- Disney tops Hollywood hierarchy closing 21st Century Fox deal
- Disney’s iron grip on Hollywood will be extended
- Expect fewer X-Men as the Marvel team comes together
- And perhapsa change in Disney’s Marvel frontline
- A new global streaming service to rival Netflix
- And more Fox News
- The Fascinating Implications of a Disney–21st Century Fox Deal
- The Expansion of the MCU
- A Streaming Site That Could Actually Disrupt the Status Quo
- The Uniting of the Star Wars Franchise
- A Whole New World of IP
- OK, a Few Negative Effects
- The Really Bad Effects Of The Disney-Fox Deal, Explained
- The Disney-Fox Deal Means Major Job Losses
- of 3: How The Disney Purchase Of Fox Changes How You See Movies
Disney tops Hollywood hierarchy closing 21st Century Fox deal
Disney closed its $71bn (£54bn) acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox film and entertainment assets this week, bringing The Simpsons, Star Wars and The Avengers under one roof. The deal combines Disney’s film studios, ABC broadcasting network and theme parks with Fox’s film and TV studios, and the FX and National Geographic broadcast networks.
It confirms Disney’s position at the top of the Hollywood hierarchy but also represents a fightback against the technology industry and the upheaval caused by its forays into the entertainment business through Netflix and Amazon in particular. Here are six changes to expect from the Disney/Fox deal.
Disney’s iron grip on Hollywood will be extended
Disney’s deal will enable it to take control of the 104-year-old 20th Century Fox, the biggest change in the Hollywood landscape since MGM’s demise in the 1980s.
Disney has a remarkable array of film production talent which includes three powerhouses: Toy Story-maker Pixar; Lucasfilm, the home of Star Wars; and the all-conquering Marvel, which made Iron Man, Black Panther and the Avengers series.
Fox’s film division, fresh off an Oscar haul from the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, will add valuable franchises such as the X-Men universe, Avatar, Deadpool and the Kingsman series. As a result, the so-called “big six” of Hollywood studios is down to five, and the already dominant Disney will extend its box-office power.
Disney took a market-leading 26% share of the $12bn US box office last year, while also dominating globally. Overnight this has jumped to 36% after the Fox takeover. By comparison, its closest competitor, Warner Brothers, had a 16% share last year.
Expect fewer X-Men as the Marvel team comes together
When Disney’s deal to buy Fox was first announced Marvel fans rejoiced at the prospect of (most of) the Marvel universe being brought back together for the first time in almost three decades.
Chunks of rights to franchises, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four, had been sold off to different studios when Marvel hit hard times in the 1990s.
The Disney deal has brought them back into the Marvel studios fold but now the on-screen future of the Fox-owned properties is far from clear.
Ryan Reynolds vehicle Deadpool is expected to be the only straightforward switch from the X-Men world to Disney, according to Disney’s chief, Bob Iger.
Disney has inherited two upcoming X-Men films from Fox: Dark Phoenix, which will launch on 7 June, and The New Mutants, which is scheduled for a 2 August release.
After the departure of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in Logan, there could be a hiatus in X-Men fare until 2021 or later.
Expect more from Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Photograph: Allstar/Marvel Studios
And perhaps a change in Disney’s Marvel frontline
When Marvel sold off the rights to some of its assets in the 1990s it hived off its then biggest names, which at the time included franchises such as X-Men and Spider-Man. Much of what Marvel retained was considered then to be B-list superheroes Iron Man and Captain America.
In the hands of Disney, which made the surprise purchase of Marvel for $4bn in 2009, they became box-office gold. But with Chris Evans retiring as Captain America, and with Robert Downey Jr looking increasingly old as Iron Man, there will have to be a new guard.
The success of the new Captain Marvel film starring Brie Larson has already flagged up one successor, while the pipeline includes a standalone Black Widow venture and a film the Kung-Fu master Shang-Chi.
