Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox's film and TV studios in a landmark deal worth over $52 billion. The arrangement covers the movie studio 20th Century Fox, the company’s TV production arm 20th Century Fox Television, Fox-owned cable networks (including FX and National Geographic), and the company’s stakes in international networks like Star TV and Sky (which Fox is planning to acquire full ownership of before the sale is completed).
Disney also will gain a majority control of Hulu in the deal, with Fox’s 30 percent stake giving Disney a controlling interest of 60 percent. Comcast and Time Warner will be reduced to minority stakeholders, with 30 percent and 10 percent stakes, respectively.
As reported earlier, Fox is looking to shed what it views as deadweight in its entertainment divisions in order to focus on the far more profitable news and sports sides of its business. As such, the company is keeping control of the Fox broadcast network, Fox Sports, and the Fox News and Fox Business brands.
As part of the deal, Disney CEO Bob Iger is extending his time as CEO of the Walt Disney Company through 2021, although no word has been announced as to who his successor may be when he does step down in four years. Iger was originally planning to leave in 2019before the deal went through.
The purchase was originally rumored back in early November, but talks were said to have fallen through. The Wall Street Journal reported that discussions were back on at the beginning of December. Comcast was at one point considered to be a contender for the rights as well.
Along with 21st Century Fox’s various production companies and distribution networks, Disney also is taking ownership of the company’s vast catalog of intellectual property. That means that comic book characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four are now back under the stewardship of Marvel Studios — a status quo that Disney notes in its press release as allowing the company to “create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories.” Or, in other words, it opens the door for characters like Wolverine or Deadpool to cross over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Fox acquisition also means that Disney finally controls the rights to the original Star Wars film (also known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which Fox has previously owned full distribution rights to in perpetuity, along with the home video distribution rights for Episodes II through IV (which were originally supposed to revert to Disney in 2020.)
It also means that Disney — which is looking to open its own streaming service in competition to Netflix — now has an even larger back catalog of shows and TV series that it could feasibly offer exclusively on its service. Other franchises that now belong to the House of Mouse include the Avatar series (which makes Disney’s Pandora theme park a whole lot more sensible), the Aliens movies, Ice Age, the rebooted Planet of the Apes, The Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, How I Met Your Mother, Futurama, Firefly, and The X-Files, to name just a few, all of which would be a massive boon for Disney’s upcoming service.