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Disney And 21st Century Fox Are Close To Merging In $60 Billion Deal

The Walt Disney Company is nearing a deal to acquire the entertainment holdings of 21st Century Fox, according to a report this morning on CNBC. The deal could be closed as early as next week.

News of the negotiations were first made public in early November. If the deal were to happen, it would represent one of the biggest entertainment media consolidations in recent memory, reducing the number of major entertainment producers in the United States from five companies to four.

Disney is looking to purchase only Fox’s entertainment assets, not its news or sports assets. This would have major implications for the animation industry, potentially giving ownership of Blue Sky Studios and tv shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy to Disney. We earlier ran down some of the film and tv production/distribution assets that Disney is looking to acquire:

The purchase would allow Disney to significantly expand its film and television production capabilities, while also growing its content library of films and franchises (Hidden Figures, Avatar, The Revenant, Night at the Museum), which could play a key role as Disney readies to launch its own streaming service to compete against Netflix and Amazon.

Disney, which owns ABC network, would not buy the Fox broadcast network due to an FCC regulation that prevents common ownership of any of the four major broadcasters. It also wouldn’t buy Fox News, Fox Business, Fox’s sports channels, or Fox’s television stations.

But, in addition to the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight film studios (both owned by 21st Century Fox), Disney could potentially add the following to its assets: FX and National Geographic-branded networks; feature animation producer Blue Sky Studios; reality show production company Endemol Shine Group; and international broadcasters like Asia’s Star TV (which has 58 channels in India alone) and pan-European broadcaster Sky (in which Fox owns a 39% share). Presumably, Fox TV Animation, which producers The Simpsons and Family Guy, would also be a part of the deal.

According to CNBC, the value of Fox’s assets that Disney wants is seen as above $60 billion.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has made acquisitions a major part of the company’s growth strategy, adding Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel to the company’s portfolio of brands. Fox would easily be Disney’s biggest acquisition under Iger, and from a business standpoint, could help jumpstart Disney’s stock, which has stagnated for the last three years over fears of ESPN’s decline and the lack of a clear over-the-top distribution strategy.

  • BlueMaxwell

    Oh no…

  • Slim Cognito

    I have a feeling they’re gonna shutter Blue Sky. Also, weird to think they’ll own The Simpsons and Family Guy…..

    • KillerMTou

      Or sell Blue Sky to Universal.
      Blue Sky had their peak when Meledandri was in charge. Even if Blue Sky’s earliest attempts were no better either, but they got a really big marketing push which put Blue Sky in the (almost) same standards of Dreamworks and Pixar of commercial success at the time. Before the Minions, there was Scrat.

      EDIT:
      I have no idea Disney would do with Blue Sky otherwise. Maybe if Disney will using Blue Sky as a ”traineeprogram” for younger animators/artists before advancing to Pixar or Disney Animation. Like how the Eisner-crew did with DisneyToon Studios in the 90s-00s, but that would be disrespectful to such of a large and potentially diverse Animation Studio like Blue Sky.

      • Rob

        Blue Sky is already a proxy-training house for Pixar, based on the numbers of artists and animators that put in their time at BS before heading to Pixar. I don’t see that changing.

        We’ll have a better idea of Disney’s plans for BS if they plant one of their own as head of animation there, the way Lasseter oversaw a Disney revival after they purchased Pixar. If they drop a Mouse or Pixar veteran at BS to spearhead new content, I’ll say they intend to keep the studio alive and hopefully see better success than before.

        But if they leave BS to itself, it might mean they don’t intend to keep it (i.e.- sell BS to Universal or something). It would be a real dangerous move to just shut the studio down, though. I know BS isn’t the biggest money maker, but it would be short sighted of Disney to see no possibility there. I’m sure they’re quite excited to have another animated film in the annual schedule through Blue Sky.

        All I know is Disney doesn’t spend billions on anything without getting their hands ALL OVER IT. Just look at Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Star Wars… if Disney owns Blue Sky, they will make their presence known on the studio’s future slate of films.

