To quote a certain mystically inclined neurosurgeon, we’re in the endgame now.
At 12:02 a.m. ET in the morning on Wednesday, March 20, the Walt Disney Company will complete its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, putting the cap on the long-gestating negotiation that sees the merging of these two Hollywood houses.
With the deal, first announced in December 2017 with a multi-billion-dollar price tag, Disney absorbs the 21st Century Fox movie and TV divisions. That includes film rights to the X-Men, Deadpool, and Fantastic Four, as well as the Avatar franchise from James Cameron, the speciality distributor Fox Searchlight (which released Oscar winners The Shape of Water and The Favourite), and TV hits like The X-Files and Empire.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox Corp., however, will remain its own thing and be as Fox News-y as ever. On Tuesday morning, as news of the finalized acquisition was made public, former House Speaker Paul Ryan was appointed to the Fox Corp. board as one of its new members, according to The Wrap.
“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us — one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, said. “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.”
The acquisition includes 21st Century Fox’s 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.
While much has been made on the fan level of the potential for the X-Men characters to join Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe of the Avengers, there are plenty more unknowns.
While the two companies worked out the kinks of this merger, thereby inflating the initial $52.4 billion to $71.3 billion after a rival bid from Comcast, some projects seemed to be in limbo, like The New Mutants and the future of the Deadpool films. “It’s all in Disney’s playground and they get to decide,” X-Men franchise producer Lauren Schuler Donner said in February.
On a corporate level, The Hollywood Reporter anticipates around “4,000 layoffs” are in store.
Disney is also prepping for the release of its own streaming platform, Disney+, which is coming with its own set of original properties, like the live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian and a High School Musical-based series. Will some of the Fox-developed films and television projects now end up on Disney+? Time will tell.
At the very least Ryan Reynolds, who’s had some fun at the prospect of his R-rated Deadpool joining the Avengers, continues to be the beacon of light in this uncertain times.
“Feels like the first day of ‘Pool,” he joked of an image of the Merc heading to Disney on a school bus.
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