Disney Spent $15 Billion To Limit Their Audience
Over the last decade, Disney has spent $15 billion to recapture the market they once had a stranglehold on: children. Purchasing Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm allowed the company to acquire a massive mix of current popular entertainment and fervent parental nostalgia, and control the dominating forces of franchise entertainment. The empire has been rebuilt, but can it last when it continues to gender divide children and limit their audience?
When Disney bought these companies, they bought thousands of characters, from Buzz Lightyear to Luke Skywalker to Iron Man, and control over massive Hollywood franchises. Marvel has years of potential blockbuster content mapped out, and even more live action television shows from Agents of SHIELD to the upcoming Iron Fist. Though Star Wars’ prequels are reviled, the Force is brewing again with a new trilogy and a whole series of films and off-shoots.
All eyes are set to the future — so much so that Avengers: Age of Ultron barely reached screens before attention turned to Captain America: Civil War — but practices are staunchly set in the past and willfully blind to the realities of the present.
The arrival of the first Avengers movie marketed “Be a Hero” to boys and “I Need a Hero” to girls, while completely exempting Black Widow from certain merchandise. Disney’s already pushing products for the upcoming Star Warsfilms, but are excluding Princess Leia from action figures, and popular characters from its Star Wars: Rebels line. Gamora, likewise, was deleted fromGuardians of the Galaxy products. With Age of Ultron, Black Widow is not only removed from myriad team shots and merchandise, but from her very own scenes. Instead of marketing Black Widow on her motorcycle, Hasbro offers Captain America and Iron Man.
What was once implicit is now explicit. Instead of pondering the reasoning behind creative decisions that fail to include women, fans are greeted with flagrant disinterest in the diversity these franchises already have and the money they could make from them. According to a former Marvel employee quoting her supervisor, the company’s desired demographic has no girls because “that’s not why Disney bought us. They already have the girls’ market on lockdown.” The piece goes on to explain, “Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm because they wanted to access the male market. To achieve this goal, they allocate less to Marvel’s female demo, and even less to a unisex one.”
Disney spent a staggering $15 billion to expand its hold on the market, only to actively narrow it, limiting their reach and angering the consumers they should be serving: almost half of the 24 million people who identify as comic fans on Facebook are female, and women make up 52% of moviegoers. These empires rely on a certain amount of good faith that diversification is on the way to serve the changing demographics of consumers — faith that’s instantly destroyed by attitudes that trump gender division over basic business sense.
Article extracted from Forbes.com