The Walt Disney Company, which already either made or bought most of our childhood memories, apparently wasn’t content. The mammoth Mouse House has now purchased a huge chunk of 21st Century Fox for a mere $52.4 billion. Probably found it at a garage sale or something.
The deal hasn’t been officially inked: It’s still subject to the approval of antitrust regulators. But if it does go through, as expected, what, exactly, does this mean for us?
Well, in some respects, it kinda looks like they’re consolidating stuff they already own.
We all know that Disney bought Lucasfilm back in 2012 for about $4.1 billion, including the rights to make new Star Wars movies. Even before that, the Star Wars universe had a pretty prominent presence at its amusement parks: (I spill this secret in confidence, but I was once the “rebel spy” on a Star Tours ride.) Now, Disney owns the rights to the original Star Wars—Episode IV: A New Hope to you whippersnappers out there. (Fox also owns the rights to Episodes I, II, III, V and VI, too, but those were already prepping to be transferred to Disney in 2020.)
What could this mean for that galaxy far, far away? Well, maybe a massive “Star Wars trilogy-of-trilogies” Blu-ray box set one day, assuming we’re still watching Blu-rays then and not downloading the films straight into our brains. Also, as one Star Wars-addled peer of mine pined, there’s the possibility that we could soon hear the iconic 20th Century Fox fanfare in front of future Star Wars movies—a callback to the franchise’s olden, golden days.
Disney also bought Marvel back in 2009 for $4 billion, just when Marvel’s cinematic universe was supercharging. But by then, Marvel had already sold lots of its most popular assets to other licensees—including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Deadpool (technically an X-Man, apparently) to 20th Century Fox. The deal theoretically brings all those characters under the Disney/Marvel fold again, opening the door for a seriously packed Avengers-like movie in the future.
But don’t get your hopes up for a movie anytime soon. Fox already has a few X-Men films in the pipeline, so an Avengers/X-Men/Fantastic Four mash-up won’t likely happen until Robert Downey Jr. is about 85.
And while Disney was already building theme parks based on James Cameron’s movie Avatar, it now owns the rights to the theoretically lucrative property outright—including the rumored 237 Avatar movies Cameron has mapped out.
What’s not included? Most of 21st Century Fox’s television stuff, including the Fox broadcast network, Fox News, and the Fox sports channels. Mickey won’t be co-hosting Fox and Friends anytime soon.
What does this mean for families? That’s anyone’s guess, I suppose. It’ll be interesting to see how Disney melds (if it does) its new, edgier, sometimes R-rated superheroes like Deadpool with its more family-friendly stable of superheroes. Will Deadpool watch his language? Or will Captain America start using the F-word?
And I can’t help but wonder whether Disney might be subject to future, existential lawsuits—guilty of monopolizing all our childhood memories.
Whatever the upshot of it all, we’ll watch what happens together. And Plugged In will report it all the way.