        Now what they’ll do with Family Guy or Simpsons… I really hope they just leave them alone and publicly pretend they don’t own the properties. Even as a Family Guy fan, I really don’t want to see Peter Griffin merch at Disney World.

      • bob

        many of the people at blue sky have already worked at disney and pixar etc… so that’d be a bit silly. The quality of stories never really reached any heights at Blue Sky, but much of that was due to Fox’s involvement… who knows what will happen, but one thing is for sure: Disney is cut throat when it comes to business.

      • SnicksterFace

        Universal already has a deal with Illumination that seems to be working well for both parties…

      • HN

        If Disney were to sell Blue Sky, I think it won’t be to Universal. Universal already has Illumination and DreamWorks. Disney might not want to give Universal another animation studio. I think they’ll keep Blue Sky. Ice Age and Rio franchises are profitable. They might want to consider making sequels. Imagine if Disney appoints someone like Lee Unkrich or Andrew Stanton as head of Blue Sky. That will be fantastic.

  • Ryan Cullen

    Something tells me the Marvel Film branch of Disney is extremely happy about this…And that they wish it had happened before Hugh Jackman stepped away from playing Wolverine.

    • Anonymous

      Plus they will get the Avatar releases that already tie in with their theme parks.

  • I am not sure how this is a good thing for animation.

    • KW

      Its not

  • Nikh

    Disney: the monster that ate Boba Fett *coughs* I mean, that other company…

  • Patrick Diaz

    I wonder what’ll happen to the Touchstone Pictures brand once Disney and Fox merge…

  • GW

    It looks like I’ll have to boycott even more properties. Before I know it I’ll have to avoid more than half of the media industry thanks to the No Face corporation. I hope the situation for indie animation is brighter in the coming years now that Blue Sky is owned by Disney.

  • Andres Molina

    On the plus side, we may get to hear the Fox Fanfare return to Star Wars.

  • Jay Sabicer

    I would suspect that the merged Disney/Fox would either liquidate Blue Sky or sell it (and their yet-to-be-released films) to another studio. You gotta figure Ice Age and Rio have run their course, and the Peanuts film wasn’t such a big draw for a sequel.
    I also foresee that Seth McFarlane’s animated shows and the Simpsons would finish production quickly and close shop, as a cost-cutting measure.
    And if Disney feels ESPN has become an albatross around their corporate neck, they could sell it to News Corp; expanding their sports channels and shrinking the number of competitors (for major league games) by 1.
    This is probably Bob Iger’s final legacy for the mouse: acquire needed media and start their own streaming empire, as well as a boatload of new channels overseas.

  • soupcrusher

    As of this morning the deal does in fact include the regional sports networks. If you thought the layoffs at ESPN were rough wait until they close down 20+ networks across the country.

  • Marc Hendry

    I can’t pretend to know anything about how these enormous businesses run, but my concern is that it’ll lead to more homogeneous content in the actual films, and maybe we’ll see more problems like the wage-fixing thing if all the studios are part of one company

  • My name is Rio

    R.I.P. The Simpons, Family Guy and Blue Sky!

    A sad day for the whole enterteinment industry is upon us, as Disney is way too kosher to be either edgy or funny, else put the new Star Wars under a magniying glass and realize how crappy it really is.

    Well, time to move on to Netflix (or Comcast, pick your poision!) and forget everything else.

    • Brian Martin

      “put the new Star Wars under a magniying glass and realize how crappy it really is.”
      Are you saying that people are wrong for liking The Force Awakens and Rogue One?

      • tazzman

        Yes that is what he is saying and he is very wrong. He is wrong for saying others are wrong.

    • SnicksterFace

      Ha. Simpsons is never going to die.

      And Disney would be stupid to let anything happen to it.

      Honestly, I don’t think any of it will die, but without brand competition, Blue Sky may end up just suffering in some way. My guess is that Disney would end up owning all the rights to all of Blue Sky’s franchises, like Ice Age. And then they would sell Blue Sky to anyone who wants it, like Paramount… or maybe even WB (unless they buy Animal Logic).

