Priscilla Obilana examines the entertainment behemoth that is Disney and how all may not be as cheerful as it seems.
In December of 2017, Disney announced its biggest takeover yet, the acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The deal was overseen by Bob Iger, current CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and cost $52.4 billion, giving Disney ownership of Fox’s film and TV production houses, including FX, National Geographic, and Fox’s regional sports networks, but not FOX News, or Fox’s shares in Sky TV. This follows previous acquisitions of Pixar in 2006, Marvel Entertainment in 2009, and Lucasfilm in 2012 which gave Disney the rights to the Star Wars franchise.
With Disney and Iger’s renown for successful takeovers, ones with profitable outcomes, it seems that not only does Disney have no intention of slowing down, but also plans to keep upping the ante. The news has been mostly well received by fans, as the takeover means that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have access to Marvel characters formally owned by Fox such as X-men characters like Wolverine, Deadpool, and many others. All of which can now join the Marvel Cinematic Universe and exist in the same world as the Avengers.
“Considering the magnitude of such a deal, the takeover is at the very least a year away from actually happening.”
However, considering the magnitude of such a deal, the takeover is at the very least a year away from actually happening. They now await regulatory approval. According to Iger, “the regulatory process has begun in numerous jurisdictions across the world.” Due to this regulatory process, however, other companies can bid on Fox assets, which has led to Comcast, reportedly, showing interest in outbidding Disney for Fox properties.
“How R-rated can a Disney product be?”
Although the announcement has been met with positive reactions from fans, many have also paused to consider the ramifications that such a takeover would produce, which are not all that encouraging. Firstly, like in any acquisition, many people in Fox’s film and TV production are liable to lose their jobs. Furthermore, the projects they are currently working on are in jeopardy, and the resources that have gone into them may have gone to waste. Built up franchises like the current X-Men series could be potentially rebooted. For properties like Deadpool, it could mean having to change the successful formulaic recipe that made the film so loved. Although Iger has said that Deadpool would be left alone to its creative process, how R-rated can a Disney product be?
“With their acquisition of Fox, it gives films of a smaller scale less opportunity to get a leg in to the big leagues.”
Despite Iger also saying that Fox would be to its own division under the Disney umbrella, it is still very much under the Disney name and so future films can only stray so far from Disney standards.
If this deal goes through, as it most likely will, it will mean Disney will hold a sizeable, almost worrisome monopoly on all things entertainment. Disney decided in the summer of 2017 to remove its properties from Netflix, to set up its own rival streaming site. Two problems arose from such a decision, and Disney quickly solved those issues by acquiring Hulu, to begin on a developed foundation rather than setting up a brand-new site. Then, of course, comes the point that Disney needs more property than it currently has to offer for streaming to compete with Netflix. Enter the Fox acquisition, allowing Disney to provide all Fox properties, TV shows and films on their streaming site, making them a worthy opponent to Netflix. Ultimately, this means that not only will Disney have a massive monopoly on traditional media, but also on the new and upcoming medium of streaming. Moreover, by including Fox’s regional sports network, Disney’s sports network ESPN, would then be able to broadcast college and high school games, making them more competitive.
More often the film industry is being overtaken by films of giant proportions, and with this takeover, this worrying trend may continue. A blockbuster is a much appreciated addition but it cannot be the only thing that’s on offer when people go to the cinema. Disney is in the business of making big movies, which is on par for them and ultimately incredibly profitable. However, with their acquisition of Fox, it gives films of a smaller scale less opportunity to get a leg in to the big leagues.
Disney produced five of the biggest global top ten films of 2017. It has been the most profitable film studio for years now, reportedly making almost 1 billion more than its closest competitor already. The future of film decidedly includes Disney, but now not only film, Disney’s domination has spread to sports, television, and streaming. All of which are markets that under one deal Disney has secured for themselves. The effects of such having to be examined by jurisdictions worldwide, it is undoubted that, the merger of two of the top five biggest film studios marks a monumental moment in entertainment history.