Disney Agrees to Buy Fox Assets for $52 Billion

‘The Simpsons’ / Fox

On Thursday The Walt Disney Company agreed to a $52.4 billion deal to acquire a majority of 21st Century Fox, marking the end of an era for media baron Rupert Murdoch.

According to Bloomberg, the deal includes the movie and TV production house, 39 percent of Sky Plc., Star India, and various TV channels including FX and National Geographic. Through a spinoff, Murdoch will continue to run Fox News, the FS1 sports network and the Fox broadcast network. Disney CEO Bob Iger will remain in his role through 2021.

Shareholders of 21st Century Fox will receive 0.2745 Disney share for each of their Fox shares, which equates to around $30.54 based on Disney’s closing price. The deal will give Disney about $2 billion in cost savings and take 12 to 18 months to complete.

The deal is huge for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most exciting is the return of the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool rights to Marvel Studios. According to Alex Abad-Santos at Vox, “Fox’s inconsistent track record with superhero movies makes a move to Marvel look enticing.” However, his analysis points out distinct differences in cinematic strategy, which could mean changes for the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises.

“The flip side of that approach is borne out in Marvel’s cinematic strategy of having interlocking stories and heroes that come together for giant team-up movies like The Avengers,’ which made over $1.5 billion for the studio. However, that strategy can result in Marvel movies feeling like they’re more concerned with setting the table for future installments.

Fox’s X-Men aren’t locked into that system, nor does there seem to be an overarching narrative that the studio wants to accomplish with its X-Men movies the way Marvel wants to with its Avengers, leaving individual X-Men movies to establish their own distinctive approaches and personalities.

Yes, the freedom that Fox has given the X-Men has resulted in some clunkers, like 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine.’ But it’s also resulted in superhero films that take risks, delve into different genres, and play around with different modes of storytelling. The results haven’t been consistent, but breakout movies like Logan’ and Deadpool’ are what happens when those risks pay off — and it’d be a shame if Marvel regaining control of the X-Men on film means those risks will stop being taken.”

The mega-merger also means that Disney is the majority owner of Hulu. While Disney is still planning to launch their own standalone streaming service, Iger reassured investors yesterday that Hulu isn’t going anywhere.

“There’s a lot of Fox intellectual property that fits extremely well into Disney-branded direct-to-consumer services. There’s a lot of product that we believe will be of great use to growing Hulu as it already is. Hulu is a more adult-oriented product [that will benefit from] Fox television production and FX.”

Although, Edmund Lee at Recode believes the deal “means the end of Hulu as we know it — not that it’s going away. But it will look very different going forward.”

Analysts predict the acquisition will lead to further consolidation in the media industry, as the major players look to acquire more content. Although some, including Trump, believe the deal will spur job creation, Rich Greenfield, a BTIG analyst, expects most of the savings to come from layoffs. “There will be thousands of jobs lost. It is hard to see how any meaningful job creation will come out of this.”

The consolidation may partially be a response to streaming studios like Netflix and Amazon’s content production onslaught, which has already produced results at the Oscars. This means smaller studios like Lions Gate might be squarely in the cross hairs of the larger media companies.

Will Disney-Fox Set Off Scramble for Big Media Deals?

Bob Iger: The consumer will call the shots in entertainment

What’s going to happen to Hulu now that Disney basically owns it?

Disney Buys Fox Assets in $52 Billion Split of Murdoch Realm

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