Thursday, Disney and Fox announces the long in development deal for the House of Mouse to buy the majority of 20th Century Fox. The deal is worth $52.4 billion in stocks and will see Disney take control of the film, television and entertainment division of Fox. The news and Sports divisions will remain their own entity.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”
21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch said: “We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry. Furthermore, I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”
To help oversee the transition, Bob Iger has extended his contract as CEO for another 2 years, until the end of 2021.
The deal is a bit controversial, as it continues to propel Disney towards a monopoly in the entertainment industry. The deal also signals the end of one of the oldest and largest film companies in Hollywood. The deal will give Disney control of huge properties like Marvel’s X-Men, Deadpool, Planet of the Apes, James Cameron’s Avatar, and The Simpsons.
It will also give Disney complete control over the original Star Wars trilogy. That’s important, because now it means that we could see an original cut of Star Wars finally hit theaters.
It also brings the Marvel “mutant” universe under the Disney umbrella, and we could see an extra expanded film universe featuring the X-Men, Fantastic Four and other properties that Fox has the rights to. On the other end of the spectrum, it could also mean that the chances that Fox have been taking with Deadpool and the R-rated Logan and the horror take on the New Mutants, those could all be history.
At this point, the only film rights that Disney does not own in the Marvel universe are the Sony Spider-man universe of characters, and The Incredible Hulk which is still controlled by Universal. While Marvel is allowed to use Hulk in films like Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok, Universal still owns the rights to any stand alone films featuring the big green monster.
Speaking of Universal, this further complicates the contract which allows Universal to feature Marvel characters in their Orlando theme park, Islands of Adventure. The iron-clad contract with Universal and Marvel gives Islands of Adventure exclusive theme park rights to existing characters in any theme park, East of the Mississippi River.
Disney has found ways around the contract, and has announced that they will be opening a brand new Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot in the coming years. Disney has also been very quick to launch Marvel characters on their cruise ships, and at Disneyland Resort over the past year.
While the exact details of the Marvel contract aren’t known, it was thought that Universal has rights to all characters that were already in the park prior to the Disney buyout of Marvel. It was also thought that Fox and Universal had reached a deal that would allow Universal to build new attractions based on the X-Men universe. With the inclusion of the X-Men, it further complicates and probably brings those rumored plans to a halt.
Speaking of complications, Universal also has one of Fox’s biggest and longest running properties, The Simpsons. Universal Orlando has attractions and themed lands based on the Simpsons, which are extremely popular. There is likely a similar deal in place, which will keep The Simpsons at Universal.
Many rumors point to Disney using many of the Fox properties to enhance their currently under re-construction Hollywood Studios, while some are hopeful of an entirely new park based on those same characters.
The biggest take away from it is that Disney has just lined their library with tons of beloved Fox films that they can use when their stand alone streaming service launches in 2018. The new service will take Disney and Marvel films away from other streaming services like Netflix.
What do you think of the new partnership, and what do you hope comes of the acquisition?