A couple days ago, one of the biggest acquisitions since Walt Disney Company buying Lucasfilm back in 2012 went down. Disney also bought Marvel back in 2009 for $4.24 billion (another huge deal), allowing them access to some of the world’s most beloved characters and spawning a cinematic universe unlike any other. Now, with the recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, Disney has the unique opportunity to do what they haven’t been able to do for the past 8 years: bring the rest of the Marvel characters over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, give them the last piece of the Star Wars franchise puzzle, and give them access to all of Fox’s previous and upcoming titles.
Marvel Scores New Characters
Disney will effectively take control of both 20th Century Fox for films and 20th Century Fox for TV shows. The deal will allow the massive conglomerate the chance to bring Marvel characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that were originally left out because rights didn’t permit them to be included. Characters from the X-Men universe and The Fantastic Four and all the villains associated with them (like Doom and Galactus) will potentially join the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, which will hit theaters in 2019. Beloved mutants like Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Professor Xavier, Jean Grey, Deadpool, and many others will soon get the chance to save the day alongside the Avengers. I mean, Wolverine was technically supposed to be apart of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The biggest issue that Marvel and Disney has had with their Marvel Cinematic Universe is being able to incorporate certain characters into the stories in which they were originally supposed to be a part of. As a result, the plot which depended on some of these characters had to make changes in order to make up for the loss. One example of this resides in the 2015 film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was based (loosely) on the 2013 limited comic book series. Of course, the movie included the Avengers and other characters that Marvel and Disney were able to use, like Vision. Although, the movie wasn’t terrible, I think it could’ve been better if it was able to take advantage of Wolverine and Storm’s presence, Doctor Doom’s Time Platform, and at least mention of The Fantastic Four. Moving forward, Marvel has the opportunity to use these characters as they deem fit within their cinematic universe.
Disney Gets the Final Piece of Star Wars
Disney has been involved with the most recent iteration of the Star Wars franchise since the development and release of 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the success of that, Rogue One, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I think it’s safe to say that the future of the Star Wars franchise is in safe hands (although some super fans would disagree). The last piece of the puzzle, though, that Disney hasn’t been able to place is now in reach due to the recent events surrounding 21st Century Fox. The original deal George Lucas made with Fox gave him distribution rights to the original Star Wars film (later renamed Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope).
With Disney’s acquisition of Fox, they now have the opportunity to release A New Hope on DVD or BlueRay (or whatever they decide) in it’s original format. Not to say that the changes George Lucas made to the film after it’s theatrical release are terrible, but the more loyal fan base who wants to see the movie as it was originally released are given only one option: to watch the version that has all of these changes. The original version may be downloadable, but being able to walk into a store and see it on the shelves would be much nicer.
The last order of business for Disney in regards to the Star Wars franchise is the 20th Century fanfare which was used to accompany the first six films. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, that iconic combination of percussion and brass used to set the mood for your journey to a galaxy far, far away. It’s been absent for the The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi. Disney can now, legally, use Fox’s fanfare in future Star Wars films, but the question remains: Will they?
Disney Acquires More than Just a Name
For more than 80 years, Fox has built up its library of movies and television shows. The most notable acquisition that Disney will potentially get in regards to Fox’s film studio is the rights to the Avatar franchise. The original was first released in 2009 and is the highest-grossing film of all time, bringing in $2.79 billion worldwide. There are four sequels planned to be released from 2021 to 2025, making the franchise an important addition to Disney’s collection of upcoming films. Some other important Fox franchises include: Alien, Predator, Kingsman, and Independence Day, all having movies released within the past year or, in the case of The Predator, next year. If all goes according to plan, Disney would also acquire Fox Searchlight Pictures, the indie subdivision of 20th Century Fox responsible for three Best Picture Oscars in the past decade (Slumdog Millionaire, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave).
Fox’s television studios will give Disney a huge increase in TV popularity, as Fox has a lot of admired content programming at the moment. This ranges from This is Us, although airing on NBC is produced by Fox; Modern Family, although airing on ABC is produced by Fox as well; Empire; the newly revived The X-Files; and The Gifted, Fox’s live-action series based on the X-Men. Disney would also acquire Fox 21 Television Studios–known for its role in making Showtime’s Homeland–FX, FXX, FXM, and FX Productions. The FX division of 20th Century Fox Television is responsible for the other X-Men series on the air right now, Legion, as well as other acclaimed shows such as The Americans, Fargo, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The final subsidiary that Disney would acquire in regards to television would be Fox Television Animation, which makes The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers. 21st Century Fox will retain the rights the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, and Fox Sports 1.
But what’s most important about this deal is Disney’s continued dedication to the future of television: streaming. The company would own 60 percent of Hulu, as many of the shows that stream on that service are made by Fox or its subsidiaries. Disney has also made plans to create two of its own streaming services: ESPN Plus, a sports service that’ll offer programming not even available in ESPN’s current TV channels (coming spring 2018), and an unnamed service that’ll give users the ability to watch anything from Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and, now, assuming all goes to plan, from Fox (coming 2019). CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, has said that these services will cost much less than what Netflix is charging. But, on the other end of the stick, all of those Marvel, Disney, Pixar, and Lucasfilm titles on Netflix will be taken off to be put on the new service.
I use the word “would” a lot because all of what I’ve mentioned is not yet set in stone. If Disney doesn’t experience any difficulties down the road, then they shouldn’t have any trouble in making what I’ve talked about a reality. Because they’ve acquired 21st Century Fox and all of its assets, they are more than likely going to have access to all of the titles and characters–and more–previously mentioned. Stay in the loop for any more news regarding this deal. What do you think about it? Does Disney owning so much in the entertainment business scare you? Or does it pave the way for the future, as Bob Iger wants so badly to do?