It's hard to imagine that there's a person in America who hasn't heard of Disneyland, Disney World, or Disney movies. Mickey Mouse is probably more instantly recognizable around the world than any real-life movie star or celebrity athlete. From Dumbo and Cinderella to Pinocchio and Bambi, Disney introduced the world to
Disney is an international maze of parent companies and subsidiaries that leave few corners of the globe untouched. Its vast holdings are a maze of media networks, film studios, production companies, merchandising ventures, parks, resorts, distribution operations, finance firms, gaming corporations, publishing companies, construction firms, vacation and cruise lines, music studios, and digital content providers. Forbes ranks Disney—which
The company's reach spreads farther than many people might think—in movies and television alone. It's common knowledge that Disney is behind classics like "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," but many don't know that Disney owns the "Die Hard" and "Alien" franchises, "Family Guy," "M*A*S*H," "American Idol," "Star Wars," "The Muppets," and "The Simpsons." The Disney Channel, Walt Disney Studios, and Disney Parks are famous and obvious centerpieces of the House of Mouse, but there's also a seemingly endless web of companies, properties, holdings, and franchises that don't bear the Disney name yet serve as revenue streams for the corporate empire just the same.
Here's a look at the Disney you might not know.
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When Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, it gained one of the biggest movie machines in cinematic history: Marvel Studios. The deal gave it Marvel Cinematic Universe, the highest-grossing film franchise of all time,
Disney scooped up Marvel Entertainment as part of the deal,
Apple and Disney got cozy in 2006 when Disney purchased Pixar, which
Disney's home base in Hollywood is El Capitan Theatre, one of the grandest cinema halls in the world with a history dating back to the 1920s and the time of Walt Disney. It's known today as the go-to spot for Disney's biggest premieres. El Capitan is the jewel in the crown of Buena Vista Theatres Inc.,
In 1977, George Lucas launched what is arguably the most famous and successful film franchise in history with the debut of "Star Wars." Thirty-five years later in 2012, Disney took the reins when it purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion. Disney got the Force and Lucas got 40 million Disney shares, making him the company's second-largest non-institutional shareholder behind only the estate of the late Steve Jobs.
Disney launched Touchstone Pictures in the 1980s "to reach beyond the kid market," according to the Los Angeles Times. And reach beyond the kid market, it did. Touchstone was the driving force behind hits like "
Disney is the poster child for media consolidation, and when the company closed a $71.3 merger with 21st Century Fox this past March, the media landscape changed forever—Homer Simpson could become an Avenger if Disney said it should be so. The deal gave Disney unprecedented reach in the world of media and entertainment, most notably with the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, which gave Disney not just the company's entire catalog of movies, but also entities like Blue Sky Studios, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Fox Digital Entertainment.
The 21st Century Fox deal also handed Disney the keys to FX
Another benefit of the sprawling Fox deal was that Disney picked up the National Geographic channels, which include not just National Geographic, but Nat Geo Kids and Nat Geo Wild. As a bonus, Disney also claims ownership of the paper publication that started it all: National Geographic magazine.
One of the legal conditions of the Fox merger was
BabyTV gives countless parents across the country a few moments of peace
You might not have heard of Star TV—unless you live in India. The Mumbai-based company is one of the biggest in the country, broadcasting across dozens of entertainment and sports networks in India. Thanks to the Fox merger, Disney is now one of that country's biggest media providers, too.
Hulu is one of the world's preeminent streaming services—and it's controlled by Disney. It was once a triumvirate owned by Disney, Comcast, and AT&T, but the latter sold its stake to Disney in
"The First 48," "Duck Dynasty," "Storage Wars," and "Dog the Bounty Hunter" are among the A&E network's biggest shows, but they're actually all Disney shows—sort of. Disney
When Disney took control of A&E, it didn't just pick up that one
Most people know Lifetime as the woman-centric channel that can
Another reward from Disney's conquest of A&E Networks is Vice Media Inc., which includes both the Vice and Viceland channels. Originally based on Vice Magazine,
The massive Fox merger had the media industry buzzing about monopolistic media consolidation like the world has never seen. Nearly a quarter-century earlier in 1995, however, the New York Times struck a similar tone when it reported on Disney's $19 billion acquisition of ABC, one of the traditional "big three" networks. While not
When Disney bought ABC, it got its hands on the massive ABC Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of ABC. That includes ABC Studios, ABC Times Square Studios, ABC Family Worldwide, and
Decades before Disney took over the Fox Sports Network with the 2019 Fox merger, it was already the preeminent name in television sports—even if the name "Disney" wasn't part of the marketing scheme. As part of the 1995 ABC buyout, Disney gained control of ESPN and its sprawling list of affiliate channels. They include ESPN Classic, ESPN Films, SEC Network, ESPN Outdoors, and ESPN 2 and 3.
The name Silver Creek Pictures might not ring as loud as Marvel or Lucasfilm, but for action movie buffs, it's one of Disney's greatest holdings. Its catalog includes blockbusters like the "Die Hard," "Lethal Weapon," and "Matrix" franchises, "Road House," "Predator," and "Commando."
Disney maintains a massive venture capital arm called Steamboat Ventures, named in homage to the venerable "Steamboat Willie" character that introduced Mickey Mouse to the masses. One of the 30 companies it invested in is GoPro, which is famous for its body-mounted action cameras.
Image and video hosting services company Photobucket also got a white-gloved helping hand from Steamboat Ventures, which
Many people know Hollywood Records through artists like Queen and Demi Lovato, but they might not know
It's a Laugh might not be a household name, but it's been a productive revenue stream for Disney for nearly 20 years. Among the hugely successful Disney shows it created are "Hannah Montana," "Girl Meets World," "Jonas," and "Wizards of Waverly Place."
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