Disney-FOX Merger Officially On; Star Wars, MCU To Be Made Whole Again
After fits and starts, Disney will buy the entertainment portions of 20th Century FOX, gaining Hulu leverage over Comcast, plus Star Wars & MCU pieces they were missing.
So remember the game Monopoly? And how one player would have two pieces of valuable real estate out of three, and would keep badgering the player with the smaller holding, but those single pieces of real estate to sell? Image if instead of just selling those two single, the player just gave up, left the game and let that player have all their stuff they didn’t want anymore?
That’s how you should picture the FOX-Disney merger that was announced this morning. Disney had the MCU, which they built from scratch. They had gotten back the Spider-Man card from Sony. But FOX held the X-Men and the Fantastic Four and wouldn’t budge.
Likewise, Disney has two of the three Lucasfilm cards. But the right to the original six films, Episodes IV-VI and I-III, were held by FOX. (Have you noticed the glaring lack of Star Wars Box Sets since the revival? This. Is. Why.)
Disney could have been patient for Star Wars. The rights to Episodes V & IV, plus Episodes I-III (aka Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith) all expired in 2020, and at that point would revert to Lucasfilm again. But, even after that, the original, Episode IV, A New Hope would never expire. In order to get that film made back in 1976, Lucas sold the rights to FOX in perpetuity. Disney would never be able to make that box set.
Today, Disney just announced it was getting all those cards back, X-Men, A New Hope, all of it. All it will cost is $54 billion.
That may *seem* like a lot. But remember, this is the same company that bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion and has already made back $3 billion of it back in the first five years, with The Last Jedi almost certain to me the film that crosses the line into profit.
As for some more details, via CNN:
In addition to 21st Century Fox’s movie studio and regional sports networks, Disney is buying cable channels FX and National Geographic. Disney will also get Fox’s stakes in Hulu and European pay-TV provider Sky.
That bit about Hulu is huge. Also the bit about Sky, which under FOX had an agreement to air all of Disney competitor HBO’s content in Europe, including Game of Thrones. Will Disney decide to nix that in favor of their own stuff?
But Hulu was originally started by Disney, Fox and Comcast as a way for ABC, FOX, and NBC to stream their content to viewer’s computers. Comcast wanted to be the one to buy out FOX because it wanted control of 2/3rds of the Hulu pie. Now Disney has them instead, giving it a leg up on Comcast. This is even more important going forward as Hulu builds itself into a powerhouse streaming original content source to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
Disney now owns 2/3rd of one of Netflix’s biggest competitors. Furthermore:
In addition to a majority stake in Hulu that it will have once the deal closes, Disney is preparing to launch two separate streaming services, one for sports and another focusing on entertainment. And it is pulling its content from Netflix in preparation for the launch. Adding Fox’s television and movie studios and the content they own means adding to the stable of must-watch content it can offer directly to consumers — and that streaming competitors can not.
Hulu will be crippled once it loses 2/3rd of their content, which is why it’s been madly rushing into original content. (Much of which doesn’t get nearly enough attention.) Disney will not only have “Disney Streaming” and “Sports Streaming” but on top of that will have majority stakes in “Major Netflix Alternative.” Now all they have to do is convince Comcast to sell them that other Monopoly card.
The deal will still need to undergo a review of course, and Trump might decide for whatever petty ass reasons to block it. (It won’t be because Monopoly is a bad game for large corporations to be playing like this.) But assuming no one stands in anyone’s way, it won’t close for a good year, leaving X-Men: Dark Phoenix to still be released under FOX and Deadpool 2 as well.
But come 2019, when Episode IX arrives? Just assume that the answer to what everyone wants for the holidays is the complete Star Wars Box Set. And all your assumptions about Phase IV after The Avengers Infinity Wars Or Whatever They’ll Call It? Out the window completely. Merry Christmas, and Happy third night of Hanukkah to you too.