Few can argue the biggest entertainment news this year is Disney’s pursuit of 21th Century FOX properties.
The deal would give Disney control of the movie and tv assets including National Geographic and a controlling stake in Hulu and and the Sky network. The proposed acquisition will fortify Disney’s cultural foothold in film, television, and bolster it’s troubled sports assets. However, Disney isn’t seeking this as another feather in it’s Mickey Mouse ears; Disney really needs this going forward reaching bigger audiences (and their wallets) and Fox needs this based on its diminishing market value going forward.
A major division that’ll benefit from this proposal is Marvel Studios. The billion dollar blockbuster machine getting XMen and Fantastic Four back would be a major coup and could/should impact the current slate of Infinity Wars films currently in production. In case you didn’t know (unlike DC Comics) Marvel doesn’t actually own many of it’s big time characters. FOX currently has the rights to Fantastic Four and X-Men. This is the result of time before superhero hysteria and carefully crafted event level films. In the late 90s when superhero movies were largely unwatchable and nobody cared about these characters; Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy. In order to keep the dream of the truest believer alive Stan Lee, who is undoubtedly a hero in the comic world, was forced to sell off a number of Marvel’s heavy hitters to keep Marvel from going under: Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic 4, XMen, ect… While these deals did keep the company afloat the contracts for these deals were terrible. With rights rolling over as long as a film was made before a set number of years . The worst example of this is Fantastic Four who originally sold to a German company called Constantine who in a wackadoo attempt keep the license made a Fantastic Four movie so bad Marvel was forced to pay like $6millon to keep it out of theaters. Fox later acquired F4 and didn’t do much better with it’s theater offerings. Disney will undoubtedly right these wrongs and if the deal goes through soon don’t be surprised if X-Men and Fantastic Four characters end up in the current slate of Infinity Wars movies.
Another major reason Disney needs Fox is their grip on the regional sports as produced through FS1. ESPN (a Disney property) is in a transitional period as viewership has been steadily declining based on its lack of access to live sports FS1 has locked down. Viewers are ditching ESPN’s auxiliary programing in droves in favor of Internet updates that are pretty much in real-time now and as a result ESPN is in desperate need of a boost in live sports coverage and this deal will provide a much needed.
Disney is also in the development stages of a Netflix style streaming service for both Disney film & TV properties and ESPN. Set for launch in 2018 these avenues for viewing are a veritable buffet of content and with as much content Disney has in its vaults the streaming Internet beast’s hunger for content live, original, or classic is insatiable. This Fox deal will certainly provide the entertainment necessary and in turn help Disney corner the market the market in the streaming game with Hulu and it’s own service. The live sports, tv and film classics, and the original content that can be developed with FOX ip’s would make these services a force in the streaming game.
This seems like an amazing deal for all involved and I’m excited and very much hope it goes through. That said, there are a few concerns. Namely how will the house of mouse treat the stellar rated R offerings in the X-Men franchise. Deadpool and Logan (still my top movie for 2017) were undoubtedly smash hits yet are a radical departure from the Marvel Studios offerings? Will the Indians and Cavs be on the ESPN streaming service? What Fox franchises will get the Disney treatment first? Keep tracking this story, this affects the whole damn planet!