So that did, indeed, just happen.
After a month of hush-hush talk, rumor, and finally anticipation for a near done deal, Disney did something no one thought possible last year — they have purchased the entertainment assets of 20th Century Fox, for the most expensive accusation in company–and Hollywood–history. And I know what you are thinking, you little entertainment blog reading nerd, you: the MCU can now use the X-Men! And might be able to make a good Fantastic Four movie! And they can now open the Star Wars movies with the Fox fanfare again (this one is extremely unlikely but, still, I know you are thinking about it!) But this deal doesn’t just have ramifications on all the geek stuff that you (and, admittedly, I) like — this deal is going to send shockwaves throughout the entire industry, waves that we won’t even fully comprehend until months and years from now.
But, for now, this is what we are left with: the facts. Disney has purchased the assets belonging to 20th Century Fox for a massive, massive $52.4 billion. For reference sake, Disney purchased Marvel for $4.24 billion, Lucasfilm for $4 billion, and Pixar for $7.4 billion. By comparison, those deals were mere pennies compared to how much Disney is looking at acquiring Fox for.
But, to be fair, Disney is getting a lot more than a brand or two by buying Fox. Every film that the Fox studio has ever made is now there’s (literally thousands and thousands of films). Hundreds of huge TV shows, including huge hits like The Simpsons and Family Guy. A 30% stake in Hulu which, adding to Disney’s already owned 30%, makes them the majority owner. Cable brands like FX, FXX, and National Geographic. In fact, Disney pretty much gets everything associated with Fox aside from Fox News, Fox Sports, and the Fox Broadcast channel. Everything else, from Avatar to X-Files, is now under control of Disney.
Which, yes, is a big fucking deal. I mean, just look at the past two months of box office: In November, the first two weeks of box office were owned by Thor: Ragnarok, a Disney distributed film. Justice League (a Warner Bros. brand) took things over for a mere week…until it was replaced by Coco, also a Disney film, for an additional two weeks. And now Star Wars: The Last Jedi is opening into theaters, and will likely be number one for at least a month, if not more. In fact, the movie most likely to take the Number One spot from The Last Jedi? The Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which is being distributed by FOX. So if the merger was already 100% in effect, that means a Disney movie would have been thwarted by a Disney movie thwarted by a Disney movie thwarted by ANOTHER DISNEY MOVIE.
And, once again, this goes far beyond movies. There’s also television, of which Fox was a huge component of, with huge brands like How I Met Your Mother, American Horror Story, and literally dozens of other things providing for a nice, healthy marketplace. Now it’s all just Disney, which is really quite insane. And here’s the sad, twisted tragedy of it all: I REALLY like Disney.
In fact, if I were forced to pick my “favorite” of the Big 5 movie studios currently working in Hollywood…yeah, I would have to go with Walt Disney Pictures. And the reason why is, honestly, quite simple: at this point in time, they actually seem pretty committed to making good movies. They are one of the few companies that seem to realize that generally well-received products = an increase of profits, and do that by making films like Thor: Ragnarok, Coco, and the new Star Wars films — all movies I generally like and have no qualms watching. I love Pixar movies, I love Disney animation movies, I love Marvel movies, I like Lucasfilm stuff — I generally respect the quality of films that Disney attaches itself too.
But I still think about this deal, and still mostly feel a mix of apprehension and fear. Disney has become the defacto most powerful name in Entertainment, to the point I worry about what becomes of everything that isn’t the Mouse House. It isn’t a big secret that Hollywood is doing pretty poorly in recent times, with increased pressure coming from streaming giants like Netflix, who continue to get a big piece of the entertainment pie, and won’t be slowing down in the immediate future. In fact, a big reason Disney purchased Fox in the first place was to combat this problem in the first place (they are starting their own streaming service, don’t you forget, and need all the content they can get to make it viable.) But with Disney acquiring everything left and right, is it only a matter of time before Sony, no longer interested in having a film production arm, also decides to sell of its properties. And then Disney will buy them. And maybe Warner Bros, looking for a space franchise to go against Star Trek, will buy Paramount. And so and so on until there’s like, two companies left.
Which, I must emphasize, is bad for everyone. Competition is the lifeblood of any industry, entertainment especially, and the moment the world of theatrical production is owned by one gigantic company, things will suffer creatively as well. For now, I just have to remain confident in my trust in Disney — they make movies I love, and I can only hope they will continue to do so in the future. But as much as I liked Thor: Ragnarok and Coco…my favorite movie of the year might just be Logan. And would a film as uniformly strange and adult be made under a Fox-branded Disney? I like to hope so, I really do. Because, so far at least, none of Disney’s acquisitions have particularly ruined a brand. But with big mergers like this, I just have to be wary. This is crazy territory we are entering here, and there’s a ton of things I love caught in the mix.
For what it’s worth, we won’t really know what impact Disney has on Fox for a while now: the stuff the studio was already making for next year (like Deadpool 2 and Shane Black’s The Predator) are still going to be released, likely in the same state they would have been under Fox proper. But there’s a lot of plates in the air right now, and I have no idea where things will settle. I have hope the art will not suffer in the midst of this commercialism, but far from confidence in that idea. We shall see in the coming year, I guess.
In the meantime…yeah, Wolverine will probably fight an Avenger at some point. So that’s cool, I guess.
Also published on Medium.