The deal has been nearly two years in the making, but as of 12:02am local time (around 4am GMT), Disney Studios now officially own the rights to 20th Century Fox and all of its assets. Disney CEO Bob Iger is already responsible for some of the biggest mergers in studio history, including the purchase of Marvel Studios (2009), Pixar Animation (2006), and Lucasfilm (2012). Now, with this $71.3 billion deal, Disney becomes one of the single most powerful organisations in Hollywood, owning nearly 40% of today's market share.
Iger had been trying to push through a merger for more than a year, originally proposing a $50 billion deal, but in 2018, when Comcast unexpectedly bid $65 billion in an attempt to undermine Disney's power, he upped his proposition to over $70 billion dollars. As an official welcome, the CEO declared in a press conference: "this is an extraordinary and historic moment for us. One that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders".
With Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox, it also acquires the rights to Fox's 30% share in Hulu (a streaming platform currently only available in the US and Japan), meaning that Disney now own 60% of the platform's shares. Disney also gains possession of some of the studio's most iconic characters, including Marvel comic heroes such as X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four. James Cameron's 'Avatar' franchise also comes with the package; the 2009 first instalment remains to be the top-grossing film of all time, making nearly $3 billion worldwide, and the next instalment is now set to come to theatres in December 2020 under the Mickey Mouse stamp.
Although Disney is known for its family-friendly content, Iger and the studios have reassured fans that Fox's beloved R-rated films (such as 'Deadpool') will live on as before, but that any future projects would be developed a safe distance away from Mickey's magical castle, in order to maintain this child-friendly image. Ryan Reynolds, for one, celebrated the news of the merger on Twitter:
Feels like the first day of 'Pool. pic.twitter.com/QVy8fCxgqr? Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) 19 de marzo de 2019
Although Rupert Murdoch, the previous owner of Fox, retains the rights to Fox News and Fox Sport, Disney now has control of the company's FX channels, National Geographic, and its television network. This includes titles like 'The Simpsons'. As per usual, in its scarily meta insight, said cartoon show predicted this turn of events more than 20 years ago:
Disney announces it has reached a deal to acquire 21st Century Fox, as predicted by a Simpsons episode that first aired on November 8, 1998. pic.twitter.com/kzloJQHeM8? Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) 14 de diciembre de 2017
Many fans celebrated the long-awaited merger deal on social media, rejoicing at this union between their favourite cinematic characters:
The Darker Side of Disney
However, while many fans are rejoicing at the news, especially those eager to see their favourite comic book characters from Fox uniting with Marvel's 'Avengers', the reality is that all is not sunshine and rainbows in the ever-expanding House of Mouse. According the The Hollywood Reporter, while it was originally predicted that only around 4000 people would lose their jobs with the merger, leading data analyst Rich Greenfield claims that the figure could be close to double that, describing the ripple-effect of this deal as "bloodshed". A top entertainment lawyer also commented on the situation, saying: "This is all unprecedented. Nobody knows who will have a job."
Not only is the deal scary in terms of the thousands of workers who will be left redundant, but people have also commented on the sheer amount of capitalist power that Iger's company has now acquired, becoming the single largest film studio in Hollywood. This consolidation of media outlets is no new concept, but with Disney's new-found power, it means that a significant proportion of the film and television content which we consume will come from this one multi-billion dollar power house. This seemingly insatiable appetite of the famous mouse has been mocked with trepidation on Twitter:
I get people are excited for the new #MCU characters but I hope everyone understands that @Disney's acquisition of @21CF is NOT a good thing for Hollywood. Competition challenges us & pushes us to do better, to be better. When competition is removed we get stagnant & complacent. https://t.co/2XFFCeGokC? André Hutchens (@ac_hutchens) 19 de marzo de 2019
2006: Disney compra Pixar? JJ? (@juanjimver) 19 de marzo de 2019
2010: Disney compra Marvel
2012: Disney compra Lucasfilm
2019: Disney compra 21st Century Fox
2032: Disney compra Reino Unido tras un acuerdo con la Unión Europea finalizando así el Brexit.
"2006: Disney buys Pixar
2010: Disney buys Marvel
2012: Disney buys Lucasfilm
2019: Disney buys 21st Century Fox
2032: Disney buys the UK after Brexit a deal with the EU is completed."
Is this the ultimate marriage between two of the best cinema outlets in history, or a scary symptom of the rising power of 21st century capitalist corporations?