Disney’s Intergalactic Theme Park Quest to Beat Harry Potter

www.bloomberg.com

Devin Leonard and Christopher Palmeri:

In the mid-aughts, Disney and Universal competed for the theme park rights to Harry Potter, which Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. controlled. However, the studio and J.K. Rowling insisted on the right to approve much of the final product, and Disney decided not to bid. In a 2012 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Iger said the company’s parks division “didn’t like the terms.” So Universal got Potter and ended up, as some in the park business have observed, out Disney-ing Disney.

Interesting that Disney walked away because they didn't like the terms -- which doesn't seem to be money, but rather WB/Rowling's desire for full creative control. Much like why Disney isn't bidding for the rights to the James Bond films, they don't like this lack of total control

So instead, we have Pandora: The World of Avatar about to open next month in Florida. I don't know. Count me as very skeptical about this partnership. Yes, Avatar is still the biggest film of all time, but it must be the smallest biggest film of all time. It's only eight years old, but those have been a long eight years. It just doesn't seem to be a part of the zeitgeist at all anymore -- and really, it was only for a brief moment of time.

The forthcoming sequels will undoubtedly help. But those are now pushed until 2020. I'm sure Disney would have liked them a lot sooner, as originally planned. So yeah, this seems awfully risky for such an expensive excursion for Disney. 

Of course, they'll always have Star Wars to fall back on now. Those parts of the park will make an absolute killing, no doubt. 

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