Disney-Fox Merger: 5 Ways It Could Affect You
Hollywood will never be the same after mega-deal that gives Walt Disney (DIS) all of 21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) movie and TV operations, FX and National Geographic, regional sports properties, Fox’s Hulu stake and international TV businesses.
The ink’s still drying (and regulators will surely be examining the deal closely), but if it happens, here’s what this could mean for you.
You’ll Watch A Disney Movie Whether You Realize It Or Not
In 2016, Disney’s Buena Vista studio rang up the most box office monies with 26.3% domestic market share and just over $3 billion in gross ticket receipts. Twentieth Century Fox came in third with 12.9% and $1.47 billion, according to Box Office Mojo data.
Together, they accounted for nearly 40% of the box office. A combined Buena Vista-20th Century Fox studio system would cement Disney’s place at the No. 1 spot, making it a movie monster. No. 2 player Warner Bros. and its 16.7% share ($1.9 billion) last year would have a hard time catching up.
(If you’re curious, Universal and Sony/Columbia round out the top 5 players in American theaters.)
All of this means that once the transaction closes, likely mid-next year, Disney might prove to be unavoidable at your local movie theater.
Your Favorite Superheroes Are All Going To Hang Out
The X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool are back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now — heck, even Spidey’s been on loan from Sony — which means that all of your favorite Marvel heroes have a greater chance of getting screen time together than ever before.
Disney CEO Bob Iger, on a conference call Thursday, said he is “looking forward” to expanding the MCU to include these guys.
Iron Man could hang out with Mister Fantastic! Thor could trade hair secrets with Rogue! Hulk could share anger management tools with Wolverine!
Think about it. The possibilities are endless.
Han Shoots First!
Furthermore — listen close, “Star Wars” nerds — Iger is also eager to reunite the original Lucasfilm flick, 1977’s “Episode IV: A New Hope,” with its successors.
This “opens new opportunities for that iconic franchise,” he said.
Mashable hopes that means a “proper restoration and re-release of Star Wars as it was seen in 1977, without the controversial retrofitting Lucas added in the 1997 Special Edition.”
So hey, maybe Disney’s new standalone streaming service could include all the “Star Wars” flicks your heart desires, including a high-def visual of Han shooting first.
A More ‘Adult’ Hulu — And Bigger Rivalry vs. Netflix, Amazon
TV enthusiasts: If you’ve been mulling over whether it’s worth it to tack on a Hulu subscription to your Netflix and Amazon memberships, consider that more movies and shows are coming down the pipe.
Iger said he envisions Hulu being “sort of a more adult-oriented product using Fox Television production and FX.”
Fox pulling out of Hulu means that Disney has doubled its stake in the streaming entertainment platform from 30% to 60%, giving it a controlling interest in the company that is also jointly owned by Comcast’s (CMCSA) NBCUniversal (30%) and Time Warner (10%).
“Owning roughly a third of it was great, but having control of it will enable us to greatly accelerate Hulu into that (direct-to-consumer streaming) space and become an even more viable competitor to those that are already out there,” said Iger, in a nod to Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video.
Basically, he plans to do that by “flowing more content in Hulu’s direction.” The service has noticeably lagged behind Netflix and Amazon in the original content space, pretty much all the way up until “The Handmaid’s Tale” charged into the critics’ circle earlier this spring.
Iger also alluded to the Hulu’s too-many-cooks problem that has plagued the company as a result of being partially owned by nearly every media giant in Hollywood.
“Managing Hulu becomes just a little bit more clear, a little bit more efficient, a little bit more effective, with a controlling shareholder rather than with equal partners,” he said.
An ESPN Streaming Subscription May Be Appealing
Disney is adding 22 regional sports networks (RSNs) to its stable — i.e. channels that carry games from 44 professional NBA, MLB and NHL teams.
So if you heard about Disney’s plans for a standalone ESPN streaming service, ESPN Plus, and thought, “Nah, thanks,” you might someday re-consider.
While Iger doesn’t see much of a place for RSNs in ESPN’s direct-to-consumer platform in the short term, given that their distribution is already tied up under existing contracts, he appears ready to jump at the chance to add local games to ESPN’s streaming offering when they become available.
“If, as I mentioned earlier, there is an opportunity to bring their product more in the direct-to-consumer vein or the direct-to-consumer business, we’ll take full advantage of that,” he said.
And ESPN’s brand is going international.
“Regional Sports Networks here in the United States, as well as a rich portfolio of sports rights and properties in Europe, India and Latin America, nicely complements ESPN’s existing business and creates exciting new avenues to grow this brand far beyond the United States,” said Iger on Thursday.
Shares of Disney closed 0.6% higher at 111.27 on the stock market today after gaining 2.75% Thursday. Fox dipped 0.1%, after jumping 6.5% the day before. Netflix added 0.3%, and Amazon rose 0.4%.
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