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Disney In Talks To Acquire 21st Century Fox

In the United States, 90% of mainstream entertainment is controlled by just five companies and that number could soon shrink to four.

The Walt Disney Company has been holding talks with 21st Century Fox to acquire its entertainment holdings, CNBC reported today.

The two companies are not negotiating the deal at the moment, but had been doing so in the past few weeks and could restart talks again at a later date.

The goal of the sale for Fox would be to unload its entertainment assets, so it can focus exclusively on news and sports.

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 Simpson and Family Guy, would also be a part of the deal.

Incidentally, The Simpsons had already made the joke that Fox would one day be owned by Disney:

Screencap from "The Simpsons."

An acquisition of Fox wouldn’t be particularly surprising for the Disney Company under CEO Bob Iger, who took over in 2005 and has said he will step down in 2019. Iger’s key strategy in the last 13 years has been growth through acquisition, and Disney has already paid billions to acquire IP producers like Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. By adding the 20th Century Fox film studio to Disney’s holdings, Iger would create an unparalleled entertainment conglomerate – at least in terms of scale if nothing else.

  • Pedro Nakama

    You know, those Stars Wars movies just aren’t the same without the 20th Century Fox March at the beginning.

  • Lazer-Lion

    So if it goes through, Disney will own the Fox movies and not shows like Bob’s Burgers?

  • Jacky Par

    Ho My God…. Disney is already a powerhouse as it is. This would just take it over the top. This is the equivalent of seeing those spaceships cover entire cities in Independence Day. Massive shadows. The disney shadow is big over hollywood. Holy moly. If a deal goes through, Anastasia would finally become the Disney princess everyone always mistakenly assumed she was anyways. Haha!

  • skent

    Having seen some of what is planned for the Avatar series, I have little doubt that it is poised to be an absolutely colossal franchise. However there’s been a lot of online naysaying and general uncertainty, and 20th Century Fox may lack confidence in these prospects along with their current situation and immediate future. Disney recognize a cash cow when they see one. Fox will be negotiating in a moment of weakness, while Disney is in a position of strength.

  • Dante Panora

    I suppose in a few years Disney will rename themselves Buy N Large. I think I understand those live actions segments inculsion in the film a bit better.

  • Alex Hartsell

    Man! Simpsons are really good at predicting the future man! It is like The Simpsons and their creators are psychic.

  • Strong Enough

    so all those blue sky employees who dreamed about working for disney, you deed it!

    • skent

      I hope Disney can find a place for Blue Sky Studios if the deal goes ahead. There was a time when I had lot of faith in their potential, but the quality of their output hasn’t been as consistent as I would’ve liked. Disney have been quite ruthless at shutting some of their own divisions and studios over the years. They showed little interest in previous unwanted acquisitions such as various Lucasarts projects. Although Blue Sky do seem to have been financially reliable over the years, which is no small feat.

      Do Disney need 3 major CG feature animation studios? I say with all this surplus CG capacity it’s time for the Walt Disney Animation Studios to find a new way of making drawn animation relevant again. (Although, in recent years I felt they were doing better CG animation than any of them).

      • Alex Dudley

        Disney might have Blue Sky churn out more sequels to Ice Age since that’s their most lucrative franchise. Rio too, maybe.
        However, Blue Sky makes movies at a lower price than Pixar and WDAS, so maybe they’ll just let the studio continue to do its own thing. Another scenario would be to have WDAS and Pixar outsource their animation TO Blue Sky.

        Don’t forget, Fox just signed a deal with Locksmith Animation from the UK, meaning the Disney company would release animated movies from FOUR studios!

        • Andres Molina

          Trust me. Pixar is home to some of the the most technologically advanced CGI tools, I don’t think they need or would outsource their films to Blue Sky. But either way, I’m hoping Disney would give Blue Sky more freedom, because considering the mere fact that Fox is selling most of itself to Disney, it probably means or implies that Disney will be smarter than Fox when it comes to sequels.

    • PinataPower

      Since this merger is focused on procuring content and IP’s, I’m not sure this would be a good thing for Blue Sky. They might get re-sold or shut down.