And, for all the uncertainty over X-Men, the new guard on that team could supply some names too.
Hollywood’s workforce will shrink
Disney promised investors that synergies from the $71bn deal would result in $2bn in cost savings. That means job cuts.
Disney is taking on 15,400 Fox employees globally as part of the deal and has promised to hit its savings target over two years with the US in line first, and that means Hollywood will be at the centre of the changes.
Reports have put the cuts at between 4,000 and 10,000, with Fox staff braced to bear the brunt of the losses.
A new global streaming service to rival Netflix
Disney’s move for Fox was driven by the need to bulk up in the contest with the streaming giants, embodied by Netflix, threatening traditional media players.
Rupert Murdoch put 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets up for sale after acknowledging that he didn’t have the global scale to compete, having previously failed to take over Time Warner to achieve that goal.
Disney’s $71bn has brought a wealth of content and the ability to challenge Netflix’s global heft with a streaming service of its own.
From X-Men and Avatar to the Oscar-winning Fox Searchlight unit – behind films including The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and The Favourite – and TV shows spanning The Simpsons, This Is Us and classics including M*A*S*H and 24. Throw in Disney fare from Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar and the company hopes the service, which will launch later this year and be “cheaper than Netflix”, will protect its business in a viewing age increasingly dominated by streaming services.
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And more Fox News
Rupert Murdoch may have sold off his global entertainment assets but he remains a media force, keeping control of the rightwing Fox News and the Fox Sports broadcasting business.
He also continues to control News Corp, home of his global publishing assets including the Times and the Sun. “Are we retreating? Absolutely not,” said Rupert Murdoch in a conference call announcing the sale to Disney in December 2017. “I am a news man with a competitive spirit.
Fox News is probably the strongest brand in all of television. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment.”
Last week, a day before the completion of the Disney/Fox deal, Murdoch’s new entity, Fox Corp, began trading on the US stock market. The octogenarian shows no sign of backing the spotlight just yet.
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The Fascinating Implications of a Disney–21st Century Fox Deal
A disturbance in the force has emerged in the entertainment industry, as CNBC reported Tuesday that Disney is closing in on a deal to acquire a large portion of 21st Century Fox.
If it went through, Fox would keep its news and sports assets, but would sell its cable networks—such as National Geographic and FX—its stakes in Hulu and the British TV company Sky, and its film and TV studios.
(21st Century Fox contains both the film production company 20th Century Fox and Fox Entertainment Group.)
While nothing is set in stone—though the deal could be finalized as early as next week—this acquisition would have major implications for the TV and film industry.
And while there is certainly something to be said about the legality of this deal, and how it would ly tamp down creativity and competition, some of the other implications of a Disney-Fox team-up are genuinely exciting and interesting to think about. Here are just a few effects the Disney deal would have on both TV and film.
The Expansion of the MCU
The biggest takeaway for superhero nerds is that Disney would be able to add to its already impressive slate of superheroes. In addition to the Avengers, Disney would have its hands on characters from the X-Men and Fantastic Four.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is already a massive, hugely profitable enterprise, but it will soon be moving into a new phase of development after Avengers 4, ly the last film that will feature some of the MCU’s biggest heroes, such as Chris Evans’s Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.
There’s been a healthy amount of speculation as to whom the MCU would lean on once the Avengers were phased out.
It’s not Disney and Marvel were going to run heroes—Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies are on the way, and we just got reintroduced to Spider-Man—but acquiring Fox would give the MCU even more to work with.
It’d be particularly interesting to see Disney take a swing at a film featuring the Fantastic Four since, despite multiple attempts, there has yet to be a serviceable movie made about those superheroes. Either way, before long, you may be seeing Magneto toss a vending machine at the Incredible Hulk.
A Streaming Site That Could Actually Disrupt the Status Quo
Even if Netflix says it isn’t worried about Disney launching its own streaming service sometime in 2019, the Disney-Fox merger would ostensibly give the Mouse House even more tantalizing, exclusive titles to work with.