  • Dante Panora

    Huge corporations like Disney have little choice but to keep growing their business exponentially regardless of how much money they rake in. Warner Bros. is in big trouble now cause after the huge success of the Harry Potter and Dark Knight franchises nothing since has every really been as consistently money-producing. I imagine that’s why Disney wants to purchase even more properties with established fanbases.

    I think if this deal does go through the limit for Disney saturation will be reached. I mean, what could the possibly need to do with ANOTHER huge CGI animation studio like Blue Sky under their command?

  • Matt Norcross

    Here’s what I think will happen. If Disney indeed buys 20th Century Fox, they’ll shed the Disney moniker from their corporate name (although it will still be used for animated features, theme parks, and consumer products) and change their name to something generic. Also, any live-action Disney remake will probably use the Fox banner.

  • BurntToShreds

    If this merger goes through, Disney would own
    -Star Wars
    -All of Marvel Comics
    -Family Guy, King Of The Hill, but most importantly The Simpsons
    -Alien/Aliens
    -and more that I’m probably forgetting.

    I don’t care how good or bad Disney handles the properties that they acquire, I don’t like the idea of just one company owning the rights to an ever-growing roster of popular media which includes several massive pillars of pop culture. The deal they’ve set up with 21st Century Fox may be legal under anti-trust law, but it feels bad in my gut. It’s a shame that so many people are all for this merger simply because the MCU would get access to the X-Men and Deadpool.

    • HN

      Don’t forget the distribution rights to the biggest movie ever- Avatar.

      • tazzman

        Wow. Forgot about that. Disney already has the Pandora land at its parks too.

    • Mary

      Access to Deadpool and X-Men is pretty much the only reason why this deal got as much attention as it has.

    • Andrew

      And considering how diluted the Disney brand has gotten (so…franchises that existed outside of Disney for DECADES are now Disney just by ownership?), it is going to get downright confusing. With far too many properties that outright contradict Disney’s family-based market and all the corporate re-structuring to follow, just what is Disney anymore?

      • You realise Disney has produced adult-aimed media for years under other labels right? I doubt we’re getting an Alien film under their banner anytime soon.

  • Charles M.

    Why does it feel like my stomach wants to churn inside out after hearing this?

  • Mary

    Quite a few MCU fans are hoping this merger happens. Some of the same fans will blow their heads when Deadpool and X-men get toned down, should the deal go through.

  • HN

    Anastasia is often being mistaken as a Disney princess. If this deal pushes through, she will now become a real Disney princess.

    • Corinne Siobahn Bastarache

      Will she be “paired” with Tiana in promotions? Both princesses are early 20th century characters, and also have similar arch-enemies.

  • Lewis

    I wonder what this means for that Locksmith Animation deal?

  • Emilio Aguinaldo

    so if Disney falls the world falls

  • Héctor Calles

    A Simpson’s themed attraction and merchandise in Disney parks? Strange times indeed, but it’s possible

  • Robert Holmén

    The average civilian thinks all animated movies are “Disney” so they might as well just go ahead and make it so.

    • Kabelo Maaka

      What a golden comment. 😂😂😂

  • Cameron Iacono

    How much Money does Disney Freaking NEED!?

    • tazzman

      Well, this is what happens when you are a public corporation that serves at the behest of shareholders who invest to see GROWTH.

  • Doconnor

    My guess is that Fox TV Animation will stay with the Fox TV Network and not be included in the deal.

    • HN

      It will be included in the deal.

  • Shane Macbain

    Guys chill. I’m pretty sure having a few big American corporations own essentially all media, is totally gonna work out fine.

  • KW

    I wish there was a way to stop this from happening. Disney is too big for anyones good, and it scares me what they’ll be like 10/15/20 years down the road.

  • I love Disney, I do. At the same time, I don’t want them to continue to be/own 80%+ of all entertainment. It’s like eating the same dessert for every meal. Variety is healthy for everyone. :/