Disney has officially struck a deal to purchase Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment empire, 21 Century Fox media company. A $52.4-billion stock deal is set to radically transform Hollywood forever as it will effectively eliminate one of the major six Hollywood film studios. Including debt that Disney will assume, the deal is valued at $66 billion dollars.
The deal includes the 20th Century Fox movie and television studio, Fox’s 22 regional sports channels, cable entertainment brands FX and National Geographic as well as Fox’s portfolio of international operations, including a India-based pay-TV service. Rupert Murdoch would only retain control of Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and his newspapers.
The deal will make Rupert Murdoch, co-executive chairman of Fox, and sons James (CEO) and Lachlan (co-executive chairman), key shareholders of Disney stock. According to Bloomberg estimates, Fox shareholders will end up with about a 25% stake in Disney, with the Murdoch family trust owning around 5%. Speculation exists that James Murdoch could get offered a senior Disney executive role that he would take on once the transaction closes, but nothing as been announced.
Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive, will remain with the company through 2021.
Superhero fans are both weary and excited about the news as many long held Marvel properties like X-Men and Deadpool have been developed at 20th Century Fox with no real opportunity for Disney to fold them into the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe, i.e. The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, etc. The merger will provide Disney the ability to finally crossover characters like Wolverine in The Avengers movies, inline with storylines that have taken place for decades in various comic books.
Some of the beloved Fox franchises that would now transfer ownership into Disney’s realm include Deadpool, The X-men, Fantastic Four, Alien, Predator, Avatar, Kingsman, Planet of the Apes, The Simpsons, The X-Files, just to name a few.
At this point, Disney is a franchise machine after acquiring Lucasfilm, Marvel rights and beyond. Anything could happen next in an unimaginable number of scenarios. Screenwriters and filmmakers alike have their work cut out for them.