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December 14, 2017

Disney Buys Fox Movie and TV Entertainment Properties for $52 Billion in Stock



I think the actual Fox broadcast network (as opposed to its content-producing studios) will remain part of Fox, as there are rules against the same company owning two tv broadcasters in the same market. FoxNews will remain with Fox, too, as will FoxSports.

But that report says that Fox's other cable channels, FX, FXX, and NatGeo (which I didn't know Fox owned) will be going to Disney.

So Always Sunny will now be a Disney product. And Archer.

I had previously read that the Murdoch sons wanted some high-ranking positions in Disney, should the deal go through -- but I don't hear anything about that.

Will they just be major shareholders? And if so, does that trip additional anti-trust concerns? Fox and Disney might not formally own together both ABC TV and Fox TV, but if the Murdoch family owns all that stock in Disney plus the Fox broadcast TV business, is that an anti-trust concern? Will they have to sell of their shares to avoid anti-trust concerns?

I dunno.

Ed Morrissey talks about possible anti-trust action. Even though the deal is structured to avoid the red flags of a merger, this still reduces the Big Six of movie studios down to a Big Five. And one of the "Big Five" isn't big at all -- Paramount is often called the "minnow" of the Big Six (now five).

And will Paramount remain its own studio? They took a $500 million loss a year ago which they're still writing down. One can imagine Paramount wishing to merge with or be bought by some other studio.

What would the anti-trust concern be? Well, Disney is already imposing some tough conditions on exhibitors (theaters) -- for example, demanding that a Star Wars film has to be shown on a theater's biggest screen for at least four weeks. True, theaters don't have to take that deal, but that means they'd not be showing the biggest film in the country in a week in which most other studios do not release films (to stay out of the way of Star Wars).

Disney already has a lot of power here. Now that they'll be about half of the remaining Big Five (or Big Four and a Half), they can impose those kind of conditions more frequently for more of their franchises.

And franchises they will have. Disney already had Star Wars, the Disney kids' brand, Pixar stuff, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe; now they'll be adding the two parts of the comic book Marvel universe that Fox had, the Fantastic Four and the jewel of the crown, the X-Men franchise(s).

The rights to Spider-man are still owned by Sony/Columbia, though they've worked out a deal by which Marvel Studios produce Spider-man movies while giving a lot (or all) of the theatrical profits to Sony. But Sony could end that deal when it likes.*

And Universal actually owns The Hulk, but Universal routinely licenses that to Marvel Studios.

I suppose they could do their own Hulk movie, but... eh, they tried that (the Ang Lee ) film and it didn't make a lot of money. Even the Marvel licensed version didn't make a big amount of money.

Meanwhile, this gives Disney even more of a library for its own coming streaming service which will compete with Netflix. Now armed with all of Disney's library plus all of Fox's library, plus whatever films they license from other studios, they just might bump Netflix down to number two in this market.

On the other hand, I do think maybe Disney bought high, just as they did when they bought out LucasFilm. I think we're past peak Star Wars and peak Marvel. This stuff will continue to make money, but I have to imagine at some point the value of these properties will begin to decay. Just as the value of ESPN has decayed.

I think we're in an entertainment bubble. There's a feeding frenzy to buy content creation companies or invent them. But there is an upper limit to how much TV (including movies on TV) people are actually capable of watching.

Bob Iger, often rumored to be running as an unpologetic Social Justice Warrior presidential candidate in 2020, is said to have his hands too full to do that now, but is he? Half of this shit runs on autopilot (Kevin Feige needs little oversight) and he'll be able to claim, "I make great deals."

* Sony's also threatening -- I don't know how seriously to take this -- to make a series of movies with minor characters that they have the rights to through the Spider-man deal, which will not feature Spider-man (he being on loan to Marvel). So there's claims there'll be a Spider-man-free Venom movie, and a Spider-man-free Silver Sable and Black Cat team-up. I just don't believe the latter at all, and I barely believe the former.

PS, Marvel comics has for some time been imposing a strike against the X-Men and Fantastic Four, in a calculated bid to make those properties less valuable and hence more likely to be sold back to Marvel Studios for exploitation. The Fantastic Four's book got cancelled, and I hear that the X-Men stuff is all recycling old villains and old plots, because Marvel comics doesn't want to create any new characters or new ideas -- any new stuff they debuted in X-Men would go right to Fox, due to the rights deal Fox had for all stuff originating in X-Men comics.

Thus the thread of doing the Dark Phoenix storyline in the next X-Men film... again.

Guys, we get it. Enough of the Dark Phoenix.

So, on the comics side, for anyone who cares (and based on sales numbers -- no one cares), at least Marvel comics might re-start the Fantastic Four comic and do some X-Men stories that aren't just The Gang Recycles Their Trash.


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posted by Ace at 03:28 PM

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