It was announced this morning that Walt Disney Studios is set to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion dollars. The press release is below. There have also been some updates about this news since the announcement. During a conference call, it was announced that all deals for characters currently set up at other studios would stay in place under the terms currently set forth by Marvel and the studio in question. That means Paramount will continue to produce and distribute their upcoming slate of Marvel properties which includes Iron Man 2, Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America, and The Avengers. Down the line, Disney does plan to distribute future Marvel-based films on its own. The biggest piece of news to come out of this new deal is that Pixar will be teaming up with Marvel in the very near future for an upcoming project. Here is the official news about the acquisition:

Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL) in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.

Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

"This transaction combines Marvel's strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, The First Avenger: Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney's creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories," said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney."

"We believe that adding Marvel to Disney's unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation," Iger said.

"Disney is the perfect home for Marvel's fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses," said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel's Chief Executive Officer. "This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney's tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world."

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney's global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel's properties.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Marvel have each approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, effectiveness of a registration statement with respect to Disney shares issued in the transaction and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Marvel shareholders. Marvel was advised on the transaction by BofA Merrill Lynch.

UPDATE: (6:15 PM PST Longtime Marvel mainstay Stan Lee recently released a statement about Disney's purchase of Marvel.

Statement from Mr. Stan Lee, Founder/Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment and Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Media regarding today's announcement of Disney's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment.

"I couldn't be happier with this agreement. It's great move for Disney, for Marvel and for my company Pow! Entertainment since Pow! has a first look deal with Disney. From every possible point of view, the merger of Disney and Marvel is a match made in Heaven,

Just imagine, with this deal Marvel gives Disney a library of literally hundreds of unique and colorful characters that have the potential to make great, high-concept movies and long-lasting franchises-and nobody knows how to play in that ball park better than Disney.

This is a great day for the two companies and for the entertainment community as a whole. To sum it up as simply as possible, when you combine the best with the best, everyone wins!"

B. Alan Orange