Disney Buys Fox
by: Ella Lifset
Ever wanted to see a Captain America-Wolverine-Homer Simpson face off? Well, now it’s possible. With the purchase of the media conglomerate 21st century Fox by The Walt Disney Company, the entertainment industry has now experienced one of the most significant mergers in history. An astonishing $71.3 billion deal was set to close on March 20, 2019, and although not the largest media acquisition in history (that would go to the disastrous AOL-Time Warner purchase in 2000 for over $160 billion), it’s certainly enough to leave billionaire Tony Stark open-mouthed. However, the ramifications of this acquisition will undoubtedly affect the industry considerably, especially with concerns over monopolization. Here are 4 ways that the merger will influence the coming future:
Employee Jobs: Before the acquisition, 21st Century Fox had over 22,400 employees internationally. The Disney-Fox merger, like any other merger, inevitably will lead to layoffs for both companies. Nonetheless, job cuts are expected to be especially unpleasant for former Fox employees, with reports detailing more than 4,000 layoffs. Obviously, some of the cuts were made to prevent duplication of positions filled by those on the Disney payroll. However, many of the layoffs will be in the marketing and distribution operations. With the rise of streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and soon Disney+ (Disney’s very own subscription service), these positions have become less valuable to the company’s success. These jobs that once included tracking ratings, advertisement impressions and local interest have now become obsolete in a world of global streaming.
Fox Corporation: Although The Walt Disney Company did acquire 21st Century Fox, Fox does still exist, but in a much smaller form. Informally dubbed “the New Fox,” Fox Corporation controls assets such as Fox News, Fox Sports and the Fox Broadcasting Company. Interestingly, Disney should have absorbed the last one as well, however due to monopoly laws stating that a single company cannot own more than one broadcast network, Disney had to leave the table Bob’s Burgers-less. Rupert Murdoch, former 21st Century Fox CEO and holder of The Wall Street Journal, is now co-executive of Fox Corporation, with his son as executive chairman. Without Fox TV Studios, it’s looking like the Murdochs will have to stick to sports and news broadcasting to stay in the entertainment business.
Monopoly: It’s all fun, games, and Mickey Mouse pretzels until you realize just how much Disney controls in the entertainment industry. Before the Disney-Fox acquisition, The Walt Disney Company possessed assets such as ESPN, Lucasfilm, Star Wars, Marvel and ABC (yes, Disney owns Grey’s Anatomy). Now, Disney comprises 27% of the film industry, and is one of the few major film studios left (which also includes Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, and Sony). The sudden disappearance of one of the larger corporations in the industry does not bode well for the rest of the American entertainment industry, and concerns regarding how news may reflect the interest of holding companies are most certainly valid. Price-fixing, inflation, and substandard product quality are also concerns that a monopoly produces. However, it is unlikely that Disney will be able to grow much larger, due to American antitrust laws, but with this recent acquisition, one can never be too careful.
Marvel: Much of the media coverage around the Disney-Fox acquisition has understandably been around the the comic-book characters that the Marvel Cinematic Universe now can utilize. The MCU has been a historic landmark in popular culture, with an astounding 21 movies as of April 6, 2019. The movies have also been a worldwide phenomenon and moneymaker, grossing around $18.4 billion at the global box office, a number that doesn’t even include products and merchandise. Now, the MCU has access to previously Fox-owned superheroes, like the uncanny X-men. It should be noted that the X-men do have a shared movie universe of their own, albeit a dreadfully bloated and Mystique-centric one, that will come to a conclusion after the Disney-Fox acquisition. Beloved superheroes like Wolverine and Professor Xavier will soon be able to join ranks with the Avengers to fend off alien invasions, protect planet Earth, and maybe even grab some after-work shawarma. Similarly, the Fantastic Four, who have never been served justice in a movie format, have also come under Disney’s control. Complex and visually appealing villains like Doctor Doom and Galactus, (the latter reduced to a harmless-looking cloud in one of the Fantastic Four movies), if done right, could be extremely compelling additions to the ever-growing MCU. With the release of Avengers: Endgame and consequent end to Phase 3 of the MCU in late April, hopefully Phase 4 will bring characters to the screen that previously belonged to Fox.