Disney Not Purchasing Fox May be Great for Hollywood
Early this week, news broked that Disney and Fox were in initial discussions for Disney to purchase a majority stake of Fox. However, other reports have since broke claiming that talks are “dead.” This purchase certainly could have made for some interesting developments. Then again, there are some serious unintended consequences that may have come into play.
What Was Disney Trying to Buy?
The Mouse was reportedly looking to purchase Fox’s entertainment assets, most notably its film, TV, and international holdings. If Disney wanted to purchase anymore of Fox, such as Fox Sports or Fox News, it would undoubtedly have broken antitrust laws since Disney already owns ESPN/ABC and local affiliate stations.
For all you comic book fans out there, this would have meant that the rights of X-Men, Fantastic Four, and any other Marvel property at Fox would go back to Disney. You could have seen that MCU-Fantasitc Four movie that you’ve been clamoring for.
Alas, talks are done for the time being. So, you’ll have to deal with everything being separate for now.
So Where Does Disney Go From Here?
It’s no secret that Disney is attempting to go head-to-head with Netflix in the ever-souring relationship between the two companies. In recent months, it has been announced that Marvel and other Disney properties will leave Netflix soon as the company gears up to release its own streaming service in 2019. Purchasing Fox clearly would have made this service very powerful given the wide array of properties that Fox owns that could make for appealing content.
Who knows, talks may occur again some time in the future. After all, Disney stills wants to make their streaming service as potent as possible. They might move towards buying out other companies of their stakes in Hulu to further grow their online platform. Or, they might even take a second look at buying Twitter as a means to improve online power.
Disney is looking to change the game when it releases its streaming service, so you can be sure that it’ll make some serious moves over the next year or so, whether or not Fox is involved.
What Does This Mean for Audiences?
Judging by the title of the article itself, you can guess the way I lean on this topic. But, the conversation may not be as black and white as you think.
For fans of superheroes, this means no X-Men of Fantasic Four in the MCU for now. Also, Fox still owns the original Star Wars (the entire deal deserves its own article), making box sets and releases of the original, unaltered version very, very tricky.
Creative Freedom May be Safe…for Now
Then, there’s the entire discussion of creative freedom and diversification.
Whether it was by design or not, Fox has taken some serious risks with their high-profile properties in recent years. The film and entertainment division of Fox switched leadership back in 2016, causing the company to change course in how it approaches some of its films. The company is changing up general genre conventions, especially with its superheroes films. These chances were somewhat born out of shaky financial position for the film sector of Fox, but these gutsy moves have paid off nicely.
They say that competition breeds ingenuity, and that might be lost if Disney pulled off the deal. That’s not to say that Disney wouldn’t do a great job; they aren’t as successful as they are because they are merely adequate. But, Disney does have an established, family-friendly brand that it has used to build its empire. As currently constructed, Disney wouldn’t consider R-rated films or something that is seriously off the beaten path. Disney isn’t necessarily bland, but they certainly don’t produce the most inventive, far-out films on the market. For there not to be a noticeable difference in film quality, Disney would have to make a serious, fundamental change to its core values.
Creative, Niche Content is What Hollywood Needs
Along with Fox’s more well known content is their more prestige-focused divisions, most notably Fox Searchlight. The division has been responsible for a plethora of Oscars in recent years, while Disney’s Oscars have been predominantly for their animated films. Since 2004, here are the renowned films that Fox Searchlight has had a part in producing:
Little Miss Sunshine
Fast Food Nation
The Darjeeling Limited
(500) Days of Summer
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
12 Years a Slave
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Battle of the Sexes
On top of that, the division is behind Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water, two of this year’s Best Picture hopefuls. Disney has focused more on wide-ranging, crowd-pleasers for most of its existence. Again, that’s not a bad thing at its surface, but Disney would still need to change its calculus to an alarming degree to help facilitate more prestige films. This notion doesn’t even consider Fox’s niche TV content that would need an entirely different article to discuss.
The purpose of this article is not to badmouth Disney. I’m sure they would do just fine with new sectors of the company. But, there are certainly some unintended consequences of such a big merger. Writers and other employees have already complained that such a deal would hamper their ability to make a living with less competition for their work. There are certainly glamorous sides of Hollywood, but there are also people just trying to make a living.
Some deal like this one will occur in the future. At this point, it’s inevitable. Let’s just make sure that the film industry can handle such a drastic change.
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