Call it the Fantastic Four ... billion. Disney's unexpected purchase of Marvel Entertainment -- and its 5,000 comic superheroes -- this past August was perhaps the entertainment giant's boldest bit of derring-do in a year filled with creative leaps and aggressive moves. From crafting a subscription-based e-reader site for young kids to buying a nearly 30% stake in Hulu, from rethinking Mickey Mouse's image to scoring a crucial beachhead in the Chinese market with Shanghai Disneyland, Disney's innovations span the globe. We give a few supersmart exploits the full Marvel treatment.
Illustrations by Kirk Manley
The Invincible Steve Jobs
Disney is rebranding 340 of its flagging mall outposts as entertainment hubs -- with interactive kiosks, karaoke contests, and video-projected fireworks -- under the guidance of board member Steve Jobs.
Disney announced its own cloud-based film technology, Keychest, which lets consumers purchase a movie once and then play it across devices, whether a smartphone, TV, or laptop. The move lets CEO Robert Iger sidestep the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, or DECE, a consortium that aims to create a common set of standards and formats.
The Incredible ESPN
ESPN and ABC Sports president George Bodenheimer beefed up his European sports portfolio -- and snagged half a billion soccer fans -- when he bought the rights to air the English Premier League.
After transforming Disney Channels Worldwide from a sleepy cable backwater into a television powerhouse (hello, High School Musical!), Rich Ross took over Walt Disney Studios. In an unexpected play, Disney appointed Carolina Lightcap, former creative head of Disney Channels Latin America, as Ross's replacement.
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total revenues for most recent fiscal year
what the company is most famous for
A stable of cartoon characters -- from Mickey Mouse to Cinderella -- that drive an empire of amusement parks, entertainment, and retail.
why it's innovative
From snatching up Marvel Comics to securing rights to build Shanghai Disney, the Walt Disney Company is a nimble and daring example of aggressive growth.