JIN-513 -- Iron Mice and Gooferine - Marvel joins Disney

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J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends in Japan.
Issue No. 512 Tuesday July 14, 2009, Tokyo

In Tokyo it’s easy to be somewhat insulated from the sinking
popularity of Disney’s characters. (Where else can you find kids still
remotely interested in Mickey Mouse?) But as the world grows up, or
possibly as Disney’s creative machine continues to fail to grow with
the world, the company has been forced to look for alternatives. Late
last week Disney announced the $4 billion purchase of Marvel
Entertainment, a deal that will see characters such as Spider-Man,
Iron Man and Wolverine join the fold alongside Disney’s familiar faces
and Pixar’s expanding stable of 3D stars. Marvel’s valuation was 30
percent above Marvel’s share price making the premium one of the
highest paid in any studio deal, according to some analysts.

The deal, which follows Disney’s $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar and
tie-ups with Jerry Bruckheimer and DreamWorks is illustrative of an
evolving Disney. While the Pixar and Marvel buys, in particular, are
flashing signs of Disney’s creative malaise, the billion-dollar deals
seem to actually show a shift in the very DNA and structure of the
company. You can imagine, in the future, Disney looking more like a
kind of entertainment infrastructure rather than the factory it once

While Disney will eventually distribute Marvel films (existing deals
mean that studios such as Sony and Paramount will continue
distributing its marquee franchises until around 2013) the most
lucrative market will be merchandising. Marvel makes a lot of its
money from toys and things like Spider-man Halloween costumes. With
Marvel’s in-house films (Ironman) and studio-produced films
(Spider-Man) becoming some of the biggest summer blockbusters
worldwide over the past decade, Disney sees a chance to take advantage
of its extensive merchandising networks.

Another factor is the emergence of the “kids film for parents.” Films
such as the DreamWorks-produced Shrek, and Marvel’s PG-13 superhero
movies have created a market that can take a $100 million film to a
$300 million film on the back of the genuine appeal to parents. A
growing acceptance of violence in action may mean that the teenage
market is captured while parents are still willing to take their
younger children along to watch the spectacle. When compared to
Spider-Man, The Littlest Mermaid and Aladdin start to look a little
light on.

The sale of Marvel is also representative of movement at large in the
entertainment industry. The industry is rapidly changing as
distribution systems change. And while consumers are still spending
money on home entertainment and movie tickets, the sale of
bread-and-butter items such as DVDs continue to decrease.

Now, some of the major players are looking elsewhere. Steven Spielberg
recently announced an $800 million tie-up between DreamWorks and
Indian company Reliance ADA Group. The money will fund a slate of
films to be made by Spielberg’s production house DreamWorks. While it
doesn’t represent Spielberg’s conversion to a Bollywood director, the
huge, growing Indian market of moviegoers is a major reason for the
world’s most successful director’s move. The changing face of the
movie industry, coupled with the current economic situation is bound
to bring some more interesting movement over the next year or so.

Michael Condon

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----------- Editor-in-chief/Entrepreneur position ---------

Japan Inc Communications is seeking an editor-in-chief with
strong business sense and an entrepreneurial spirit to head
up an editorial team for the J@pan Inc magazine and related
website. J@pan Inc is the nation's leading English-language
business magazine.

The applicant should have experience in business reporting and
possess strong writing and editing skills and news sense.
But, this is not a normal editor's position.
The business of print and web-based publications is changing
rapidly and so J@pan Inc is looking for a leader that can
evolve quickly with it.

This editor will direct the teams in terms of the publication's
content and the business itself.
Business management experience and a passion to undertake
entrepreneurial ventures are essential.
The successful applicant will also need to work closely with
the sales team to ensure the vision of the business and the
direction of the sales staff are in sync.

-Position: Mid career
-Education: Undergraduate degree or equivalent journalistic
-Experience: at least 3-5 years' journalistic experience,
experience in business management.
-Language: Native English, strong Japanese preferable but not
-Skills: Basic computer skills and a good knowledge of web
publication processes and print publishing.

To apply, please send your resume, cover letter and any
relevant clippings to: michael@japaninc.com