  • Andres Molina

    For one, buying Fox can be both seen as a good and bad scenario. For starters, Disney can grow and expand into the ultimate entertainment hub. But again, buying Fox would mean Disney will have a massive monopoly in the entertainment industry. Its both scary and amazing at the time. I will say if the negotiations do come in place, then Bob Iger just might be the greatest negotiator of the last 20 years. First bought Pixar, then Marvel, then LucasFilm, and now Disney is going to buy a massive entertainment company, filled of multiple studios. This could be good or bad, but I for one will be the optimist, and say that if Fox gets bought by Disney, then I will be happy. There will probably be people who won’t be happy, who might see is as Disney swallowing everything, and in some cases they do, but at one point this should be nothing but stellar news for the mouse.

    Buying Fox could help diversifying and expand Disney even further, including the following benefits:
    – Disney will own all Fox-owned films/TV and franchises including The Simpsons, Avatar, Planet of The Apes, Alien, Ice Age, Kingsman, etc.
    – Film and TV rights to all Fox-owned Marvel properties, including X-Men, Deadpool & Fantastic Four will return back to Marvel Studios and could be included to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    – Disney will now own 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, practically adding 2 new animation studios into Disney’s wing.
    – Disney will own other additional Fox-related film and TV divisions.
    (Minor Benefit for some, The Fox opening fanfare could return to Star Wars)

    These are just a few benefits Disney could receive if Fox does get bought. But DAMN!! Who thought The Simpsons could make such accurate predictions. I know some aren’t sure or happy that Disney could expand and pretty much take everything over, but this mere negotiation pretty much shows which company walks with confidence and which doesn’t. Again this is only my opinion, and in my opinion, I’m all up for seeing Disney buy Fox. At this point, I’m just going to accept the possibility and see the best of this scenario. So if Disney does buy Fox, all I will say is… BRING ON the XMEN/AVENGERS and DEADPOOL/SPIDERMAN CROSSOVERS!!!

  • Alex Dudley

    The library of content they’ll acquire is impressive, but how are they going to fit the FX networks into this? A lot of corporate restructuring and rebranding will be involved, but Disney has been known to leave things that are working fine alone. But all those foreign channels….they’ll become serious powerhouses on a global scale, more so than before!
    Wow….Disney owning the Simpsons and Family Guy. Will they still be allowed to call Walt an anti-semite?

  • The Simpsons Prophecy

    You know, The Simpsons is a prophetic show. They predicted President Trump, Bronies, and now, Disney owning 21st Century Fox. Wow. Just wow. :P

  • CountvonCount

    What the heck, how does Simpsons predict EVERYTHING?!?

    • skent

      same way as Alex Jones… You’re around long enough, you put out enough crazy stuff, sooner or later some of it might actually happen.

  • Valjean

    Am I the only one who is a little sad at this news? I know they’ve already strayed so far from the house that Walt built, but their name of Fox’s entertainment properties just takes even further. I know it’s considered blasphemy to say this, but I miss Michael Eisner.

    • Inkan1969

      Why? It was under Eisner that Disney acquired ABC. I don’t know if he was still there when Disney acquired Pixar and the Muppets. Still, this seems more of the same policy.

      • Valjean

        True, but that was fated to happen eventually; remember that ABC funded much of Disneyland’s construction in exchange for Walt’s “Wonderful World of Disney” program. Also, ABC still had a reputation as a (mostly) family-friendly network at the time that Einser acquired it, while FOX most definitely does not.

        • Inkan1969

          I don’t know. That construction was in the 50’s, and the TV series then went on to spend over two decades on the other networks. I didn’t know about the family-friendly reputation. I remember ABC as being the home of “Three’s Company” and “Soap” back then.

          • Valjean

            Huh? Disney announced they were acquiring ABC in 1995. Three’s Company and Soap had been long off the air by then.

            While I say they had a family friendly reputation in the 90’s, there’s no denying that they had one or two adult-oriented primetime shows such as NYPD Blue. But they also had a well-known family sitcom block called TGIF that was home to Family Matters and Full House, two of the networks biggest hits. I’ll admit I had forgotten that Wonderful World of Disney was on CBS for most of the 90’s, but I still seem to remember ABC having more of a family image than some of the other networks. A lot of families watched Ellen, too, even after the controversial (at the time) coming out episode.

