By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Well, we knew they were talking about it. We knew it could happen. But is anyone else surprised that Disney actually pulled the trigger and is buying 21st Century Fox for a jaw-dropping $52 billion? With the purchase, Disney gains control of a massive entertainment portfolio, including X-Men, The Simpsons, The X-Files, and much, much more.
“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.” – Disney CEO Bob Iger, via press release
Details of the massive $52.4 billion acquisition are as follows: First and foremost, Disney Chief Robert Iger, who is already overdue to retire, has extended his tenure as CEO of the Mouse House through 2021. This will give Iger plenty of time to oversee the acquisition and integration of Fox Assets into the Disney infrastructure.
Iger’s going to have his hands full, too, since Disney is already adding to their theme parks with both Star Wars and Marvel land expansions, plus an ambitious cinematic release schedule with Marvel, Lucasfilm, and animation properties. But Iger is used to it, having purchased Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009, Lucasfilm in 2012, and now 21st Century Fox. So I’m sure his team has integration down to an art form. Especially when it comes to getting approval from the federal government in the process.
With Disney taking over one of the six major studios in Hollywood, and a handful of television networks, you can bet that the FCC is going to take a hard look, along with the FTC and other federal agencies to make sure the deal doesn’t have antitrust implications.
“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.” – Rupert Murdoch, via press release
But Disney isn’t getting all of 21st Century Fox in the deal, only most of it. The Mouse House absorbs studio operations in Culver City, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, and Fox 2000. On the TV side, Disney expands their growing broadcast and cable lineup with Fox Television Network, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, and FS1 and FS2 regional Fox Sports affiliates. Fox retains the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and their Big Ten Network. That may be enough or the FCC to be satisfied.
The Mouse House will also be acquiring Fox’s stake in Hulu; and it’ll be interesting to see how that affects their streaming service strategy. In addition, international assets that include a 61% majority share of Sky News in the UK, Fox Networks International, and Endemol Shine. I wonder if that means Disney will have to gain UK approval as well? The company may have to shed some things in order to secure the blessings from both governmental agencies here and overseas.
Cinematically, Marvel Properties with tentpoles like X-Men, Deadpool and the upcoming New Mutants will be back in the Marvel Studios fold, but maybe not in enough time to add them to Avengers 4. Nerdist News questions if Fantastic Four would come along for the ride since the film rights were bought by Constantin Films in the 80s, with a distribution deal secured at Fox.
But Disney may have bought the rights back from Constantin as part of the overall package. Now granted, the Fantastic Four hasn’t had a great track record cinematically over at Fox. But now that Kevin Feige has control, that will most certainly change.
You can bet they’ll want to begin incorporating the new titles into the Marvel Cinematic Universe sooner rather than later. Or, Feige may choose to keep the universes separate, until such time as the Marvel Secret Wars story arc can be developed, where the Avengers battle The X-Men. My son would prefer the House of M, though, where the universes get blown up and rebuilt through the power of Scarlet Witch. Or maybe Civil War II? But that’s all speculation based on the comic books.
Over at Lucasfilm, executives are rejoicing because the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope will be reunited with other Lucasfilm properties. Fox owns the original Star Wars chapter in perpetuity, and that’s what has kept Disney from releasing any new box sets until they could secure a better deal for including it (the most recent one debuted in 2011 on Blu-ray).
But the question on every fan’s mind is, would it mean the original theatrical release where Han shot first, or will it be the “special edition?” Lucasfilm doesn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to answer that one. Here’s hoping that the Fox Fanfare returns to the Star Wars opening. I’ve missed it.
So in the end, Iger is making his biggest acquisition yet, and while 2021 is just over the horizon, he shows no sign of slowing down.