Disney flexes its muscles with talks of Fox acquisition


Chris Harrison, Flickr

Tyler Newman, Staff Writer

The Walt Disney Company, one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, was reported to have held talks to buy 21st Century Fox on Monday.

First reported by CNBC, a deal between the two media giants could prove to be a formidable shift in power in the entertainment and television industry in America.

Following the reported news, Twitter exploded in various opinions and insight into the possible merger. Some were excited, others skeptical at the idea of Disney purchasing another company.

Disney has previously acquired Pixar Animation Studios in 2006, Marvel Entertainment in 2009 and Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012. In addition to those three, the company also owns ABC Television Networks, including A&E and ESPN Inc.

Reuters reported that Disney could possibly be aiming to acquire Fox’s assets to compete with the streaming service Netflix.

This deal could display Disney’s resolve against the growing influence of Netflix, Apple and Amazon in the streaming industry. Disney is set to release their own streaming service in 2019, with four series in the works, based on “Star Wars,” Marvel, “Monster’s Inc.” and “High School Musical.”

The company announced earlier this year that all Disney films, including Marvel and “Star Wars” films, would be removed from Netflix in 2019.

However, obtaining Fox’s assets could also play a massive role in Disney’s film studio divisions.

Since 2012’s release of “The Avengers,” Disney has been distributing Marvel Studios’ films as a part of the latter’s film franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some analysts in the film industry speculate that with an acquisition of Fox’s film studio assets, Marvel Studios could amp up their franchise with the addition of more comic book characters.

Currently, the rights to many of Marvel’s most beloved characters, including the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, belong to Fox for use in media and distribution. The Wall Street Journal stated that with a merger, these characters could join Marvel’s existing franchise, forming a much larger universe and possibly bringing in larger box office revenues for the company.

Other assets of Fox that would fall under Disney’s influence if a merger is successful include the FX Channel, NatGeo Channel and Sky Television – Europe’s biggest media company – in addition to Fox’s film studio.

Film assets that would also become Disney’s include “Avatar,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Alien,” “Die Hard,” “Predator,” “Home Alone,” “Ice Age” and the distribution rights to the original six “Star Wars” films.

However, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that the talks between the two studios are now “inactive.”

Early reports claimed that Fox was not confident in competing in an increasingly crowded media landscape that includes Google, Amazon, Netflix and Facebook.

Following all of the reports, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox, Lachlan Murdoch, stated that Fox is “equipped to stay the course in a changing media landscape.” Neither Murdoch nor his brother James, who is the Chief Executive of 21st Century Fox, commented on the possible merger with Disney.

Fox’s shares soared following the talks with Disney, and the current share price according to Nasdaq (as of the closing bell Nov. 9) is $28.725 for Class A, and $28.13 for Class B.

Some fear that the proposed deal between the two companies would cause a problem for the entertainment industry, as Disney would be one step closer to a monopoly.

The subject has become polarizing throughout the business and entertainment world seemingly overnight. However, no such deal has come to pass as of yet.

Assistant Editor’s Update: Disney announced on Dec. 14, 2017 of its intent to acquire 20th Century Fox for $52.4 billion in stock. The agreement is expected to close in late 2018 or early to mid 2019.