Two days ago, Heidi posted a great write-up full of analysis from across various outlets about what the then impending Disney purchase of 20th Century Fox meant for the entertainment industry. It’s a good piece well worth reading.
I, of course, now return briefly with the news that the deal is done, at least the announcement stage. Per Variety here are the big components:
- The deal values the 21st Century Fox assets in the transaction at $66.1 billion, including $13.7 billion in 21st Century Fox debt, or $28 a share. The enterprise value of the deal is $69 billion.
- Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger has extended his contract with the company for another two years, through the end of 2021, in order to oversee the integration of the assets.
- 21st Century Fox shareholders will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each Fox share held, giving Fox shareholders about 25% of Disney.
- 21st Century Fox will spinoff Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox Sports, Fox News, Fox Television Stations and a handful of other assets into a new company that will have revenue of $10 billion and earnings of about $2.8 billion. The 20th Century Fox lot in Century City will also remain with the spinoff Fox company.
- 21st Century Fox will continue to pursue its acquisition of the remaining 61% stake in Euro satcaster Sky that it does not already own with the intention of Disney taking it over when the Disney-Fox transaction is completed.
- Disney expects to realize $2 billion in cost savings from combining Disney and Fox’s overlapping businesses within two years of the deal’s closing.
- Disney expects the regulatory review of the acquisition to take as long as 18 months.
Of course, putting aside television consideration (and the future direction of a great producer of programming like FX), the big interest here for the comics crowd is that indeed the X-Men (including Deadpool) and the Fantastic Four, and all their key allies and antagonists are coming home under the Marvel Studios banner. It’s been relatively clear that Kevin Feige and company have remained mum about Phase 4, likely in anticipation for this deal and the effect it will have on their ongoing slate of films.
I’m certain they will not be able to resist the marketing hook of Phase 4/Fantastic Four.
But that also opens up a question regarding what happens with the existing cast of Fox’s already in-production X-Men films. Will their most currently successful star, Ryan Reynolds, stay on-board as Deadpool? What about the entire crew of the upcoming Dark Phoenix feature? Admittedly, Disney has a much easier out there, since those movies all take place in the past (likely the one benefit of that period piece direction that really never quite worked after First Class), so they could just presume any new actors they cast are the older versions of these same characters.
Or they could just ignore it all, just as likely. The Fantastic Four bit is more exciting, beyond its cinematic implications, in that it will surely coerce Marvel the publisher to *finally* bring that title back, and re-position the Inhumans back to their proper spot as a supporting player in that franchise and less of a replacement X-Men.
It’s going to take more than a year for the deal to complete, so you won’t magically start seeing hints of anything by Infinity War, but its sequel? That seems a safe bet.
Also, through this purchase, the likelihood of Star Wars fans getting an unaltered original trilogy just went up a whole heck of a lot.
I will admit some wistfulness though, as was discussed in the comments of Heidi’s previous article, the potential for losing a creator/distributor of strong dramas in Fox Searchlight is a worrying proposition. Disney has a terrible track-record for more prestigious fare – it’s really their Achilles heel in some respect, but perhaps they’ll keep those pieces in place and become a major end of year awards player. Or this could be the opportunity for the A24’s and even the Neon’s of the world to take up a bigger chunk of that market.
More to come, but calling this a very big deal is an understatement. No matter what, the Murdochs are coming out a big winner, as by most analysis, they’re exiting the film industry at a time when the value of the studio will only go down. Sell high everybody!