Is anyone really surprised?
Anyone who really believed that the Walt Disney Company would passively walk away from the possibility of obtaining the distribution rights to Marvel's upcoming films must be living in la-la land. If you were Disney, and had just dropped $5 billion in an acquisition of a company like Marvel, then chances are that you would want to make every pretty penny back (and more) that a deal like that had cost you. And quickly.
This past fall, after it was initially revealed that Marvel would be bought out by Disney; Disney executives conceded that they would honor the previous agreements between Marvel and Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Pictures, respectively. Disney CEO Robert Iger revealed that while the parent company would allow the deals between Marvel to run their course, he would be ending those distribution deals once they are complete. What does this mean? Even though Disney bought out Marvel, Marvel had previous established deals with other film studios and had licensed out their properties to them. This means that Disney could not be able to distribute/back a Spider-Man or X-Men movie, for example, because the rights of those characters belong to Twentieth Century Fox. If you were Disney, wouldn't you want to acquire the distribution rights to these films? I know I would, especially after a $5 billion deal.
Back in 2008, Marvel renewed their five year distribution deal with Paramount to incorporate future properties like Thor, Iron Man 2 and Captain America. This means that all of those movies that are scheduled to be released in 2012 are set to be distributed through Paramount, not Disney. At least for now. The rumor is that Disney has their lawyers working hard to look for a loophole in the contract between Marvel and Paramount that would allow Disney to acquire the distribution rights to these films.
Disney paid enough for Marvel properties, so any logical person would expect them to attempt to acquire those deals from Paramount.
While IESB claims that this stands as proof of Disney's search for a contractual loophole, all it really signifies is that Iron Man 3 won't be released until Paramount and Marvel's contract has run it's course.
Certain Disney publicists have already been telling members of the press that Iron Man 3 will definitely be distributed and branded with the Walt Disney logo [not Paramount].
Any company that spent $5 billion on an acquisition of another would want to make money off their new property. It's called business. If Disney finds a loophole, good for them. Marvel is a new company now, and I am sure Paramount is fully aware of that fact. What do you think? Does it matter to you whether it is Disney or Paramount that gets the distribution rights to future Marvel films like Iron Man 2 and 3, Captain America, Thor and The Avengers?
Rumblings we are hearing say there are a couple different scenarios that Disney may explore with Paramount. The first would be to allow Paramount to distribute Thor but joint teams Disney/Paramount with Disney supervisors calling the shots regarding marketing and publicity.
One thing is for certain, Disney does not want any help from Paramount on Captain America and The Avengers. We are hearing Disney would consider allowing Paramount to distribute Iron Man 3 but that there is no way in hell a Paramount logo would be seen on either the Cap or Avenger films.
Another option Disney is considering is paying off Paramount the dollar amount they would be expected to make from the four remaining films in their contract (in the 200 and 250 million dollar range) which is approximately four