Disney reportedly in talks to buy 20th Century Fox

Disney reportedly in talks to buy 20th Century Fox

0 comments 📅07 November 2017, 12:42

That headline alone should send a shiver down your spine.

It seems Disney CEO Bob Iger, who brought Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm under the Disney umbrella during his tenure has one more major purchase up his sleeve, before he reportedly steps down. CNBC reports that 21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of its company to Disney, which would include the feature film and TV divisions, meaning all the original Star Wars trilogy films would officially be owned by Lucasfilm/Disney, including of course the original, untampered cut of Star Wars: A New Hope.

It would also mean that every major Marvel Comics property that Fox owns – including X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool – would come under the Marvel Studios umbrella, opening new opportunities to combine these various characters within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

CNBC notes that this is at a very early stage and Bloomberg reports that while talks between Disney and Fox did take place over the past few weeks, talks have now stalled. The fact that this story is breaking now feels a little like a leak intended to move the process along.

That’s a very wealthy mouse

Evidently, 21st Century Fox believes that it can’t compete with the size of other studios and that Disney has the scale required to take its film and television productions to new heights.

But 21st Century Fox wouldn’t sell all of its company. By offloading its media properties, the studio would keep a tight focus on news and sports. Since a company can’t own two broadcast networks, Fox would remain under the 21st Century Fox umbrella and so would the Fox sports programming as joining forces between ESPN and Fox Sports could be seen as anti-competitive from an antitrust standpoint. The same reasoning relates to their decision not to buy Fox News or Fox Business, which would also remain with 21st Century Fox.

However, Disney would own the movie studio, TV production and international assets and networks such as FX, National Geographic and possibly even Sky. The movie implications are the largest here, from the consumer’s point of view. Fox has done a nice job over the past year or two with building up its own Marvel universe with divergent films like Logan (2017) and the upcoming New Mutants, Deadpool 2 and X-Force.  The timeline implications of incorporating these into the MCU would be a nightmare, so it’s more than likely Disney would keep those separate for now while allowing Marvel Studios to reboot properties like the Fantastic Four under the MCU umbrella.

Could this signal the end of R-rated movies as we know them?

Of course, a lot is unclear at this point, including whether Disney would continue Fox’s track record of making quality R-rated superhero movies? Will every movie from here on be a PG-13? And what would the consolidation mean for diversity in cinema? With one less major movie studio around taking risks on bold stories, would artists suffer? Would this deal even be allowed to go ahead?

The Justice Department might take a long look. To illustrate the market power of such a merger, Disney’s Buena Vista studio and 20th Century Fox together accounted for more than 40 percent of US film-studio revenue in 2016. It would not be absurd to imagine that, in a good year for 21st Century Disney, it would account for half of the domestic movie business,

From a financial standpoint the potential here is…frightening and the merchandising opportunities alone for Disney would be reason enough to make the purchase.

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