A new report indicates Disney was in talks to acquire Fox in order to boost their upcoming streaming service and compete with Netflix. For years, movies based on characters from Marvel Comics have been split along a dividing line: On one side, the Marvel Cinematic Universe distributed by Marvel Studios/Disney, and on the other, films distributed by 20th Century Fox. Hence, for instance, the lack of X-Men in Avengers movies (not to mention the fact that the rights to Spider-Man and his stable of characters belong to Sony Pictures).
But it was recently reported that Disney was in talks to take over Fox’s film and TV studio, as well as some of its cable networks. While those talks have since stalled, they have made the possibility of a more-complete Marvel Cinematic Universe seem within reach.
Well, it turns out that the prospect of watching Wolverine and Thor share a screen wasn’t Disney’s only motivation in pursuing a deal with Fox. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Disney’s business dealings suggest a desire to enter the streaming market with a splash. Disney will take its movies off of Netflix in 2019, and solidify its commitment to streaming by launching a family-friendly service the same year. It also plans on rolling out an ESPN streaming service in 2018.
By acquiring Fox, Disney would also get its 30 percent stake in Hulu, which would leave Disney with majority control. Fox has also bid $15.5 billion to buy out Sky, a European paid-TV distributor of which it already owns 39 percent; if both that deal and Disney’s acquisition of Fox were to go through, Disney could reinvigorate its relatively faltering TV presence. Comparing Disney’s TV revenue to Netflix’s revenue over the first nine months of their current fiscal years, Disney’s numbers have been higher – $18 billion vs $8.4 billion – but Netflix has trended up from its previous fiscal year while Disney has plateaued.
Absorbing Fox would allow Disney to not only strengthen its foray into the streaming market, but also consolidate its valuable intellectual properties. Fox has used Marvel properties to impressive effect both in movie theaters and on TV. For example, Deadpool grossed over $363 million domestically – more than Guardians of the Galaxy (about $333 million) and Doctor Strange (shy of $233 million). On the TV front, meanwhile, Legion sits at a comfortable 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s fair, however, to wonder how far Disney’s project of acquiring studios and companies will go. It has managed to get its hands on Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and more; with its sights set on Fox, it could get another big name under its umbrella. Perhaps one day, in the future, movie theaters will show a Marvel-DC crossover extravaganza – and atop the credits will be the Walt Disney Company, fresh off its purchase of DC Comics. For now, though, that image remains a distant fantasy – especially as fans wait for Disney to collect the entire Marvel catalogue under one umbrella.