    • Doconnor

      Walt Disney was a pioneer in adding new forms of entertainment to an existing company and cross promoting them, like the Theme Parks and the TV series to promote them. (To this day, CBC still shows a Disney movie every Sunday.)

  • ランダム アニメーター

    If Disney manages to make the deal, they’d be able to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise and incorporate it into their MCU, along with the X-Men/Deadpool franchises, which would be awesome.

    • KW

      No it wouldnt. That MCU is already tired and on the verge of collapse. Audience fatigue is a thing and honestly I can only hope their super hero movies fail because im getting sick of them.

      • Inkan1969

        I don’t think a franchise with a $122M opening weekend is on the verge of collapse.

        • KW

          Its a bubble thats going to pop sooner or later. Same goes for Star Wars. I guarantee you Disney is going to run that series into the ground. They didnt spend billions of dollars on these franchises to make a few good movies. No they’re going to squeeze every last ounce of dollar out of it, but by the end its going to be juice no one wants.

  • Marc Hendry

    I still really like the animated films, but the Disney company is unsettlingly large.
    I wonder how long it’ll last, and what could topple a giant like that?

  • KW

    How is this legal? And Disney is a soulless version of its former self. Instead of trying to get better they just up and buy everything better than them.

    • Inkan1969

      I would support any effort to break up Disney through a trust-busting action.

      • KW

        yeah its disturbing how large theyve been allowed to become

  • Rob

    I’m definitely curious to see how this affects Blue Sky (if at all). I personally don’t see Disney doing anything with Blue Sky other than putting a Scrat mascot at Disney World, or the Rio birds somewhere in Animal Kingdom.

    Acquiring BS is nothing like the acquisition of Pixar back in 2006. Pixar had essentially beat Disney in the CG game, become a household name of their own, and Disney NEEDED them to partner up. Disney doesn’t need Blue Sky or any of it’s current properties. But it would be interesting, since BS is essentially a Pixar training ground for animators and story artists, with many employees using the studio as a stepping stone to California.

    If Blue Sky is lucky, they finally get financial freedom to stop making endless Ice Age sequels into eternity and focus on better original content.

  • Coolius Jeezer

    If Disney keeps acquiring billion dollar properties at this rate, can I get an over/under on the number of years before a monopoly suit is filed against them?

  • Inkan1969

    My first thought was that maybe Disney’s goal is to get the rights to all the Marvel characters still held by Fox, to put in their Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’d worry then if they’d be willing to do more “Deadpool” movies.

    My second thought was Blue Sky and FX. Does this mean that the “Ice Age” characters become Disney characters? And will FX still be able to show adult oriented cartoons like “Archer”?

    I didn’t even think of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy”.

  • Bob

    Well that’s the way around wage fixing I guess… just make the entire entertainment industry one company

  • Owning the studio that made THIS film just seals it for me!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbGVIdA3dx0

  • StephaneDumas

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who disliked “The Principal and the Pauper”(the Armin Tamzarian episode). But now with “Homer’s dignity”(where he was raped by a panda, I wait to see Homer giving a payback time moment for a future “Treehouse of horror”), “The Boys of Bummer” (where Bart received dead threats because he missed the ball) and “That 90s show” (retconning Homer and Marge first meeting), I can’t imagine what’s coming up next.

    And it’ll be soon 20 years ago then Phil Hartman who voiced Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz , left us too soon… :-(

  • Robert Kania

    Sweet! That means the X-Men will be a part of Marvel

  • Steven Bowser

    They’d finally have access to X-Men and be able to work then into the MCU. :O

  • The Simpsons Prophecy

    I should clarify, it wasn’t from the show, but a joke in a Simpsons book, Comic Book Guy’s Guide to Pop Culture. In it, there’s a page looking into what’s on his brain, and something that is on his mind is a ‘Secret fondness for My Little Pony. I have a link to the illustration. See the green part in the top right corner. This book was published in 2005. http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/comic-book-guy-brain-4501.jpg

  • Emilio Aguinaldo

    Any word on what the Securities and Exchange Commission has to say in this