When it was announced that The Walt Disney Co. agreed to acquire huge chunks parts of 21st Century Fox in an all-stock deal worth $52.4 billion, or approximately $66.1 billion when including debt, it drummed up a lot of excitement, and a lot of concern. The deal has Disney buying Fox’s film and TV studio; the National Geographic and FX cable channels business; regional sports networks; international networks, including Star India; Fox’s 30 percent stake in Hulu; and its 39 percent stake in European pay TV giant Sky.
While this will likely have little negative impact immediately, it does raise concerns for some in the industry, including “Gladiator” and “The Great Gatsby” producer Doug Wick:
“There’s always anxiety about the possibility of one less buyer.”
One nameless producer had this to say:
“It feels like there will be one less chance of a place to discover some movie magic that isn’t built by formula. The fear is just that it’s going to become more cookie cutter.”
Another concern is that with a Disney owned Fox, less “adult” themed films will be produced, instead concentrating more on the more family friendly fair that Disney historically produces. Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed this, citing one of Fox’s most successful R rated films, Deadpool, which will likely now join the MCU
“It [Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”
With large studio deals with directors and producers slowly becoming a thing of the past, and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu (the latter of which is now partial owned by Disney) continuously gaining power, this could be the early stages of a complete shift in the dynamics of the film and television industry. Bob Iger, who will remain as Disney CEO through at least 2021, addressed Fox employees who may be concerned about the future of their job, citing that this s not Disney’s first trip to the acquisition rodeo:
“As we’ve demonstrated in our acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, we have not only respected the culture of those organizations but respected and appreciated the talent that came with those acquisitions.”
And what about the MCU? Disney has already promised the mother of all Marvel crossovers, allowing the Avengers, Spider-man, the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four to finally share the screen together, “with the Marvel family under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love.” However, as we’ve seen in the past (looking at you, X-Men: Apocalypse), more isn’t always better. It is assumed that after Marvel’s Phase three of films, which includes the still un-named Avengers 4, there will be a bit of a reset, and possibly recasting. If they’ve learned their lessons, they will concentrate on smaller team ups, like the original X-Men or Avengers films, or more recently, Thor: Ragnorak, which demonstrated that character dynamics and interaction are better than a George Perez splash page.