According to CNBC, talks between 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company may lead to an announcement about the proposed merger of Disney and 20th Century Fox assets as early as next week.
As the cable channel first reported early in November, 21st Century Fox may divest most of its media holdings to Disney which would leave the parent company with its news and national sports divisions. At the time, talk of the merger — said to be an “on-again, off-again” thing for sometime — sent the stocks of 21st Century Fox soaring. In this morning’s report, the talks are said to have continued in the wake of the earlier report and that they are “deeper and further along” than Fox’s discussions with CNBC parent company Comcast, who emerged as another suitor for the assets last month.
Curiously, CNBC’s David Faber noted Disney will also buy Fox’s stake in streaming platform Hulu as part of the deal. The company has been planing its own streaming service as a rival to Netflix for sometime. In fact, some analysts saw Disney’s interest in Fox as part of plan to dramatically increase content offerings on that platform, expected to debut in 2019. Should Disney buy the Fox holdings, it is unclear if they will divest themselves of Hulu or, perhaps, attempt to buy it outright; giving their platform an established name and subscriber base.
I’m sure those of us already grimacing about another subscription fee would love to see the two platforms become one.
Meanwhile, Marvel fans continue to hold their breath as the merger means the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters will finally come home to Marvel Studios and the Marvel television division. An event many, including former Wolverine Hugh Jackman, would love to see happen.
Although, it is interesting to note that 20th Century Fox and Fox Television have accelerated the use of X-Men characters with two television series, Legion and The Gifted, on the air and four feature films — The New Mutants, Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and Gambit — on the slate. In comparison, Disney took an apathetic stance toward its own big budget franchise-starter John Carter when it became clear that the company would soon own the most important film franchise by buying Lucasfilm back in 2012. Disney’s purchase of Fox may halt further installments of the film and television series. It may even stop the proposed Multiple Man film staring James Franco as Marvel decides how to reintegrate the X-Men into their cinematic universe.
Also, as a film buff, it will be sad to see the once great studio swallowed up and lost in the same way MGM disappeared in the early 1980s. Disney may continue to brand features with the Fox logo or restore the Fox fanfare to Star Wars movies, but a key part of Hollywood History will exist only in pixels and paper. It also means one less competitor in the field, which is never a good thing in the long run.
Nevertheless, it appears the landscape of Hollywood will soon change as dramatically as a comic book crisis.