It is finally official. The Walt Disney Company will buy 21st Century Fox’s media assets, including 20th Century Fox, for over $65 billion in various stock and debt assumption schemes.
According to Deadline, Disney gets Fox’s prolific film and television studios — though the physical Fox lot and the Fox broadcasting network will stay in 21st Century Fox’s possession — the FX and National Geographic cable networks, Fox’s regional sports networks, a piece of Sky, a UK satellite television, and other international cable networks. But what continues to be key in the big picture is Fox’s expansive film and TV library, which includes assets like The Simpsons, Avatar, the Alien Franchise, the X-Men library of characters and the original 1977 Star Wars.
Fox, meanwhile, gets a 25% stake in Disney.
Disney CEO Bob Iger told Good Morning America that the deal will allow the company to have a “much larger international footprint.” This also seems to be key to the big picture, as is Disney’s intention to build a powerhouse brand with their upcoming streaming service, expected to debut in 2019. Unless, of course, Disney new stake in streaming platform Hulu is also part of the big picture. Having an established brand, proven technology and a built-in subscriber base could be a boon in Disney’s plan to rival Netflix. Provided, of course, the other Hulu partner are comfortable with Disney in the driver’s seat.
And for those of us primarily concerned with genre entertainment, the deal means the X-Men come home to Marvel. Deadline also lists the Fantastic Four as a returning property, but as Slashfilm noted recently, the sorted web of media rights in regards to Marvel’s top properties may reveal another player, Constantine Films, as controlling Marvel Comics’ first family. Meanwhile, Disney’s complete ownership of Star Wars could lead to something fans have been clamoring for since Disney first bought Lucasfilm — a high definition release of the original Star Wars trilogy in its original form.
While the plan is now official, there is still a 12-to-18 month period in which the merger must be approved by various regulatory bodies. But if the company overcomes all potential hurdles, Disney will be the dominant force in media. A strange, compelling, and even frightening thought as the Disney way invades more and more of the culture.