CNBC, which seems to have a bug planted in the room where Fox/Disney merger talks are being held, reports that the acquisition will be announced Thursday.
In the spirit of the “End times” vibe we’re living in, this deal is seismic, seeing the number of big movie studios go from six to five, and with Fox, one of the fabled studios from the Golden Age of Tinseltown reduced to a shingle at Disney. Variety offers a bit more context:
Not all of Fox’s assets will go to Disney. The company will retain Fox News, the Fox broadcast network, and Fox Sports 1, which will be reconstituted into a new, independent company. According to CNBC, that would be worth roughly $10 a share. As part of the deal, Fox shareholders will get a stake in the new company, along with shares of Disney. The pact is expected to dramatically reshape the entertainment business, eliminating one of the six major studios and giving Disney access to a vast library of shows and movies as it tries to launch a streaming competitor to Netflix. Under CEO Bob Iger, Disney has established a reputation for spending big to nab major entertainment companies, shelling out billions for the likes of Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm.
Notably, the single thing that everyone has said about tha deal is that FINALLY the X-men can be united into the Marvel Cinematic universe. For those who don’t follow studios, Fox owns the rights to the X-men, mutants, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four. Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and Disney/Marvel owns the rest.
While it’s exciting to think of Deadpool meeting Groot…the idea of a bunch of superhero movies driving the fate of Hollywood’s biggest studios was once unthinkable but now…business as usual.
Let me rephrase that – is it REALLY that exciting to see Deadpool meet Groot? Wasn’t the Deadpool movie absolutely perfect as it was with the use of cheap X-men – Colossus and the now iconic Negasonic Teenage Warhead – making it a far better film then if the entire mutant army had shown up?
Be careful what you wish for.
Logan director James Mangold sounded a note of caution in an interview at Deadline:
“The real thing that happens when you make a movie rated R, behind the scenes, is that the studio has to adjust to the reality that there will be no Happy Meals. There will be no action figures,” Mangold said. “The entire merchandising, cross-pollinating side of selling the movie to children is dead before you even start. And when that’s dead, it means you’re making a grown-up movie.”
Once the studio adjusts its expectations, he added, “you don’t come under the pressure of how a 12-year-old is going to react to the movie, not just in terms of violence or language but in terms of pace or even the depth of interest in what people are talking about.”
Given MCU Mastermind Kevin Feige’s tussles over tone with Edgar Wright and other filmmakers who wanted to stray a bit from Feige ranch, one can legitimately wonder if it would have been possible to make excellent, R-rated films Deadpool and Logan under this new Disney/Fox regime. It’s a very serious question, and even if the MCU is the chocolate cake of entertainment – a solid, crowd pleasing choice – eventually you get tired of everything, even chocolate cake. We need more voices not fewer.
Crossover events aside, the real world implications of this deal are huge, as numerous thinkpieces have discussed.
Disney would own The Simpsons. Mind blown.
Scott Mendelson puts it very simply: (emphasis mine,)
Last year, Walt Disney had a jaw-dropping 26% of the domestic box office while Fox had 13%. With Fox and Disney combined into one entity, it’s plausible to see Walt Disney’s theatrical output controlling close to 40% of the theatrical business. With that kind of hold, the Mouse House could essentially rewrite the rules for how its movies are seen in theaters (higher ticket prices, higher percentages back to the studios, exclusive auditorium control, etc.) in a way that wouldn’t remotely help the likes of Universal or Warner Bros.
Slashfilm looks at many of the ins and outs, from the further erosion of mid-budget movies to the potential loss of Blue Sky Studios, Fox’s animation arm, to the final death of the Inhumans as an X-Men substitute and, most importantly, the obvious human toll:
Negative: Fox Employees Could Lose Their Jobs
Since originally publishing this piece, a Slashfilm reader pointed out that we failed to mention another obvious negative to this potential acquisition: the hundreds of jobs that could be on the line for current Fox employees. Corporate acquisitions don’t often allow for a clean and easy transfer of power – at best, the buyer replaces people in power with whomever they think are right for those jobs, and at worst, they decide to clean house completely, wiping out entire departments and putting them under the purview of previously-existing management ecosystems. We’ve been talking about the acquisition in big picture terms, but it’s worth remembering that there’s a human cost to something like this as well. (Ben Pearson)
Deadline has a solid round-up of effects on the Fox brand:
1. What will Fox 2.0 look like? In the era of vertical integration, as linear ratings continue to decline — and with them TV advertising revenue — the network business only appears sustainable if a net is aligned with a studio so content can be also exploited internationally and on other platforms. That is why in 2014, 21st Century Fox moved to further integrate its Fox broadcast network and 20th TV by putting them under the same leadership: long-time studio heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman. Since then, Fox has increased the share of owned programming. Last year, the network picked up only one non-20th TV new scripted series, this past May, all new scripted shows came from the sister studio.
The Guardian assesses the impact on Sky News, the news channel Fox owns in the UK:
But just concentrate on what may happen next if the deal is made. Sky TV, including Sky News, would be Disney-controlled. No competition and mergers policy there (which may be why the Competition and Markets Authority has asked for yet more time to make up its mind). Perhaps no one will need to ponder further because the shadow of Murdoch is lifted. But perhaps, too, Disney won’t want to keep Sky News – and its losses – going anyway. A zero-sum game of some sadness.
So yeah, basically, this changes everything. Really and truly. It would be nice to have a Fantastic Four comic again, but the price paid may be much higher than anyone anticipates.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.