In what could potentially be the most far-reaching and impactful movie industry news story of 2017, CNBC is reporting that The Walt Disney Company is in early talks to potentially purchase parts of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of both the 20th Century Fox movie studio and the Fox Television production company, along with other media assets like FX Networks and National Geographic, as well as international platforms like Star and Sky.
The deal would not encompass Fox News, the FOX broadcast network, local broadcasting affiliates or Fox’s sports programming assets, which would remain as part of the Fox empire. Disney already owns ABC and ESPN, and believes incorporating Fox’s sports coverage would encompass a monopoly and make them a target of an anti-trust case.
So what does this mean for movie fans? Right off the bat, you could expect Fox’s X-Men (including Deadpool and Wolverine) and Fantastic Four properties to be properly incorporated into Disney’s Marvel Studios, helping them get one step closer to bringing all their wayward comic book assets back under one roof. Disney would also acquire such heavyweight franchises as Alien, Predator, Planet of the Apes, Kingsman, Die Hard and, most enticingly, Avatar. James Cameron is currently at the helm of filming four back-to-back Avatar sequels to the most successful movie of all-time, and already worked closely with Disney on the new attraction Pandora – The World of Avatar at Orlando’s Disney World. It would also mean that Lucasfilm could bring Star Wars entirely back under their umbrella, as Fox still owns the rights to 1977’s original Star Wars, which could translate to a Blu-ray release of the original trilogy in its untampered-with form, and possibly theatrical re-releases.
A deal would also be great for Disney’s upcoming streaming service. The additional movie content from 20th Century Fox would make the service a big competitor to something like Netflix.
The article notes that neither side is currently active in talks, but it has been up for discussion for several weeks. A deal this large would also likely have to be approved by the government, and could take some time to negotiate the fine details. In 2016, Buena Vista (Disney) was #1 with over 26% of the movie market share of domestic box office alone, while Fox took slightly under 13% to place third. With the two studios combined, it would make Disney the most formidable (and more than a little frightening) force in the industry, if they aren’t that already.
ComingSoon.net will keep you up to date on any new movement on this potentially momentous deal!