Star Wars, the MCU, Pixar, and Disney’s animated films would all be part of the new service—Netflix has some of these movies now, but Disney plans to pull its titles from the streamer ahead of its offering’s launch.
Plus, the company is planning a live-action Star Wars series that could have some “next Game of Thrones” vibes, and that you could only watch on its service.
Now, add to that shows from networks FX (maybe this would finally get people to watch The Americans), a backlog of classic television (In Living Color, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all of The Simpsons), and movies from 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures (the Planet of the Apes franchise! Wes Anderson!), and you have a library with some of the best, widest-ranging content out there. A Disney streaming site on its own may not have been strong enough to make Netflix sweat, but adding Fox and everything that comes with it could do just that.
The Uniting of the Star Wars Franchise
I don’t know about you, but I associated the start of a Star Wars movie with 20th Century Fox’s theme for so long; it was Pavlov’s dog for a galaxy far, far away. It genuinely threw me off when The Force Awakens—the first Star Wars movie after Disney acquired Lucasfilm—began in silence.
With this merger, all of the Star Wars movies would be under one roof again. That doesn’t mean some seismic shift for the franchise—Disney was always going to make more Star Wars movies—but it does bring everything together.
That’d allow Disney to do big things in distributing the franchise—think of the massive box set it could put together, or the prospect of all the Star Wars movies being neatly packaged on that new streaming service.
And maybe we’d get that familiar theme back.
A Whole New World of IP
Superhero movies notwithstanding, Disney would gain valuable franchises from 20th Century Fox in other areas. Remember James Cameron’s Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time? Disney would have its hands on the film’s four planned sequels.
Say what you will about the actual quality of Avatar—I contend it’s quite unmemorable; can someone tell me what happened to Sam Worthington?—but that is a valuable piece of IP to include with Disney’s massive entertainment empire.
Add to that the Planet of the Apes series, Ridley Scott’s future Alien movies, the Predator franchise, Ice Age, Die Hard (Bruce Willis still needs paychecks), and more. This is a lot of stuff.
Disney could also reboot any number of franchises from Fox’s older titles.
Horror movies are having a critical and commercial renaissance thanks to the s of Get Out and It; could we see another Omen film? What if Disney decided to reboot M*A*S*H? Who would say no to a new Sound of Music, aside from Julie Andrews purists? Assuming the deal goes through, Disney would basically become a synonym for entertainment.
OK, a Few Negative Effects
This deal would be so massive, it might be illegal. And in terms of creativity, the merging of studios and elimination of diverse production strategies is almost definitely a bad thing.
Marvel head Kevin Feige has described the MCU as a “shared sandbox,” and that’s an apt description for Disney as a whole. While the Mouse House knows how to make a box office hit—be it a Marvel movie, an animated movie, or a Star Wars movie—it doesn’t have a great reputation for being a haven for creativity.
Auteurs Edgar Wright (who was going to direct Ant-Man) and the directing tandem Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the original Han Solo movie directors) have been pushed out the door for assuming too much creative liberty; something Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok or James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is probably the edgiest thing you’ll see under Disney.
Can you imagine that what Ryan Reynolds pulled to get Deadpool to the big screen would ever fly at Marvel or Lucasfilm? Would Marvel have let Hugh Jackman turn Wolverine into a depressed, suicidal alcoholic in a gritty, R-rated Western? Would Disney look at War for the Planet of the Apes and think, “Sure, let’s spend $150 million to make The Bridge on the River Kwai, but with monkeys”? Even 20th Century Fox’s recent flops, whatever the hell A Cure for Wellness was supposed to be, are at least audacious attempts to reinvigorate the box office with something people haven’t seen before.
Just from a general standpoint, decreasing the number of studios that make movies and TV in turn decreases the amount of creative voices or perspectives. It’s not that bold, eccentric movies would no longer exist, but fewer would be green-lit if two of Hollywood’s biggest studios were under the same, controlling roof.
