The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a whole lot bigger.
After weeks of negotiating and speculating, Walt Disney finally announced their intent to acquire the rights to 21st Century Fox properties for $52 billion, according to a company press release. The deal gives Disney the rights to many properties previously owned by Fox, including X-Men, Deadpool, Wolverine, and the Fantastic 4. Owner Rupert Murdoch would retain ownership of Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, and associated newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.
“I know a lot of people are wondering, ‘Why did the Murdochs come to such a momentous decision?’” Murdoch said of the merger. “Are we retreating? Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment.”
This news is a lot to digest, but let’s break down why exactly this is a big deal to the entertainment industry. In addition to a few of Fox’s Marvel properties, Walt Disney would also purchase the rights to Fox’s other film and television franchises, including Avatar, Home Alone, “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy”, and “This Is Us.” This means that not only would Disney control Fox’s film properties, but they would also control a big portion of Fox’s television assets as well.
In short, this means that Walt Disney would be exercising more control over the entertainment industry in its entirety. This is both a good and bad thing. Good because, in the case of Fox’s Marvel properties, they now can merge over with characters from the MCU, allowing broader opportunities in scope and storytelling. Can you imagine Wolverine, Magneto, and Deadpool all sharing the big screen with the likes of Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Doctor Strange? Such a collaboration is something fans have been hoping for a long time, and it looks like they may finally get their chance to see all of their favorite Marvel superheroes up on the big screen together.
On the other hand, this level of corporate consolidation gives Disney a nasty advantage over the rest of the market, and it may not fare well for Disney’s competitors. For one thing, this gives a sharp edge to Disney’s upcoming streaming service, which is expected to launch in 2019. Previously, Disney only had their own movies, Pixar’s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Star Wars franchise to stream on their platform. A solid gallery for sure, but nowhere near as expansive as Netflix or Hulu’s library. The Fox merger changes things. Now they have access to hundreds of titles to fill their library, including the Alien, Die Hard, and Planet of the Apes franchises. With this merger, Disney is now primed to compete with Netflix and Hulu’s streaming services. This merger will cost both of them a lot of business.
Second, because of this merger, Fox will be completely removed from the filmmaking business, leaving Disney as one of the only major film conglomerates left next to the likes of Warner Bros. and Universal. That much ownership is not healthy for a competitive business market, especially when Disney already owns four billion-dollar entities without Fox (Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm).
The mixed-bag of a merger is set to go before the U.S. Department of Justice next year, where they will review the deal and decide whether to approve or deny the sale.
– David Dunn
SOURCE: The Walt Disney Company, The Los Angeles Times