Disney has been in the headlines for a while now, and it’s all been largely negative, with news surrounding the box office reception of Solo: A Star Wars Story, followed by the firing of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. What’s a mouse to do?
The answer, as it is for so many of us, is comfort shopping – well, sort of. A bid was announced in December 2017, wherein Disney would merge with 21st Century Fox, for the total of $52.4 billion in stock. Comcast countered with a bid of their own: $65 billion in stock and cash options. This set off a bidding war between the two companies, which was finally resolved when Comcast backed off following Disney’s latest – and final offer: an eye-popping $71.3 billion.
Disney and Fox shareholders voted earlier this week to approve the deal, and though it won’t become official until next year thanks to some regulatory rubberstamps from foreign governments, it now puts the following under the control of the House of Mouse: Fox’s television and movie studio, cable television channels FX and National Geographic, a stake in streaming service Hulu, television operations in India and Fox’s 39 percent stake in London-based pay-TV company Sky.
Understandably, beyond the dollar signs that made this deal so enviable for shareholders of both companies (Fox shareholders can be paid out $38/share, if they so choose), fans everywhere must be asking ‘what does this mean for all the pop culture properties that Fox owns?’
In the movie realm, Marvel can expand their roster even further. The X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises have long been owned by Fox, and they’re now coming home to Marvel Studios. Head honcho Kevin Feige has said that he has no immediate plans to incorporate them into the existing MCU plans – it’s hard to blame him, considering they’re not only wrapping up the Infinity War arc next summer, but kicking off a whole new arc of stories starting with Spider-Man’s next film. At the same time, it’s hard to see the X-Men not getting re-introduced to the Avengers and company at some point.
The Fantastic Four are immediately a more interesting group, if only because there has never truly been a movie that has done them justice – the only passable attempt in the last 20 years was in 2005, which currently sits at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes (it’s hard to imagine that there have been two more FF movies since then, both of which somehow were worse!). Marvel has a real opportunity to do right by one of their oldest superhero teams, and in the process, perhaps set up the MCU for their most dangerous villain yet: Dr. Doom. Given that he was a huge part of the original Infinity Gauntlet storyline back in the 80s, dare I suggest that Doom might make a cameo appearance in next year’s Avengers 4? It’s a longshot – but one can hope.
As much fun as movies are, the real potential for Disney dominance lies on the television side of the deal. While they already own ABC and ESPN (ever wonder why all the latest trailers for Star Wars and Marvel movies debut on Monday Night Football and Good Morning America? Now you know!), Disney has long wanted to compete in the arena of streaming services, where Netflix is king. With a streaming service of their own announced for the near future, the acquisition of Hulu lets Disney launch a multi-pronged attack on Netflix, leaving the ‘adult’ content such as The Handmaid’s Tale and other FX/ABC/Fox content with Hulu, while freeing up their own service for exclusive Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar offerings.
While it’s easy to wonder if consumers are simply cutting the cord only to face the same dilemma of 25+ streaming services, Disney is banking on the fact that we all will be turning to them to get the television shows and movies that we want from birth to death – an idea that, after this deal, isn’t as crazy as it once might have been.
You can find Sho on Twitter at @SNSAlli. He tweets, we promise.