In November, word got out that Disney was in talks to purchase everything but the news, sports, and the broadcast network part of 21st Century Fox. At the time of the leak, it was reported that talks were dead, but now sites like Variety, Bloomberg, and Deadline are saying we should hear back any day now about a successful negotiation.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been impatiently waiting for news. Every time I check Twitter I just know it’s going to be the top story. As a fanboy, I love stewing on the possibilities. Here’s how I think it will impact Hulu, Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney.
Disney Will Have TOO MANY Streaming Services. Everybody know that Disney is working on a streaming service. This on top of the ESPN streaming service we already knew they would make one day. Even though Disney has Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar, a lot people wonder if that’s enough content to justify an entire streaming service. Plus, I own all those movies anyhow.
Buying Fox and its huge library of TV and film content would be a big step towards fixing that. Here’s the weird accident: by purchasing Fox, Disney would acquire Fox’s stake in Hulu, which would bring Disney up to a 60% share in Hulu. But Disney doesn’t really care about Hulu. This is the Walt Disney Company, and the Walt Disney Company does not like to share.
Why would they put all that money into making Hulu great when they would just have to share the profits? That other 40% of Hulu? That’s owned by Comcast and Time Warner. Those are two companies that Disney has no interest whatsoever in helping out.
Disney is known to cancel entire projects just to stop competitors from getting any benefit. Back when Disney bought Marvel, they halted their comic book side from creating any new X-Men characters and they cancelled Fantastic Four entirely. They did this in order to cut off 20th Century Fox from getting any new material for use in the Marvel properties that Fox holds the rights to. And speaking of segue:
The Marvel Cinematic Universe Gets Bigger. Can you imagine what happens if Marvel gets these film rights back? Doctor Doom (master of science and magic) facing off against RDJ’s Tony Stark and Doctor Strange. Silver Surfer confronting Thanos in Infinity War. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man teaming up with a young, cocky Human Torch. Do you know who’s smarter than Tony Stark and Bruce Banner? Reed Richards. And all of that is even before you consider the X-Men, Magneto, the Phoenix Saga, or the Skrulls.
Kevin Feige and James Gunn have said that Phase Four of the MCU will be exploring the cosmic side. What better way to do that than with the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and the Shi’ar? Did you know that Cyclops, a mutant who channels concussive energy from another dimension through his eyeballs, has a dad named Corsair that leads the Starjammers? In the MCU that isn’t even close to ridiculous. At Fox, they only recently stopped dressing all the X-Men head-to-toe in black leather because they thought it was more realistic.
While Fox’s X-Men and Fantastic Four movies have become progressively darker, in the MCU these characters can be exactly what they are in the comic books. Let them breath. The X-Men living in a world where Wolverine’s costume is a punchline is just wrong. You know what else is just wrong?
People Who Think Anastasia Is A Disney Princess Will Suddenly Be Correct. This one just bugs me. I’ve never actually seen the Don Bluth animated film Anastasia, but it keeps getting brought up as in casual lists of Disney films.
I get the confusion. The movie is animated. It has songs. It even has a princess in it. Still, it’s missing that key ingredient that makes a Disney film a Disney film. Namely that IT WASN’T PRODUCED BY OR OWNED BY DISNEY. (Okay, Jon… cool down. You are the only person that cares).
Disney owning Fox definitely changes a key component of that argument. While I’ve learned to stop correcting people on this issue, I’ve had a very difficult time NOT secretly judging people who get this wrong. (It’s my problem not theirs). But now, they might stumble into being correct. Their accidental error and Disney’s unconsidered purchase cancels the other out. Two wrongs end up making a right. Still, there are benefits.
No More Ice Age Movies. Fox owns Blue Sky Studios, which makes the Ice Age films. I can’t imagine Disney needs a third animation studio on top of Walt Disney Animation and Pixar. There aren’t currently any Ice Age films scheduled to be released, but Disney purchasing Fox will help to make sure that any potential sixth Ice Age film or Scrat spin-off never sees the light of day.
Star Wars Can Get a Proper, Non-Special Edition, Remastered Boxed Set Release. If you’ve ever wondered why Disney and Lucasfilm don’t give Star Wars fans exactly what you want, it’s because they legally can’t. There are a lot of interesting quirks to the home media and theatrical releases of Star Wars movies right now.
Here’s the quick version. Despite Disney purchasing the entirety of Lucasfilm, Disney currently owns full rights to only two of nine* Star Wars films (those being Force Awakens and Rogue One). Outside of that that, Disney holds only the digital release rights to five of the other films (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the prequel trilogy). For those films, 20th Century Fox holds the physical home media and theatrical release rights, but only until May of 2020 when the rights revert back to Lucasfilm and Disney. Finally, 20th Century Fox holds full home media, theatrical, and digital release rights to the original Star Wars indefinitely.
*Nobody really cares that Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released theatrically, but Warner Bros. (of all people) was the distributor on that film, so who knows?
With Disney holding all the cards, Lucasfilm can finally finish that 3D theatrical re-release of the entire saga. Or, they could go right to the beginning and release the original theatrical cut of Star Wars. The one before Lucas even added “Episode IV” to the title crawl.
Do you hate that long dance number they added into Return of the Jedi? Gone. Can’t stand the CGI Jabba confronting Han Solo? Not there. Let me ask you: who shot first?
Disney would now have the power to release whatever they wanted to whatever format they wanted. My hope would simply be an HD re-release of the 1990s VHS “One Last Time” Remaster. Which release would you pick?
Finally, the greatest implication of Disney owning Fox:
The 20th Century Fox Fanfare Can Play in Front of All Star Wars Movies Again. This is where it belongs. Seriously, that fanfare fits so perfectly with the opening theme of Star Wars that it actually appears on the Star Wars soundtrack. I’m not even kidding. Go look at Track One. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they had John Williams compose a Lucasfilm fanfare that takes the place of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare in front of digital releases and Force Awakens… and it’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it musically. It works in context. It’s just not the same. If Disney owns Fox then, in the words of Lor San Tekka, “this will begin to make things right.”
Fox is such a massive company with so many assets that I had to stop myself from making this article any longer than it already is. I’m sure there are other items I’m not thinking of. What is the best/worst part of Disney owning Fox? Let me know in the comments.