The long awaited sale with Disney buying the majority of 21st Century FOX has officially been completed but what does that mean going forward?
On Wednesday at just past 12:02 a.m. ET, Disney’s $71.3 billion dollar purchase of 21st Century FOX was made official.
The sale that originated all the way back in December 2017 was finally closed this week as Disney becomes the owner of many of FOX’s biggest assets including their film studio as well as several networks that were under the 21st Century FOX ownership banner.
“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us—one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”
Included in the sale, Disney now owns the following properties:
“21st Century Fox’s renowned film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation; Fox’s television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21; FX Networks; National Geographic Partners; Fox Networks Group International; Star India; and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.”
To further celebrate the acquisition, the main landing page at The Walt Disney Company website features several staples from FOX including Deadpool and Donald Glover from his popular FX series ‘Atlanta.
FOX will now be rebranded as a ‘New FOX’ with properties such as FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FOX Broadcasting Company, FOX Sports, FOX Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network still under their ownership.
So what does this mean in the short term? Well probably not much to the average viewer who is consuming television series on FX or waiting for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be released on April 26.
It’s the long term changes that will undoubtedly shift the dynamic of the entire entertainment industry over the next few years. Sadly, some reports have said that around 4,000 jobs will be sacrificed as part of this gigantic merger as Disney looks to restructure and eliminate many of the positions that would be duplicated under both companies.
As far as the entertainment side of the business, Disney now owns dozens upon dozens of intellectual properties that once belonged to FOX either through films or television.
Perhaps the most notable acquisition for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the return of the X-Men and Fantastic Four after they were part of the FOX for more than two decades. That means characters like Wolverine, Deadpool and Magneto are all now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ryan Reynolds even dropped a funny Instagram post after the sale was made official as he brings his ‘R’ rated anti-hero to the Disney family.
In the past, Iger has said he doesn’t plan to change the way FOX made films nor does he expect a successful franchise like ‘Deadpool’ to be reinvented just because it doesn’t fit with the typical Disney model for movies.
What is unknown at this time, however, is how quickly Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will begin introducing those characters into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s worth noting that while Marvel has announced plans for several upcoming sequels including another ‘Doctor Strange’ movie as well as ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’, the current schedule is rather non-existent after ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is released in July.
Is that a purposeful plan by Marvel as they begin to orchestrate an even bigger cinematic universe that now includes the X-Men, Fantastic Four and other related characters? That’s unknown but this sale has been ongoing for over a year so it’s hard to believe Feige and his team at Marvel weren’t already hard at work orchestrating plans to introduce these characters in the near future.
Could we even see a surprise cameo at the end of ‘Avengers: Endgame’? Anything seems possible now.
Disney also owns several new networks including FX, which is definitely a lot edgier than the typical fare you’d find on current networks like ABC or the Disney Channel. Once again, Disney executives have said that they don’t plan on making any major changes at networks like FX, especially given the track record they have for huge ratings and a massive amount of awards over the years.
It’s more likely the bigger changes will be behind the scenes with Disney’s new ownership but the leadership at FX including president John Landgraf are expected to stay the same going forward after the sale.
The new sale will also hand over the rights to numerous major franchises under the FOX label including ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ’24’ as well as film franchises such as ‘Alien’ and the ‘Avatar’ films from director James Cameron.
Disney will also become a 60-percent owner in Hulu with 30-percent still owned by Comcast and another 10-percent owned by WarnerMedia (AT&T).
There have been rumors that Disney may look to buy out an even bigger percentage over time because it’s believed that Hulu could be the perfect landing spot for some of FOX’s more adult content such as past series like ‘Sons of Anarchy’, ‘American Horror Story’ or ‘Fargo’.
Disney also plans on launching Disney+ later this year — an all streaming network that will feature first run series such as the ‘Star Wars’ spinoff ‘The Mandalorian’ and a pair of new Marvel series focused on Loki and the Scarlet Witch. It’s entirely possible that a big part of the past FOX catalog could help fill the library needed to make Disney+ a true destination for any fan looking to add another streaming service.
As far as the movies that are currently set for release by FOX, those are still expected to hit theaters as scheduled including ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’, which will likely be the last film featuring those actors in the roles they’ve played in the X-Men universe, although there’s still an outside chance some of them remain as part of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe. It seems more likely Feige will look to relaunch the entire franchise but again anything is possible.
Right now everything remains speculation because Iger and other Disney executives have constantly avoiding making public statements about plans for FOX until the acquisition was completed. Now that the sale has been finished, Disney will almost certainly start rolling out some new initiatives while simultaneously pretending it’s business as usual for now.
Stay tuned for plenty more news as this massive sale is now complete and the dominoes start falling.