selling advance tickets in protest. “Clearly, they are under some kind of financial pressure,” the head of AMC told the Los Angeles Times. So was the guy who owned the golden goose.

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