Of course, all of this is speculative—for now. Disney is already the Galactic Empire of the entertainment industry, with or without the deal. However, having 21st Century Fox under its corporate umbrella would be giving Disney a Death Star. Who could stop it then?
The Really Bad Effects Of The Disney-Fox Deal, Explained
With Disney’s acquisition of Fox all but confirmed, the truly dark side-effects of this monumental deal have come under scrutiny. In December 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to acquire 21st Century Fox for around $52 billion in stock.
This deal would give them control over some of the most iconic and historical assets in the modern American entertainment industry, including 20th Century Fox's film and TV studios, the Fox Networks Group and its assorted cable networks such as FX, and stakes in National Geographic and Hulu.
After fending off competition from Comcast, Disney upped their bid for Fox to a staggering $71.3 billion, with the acquisition being approved by shareholders on July 27th, 2018. The deal could be fully confirmed by June 2019.
Much has been written on the seismic impact the Disney-Fox acquisition will have on the entertainment industry and international media as a whole.
Disney were already one of the most powerful media entities on the planet, having built up a sizeable fortune over the decades off the backs of their iconic image and the tenets of Walt Disney himself.
Over the last ten years or so, their profits have exploded thanks to their purchases of major pop culture properties Marvel and Star Wars, ensuring their undisputed domination of the worldwide box office. For the past three years running, Disney has had more films in the worldwide top ten highest-grossing films than any other studio.
Related: A Complete Timeline Of The Disney-Fox Deal
The Fox deal will not only give Disney film rights to the X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four franchises – almost completing the Marvel line-up – but control over major properties Alien, Avatar, and The Simpsons, to name but three.
It will also give them the majority stake in streaming service Hulu and stakes in studios internationally, such as Fox India.
The merger of these two movie giants could give Disney an unprecedented 40% control over the worldwide box office.
This is a level of power and industry-wide influence that has been widely criticized since the acquisition was first announced. Many industry experts warned of the negative consequences of a media monopoly on this scale and although the magnitude of it may not be fully evident until all the paperwork is signed, we are seeing the first rumblings of change happening and the signs aren’t good.
The Disney-Fox Deal Means Major Job Losses
During mergers, job losses are inevitable, and when the companies involved are on the scale of Disney and Fox, it's safe to say that industry experts were predicting something of a bloodbath for Fox employees.
An October 2018 article from The Hollywood Reporter cited claims from Fox executives that “generous severance” would be offered to those soon-to-be-laid-off workers, but no indication at the time was given as to how many layoffs were expected.
Former CEO of 20th Century Fox Film Stacey Snider noted in an interview with Variety how stressful this situation was for the many Fox employees whose job security was at risk for “a whole year”.
Numbers vary on how many employees will lose their jobs after the merger.
In an ominously titled piece in The Hollywood Reporter that referred to the merger as “making 21st Century Fox disappear”, the number given was 4000 layoffs from a base of 22,000 employees worldwide (Disney, by comparison, has about 201,000 employees worldwide). However, even they say that number may be a conservative prediction, and cite “Disney-skeptic” analyst Rich Greenfield who puts the number anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000.
Related: How The Disney Purchase Has Already Impacted Fox
Layoffs on this scale won’t happen all at once. They’ll be staggered across weeks or even months to make the extent of the damage seem lessened (a common tactic with businesses, as evidenced by the recent layoffs at Buzzfeed, which took several days).
That’s a long time for those employees to wait to find out their fate, and it’s a disastrous step for the industry at large to put so many people work.
The human cost of such business decisions is oft-overlooked during reporting, which much of the focus on fizzier stories what films will be made next, but with thousands of people about to be unemployed and one less studio available for them to work at, this merger will have an immediately negative impact that goes far beyond the supposed upsides.
of 3: How The Disney Purchase Of Fox Changes How You See Movies
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