We’re just ten days out from Star Wars: The Last Jedi mashing theaters, but the bigger story might be Disney’s potential purchase of 21st Century Fox’s TV and film assets, which will figuratively (if not literally) crush every other major entertainment-media conglomerate over the next decade. Too strong a thesis? Maybe not. Gathering the remarks from all across the Hollywood and corporate business spectrum, it’s clear that this deal could result in a seismic shift of power in Hollywood!
According to CBR, Disney will get a geek’s ransom in big-name properties with this transaction, which could be announced as early as next week. Consider that if this deal goes through, Disney will bring the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Deadpool back home to Marvel (I realize Deadpool is an X-Men, just invoking his name for added emphasis and coolness). Plus, Disney gets the a whole bunch of high-profile TV stuff, including Modern Family, FX Networks, National Geographic channel, and a much bigger stake in Hulu (60% by some estimates).
When you factor in Disney’s development of a stand-alone, branded streaming service, you can begin to see how this particular deal positions the House of Mouse to seriously dominate the entertainment landscape for decades to come… and maybe also inspire more mergers by the remaining major studios (Universal, Sony, Paramount, Warner Brothers).
After the Disney-Fox deal, which essentially removes Fox from the entertainment business, there will only be five major studios left standing. Meanwhile, Time Warner is embroiled in a conflict with the Justice Department over their deal with AT&T, Universal is reeling from the death of its Dark Universe, the Transformers/Fast Five are keeping Paramount afloat, and Sony needs Marvel to keep Spider-Man flying high. In other words, Disney is about kick everyone off the top of the hill, and there’s not a helluva lot anyone can do about it.
Bloomberg reports that Fox is keen to make this deal happen, so that they can focus on their core news and sports businesses, while avoiding regulatory issues and other financial whiplash due to incredibly high-risk blockbusters (sometimes you stumble into a Logan, but more often than not you produce flops like Assassin’s Creed or Alien: Covenant).
Disney, however, isn’t the only suitor for Fox’s entertainment assets. Comcast is also vying to obtain Fox’s properties and networks, as reported by CNBC. Sources indicate that Disney has the stronger position and is far ahead of Comcast’s offer — the Fox deal could cost more than $60 billion.
From a fan’s perspective, it’s amazing to consider what Marvel might do with all of its toys living in the same box (Avengers vs. X-Men was a huge crossover thing in comics not too long ago, and Dr. Doom represents the ultimate super-villain across the entirety of the Marvel universe). What fans don’t see (yet) is that Disney — if they seal the Fox deal — is dragging a whole lot of cool stuff into their sandbox, and consumers will eventually have less choice.
A decade from now we might be looking at only 4 major studios and only two or three streaming services. Basically, Disney’s power move will be met by countermoves from the other majors, which will in turn cause Disney to make a counter-countermove. It’s all very exciting, and yet worrying at the same time. The Hollywood landscape is changing and the pace of change is only accelerating.