By Travis Johnson

Well, this is weird news to wake up to. CNBC is reporting that Disney and 21st Century Fox have been in preliminary negotiations that could see the House of the Mouse wind up owning most of Fox’s Holdings, including movie studios 20th Century Fox, with 21st Century Fox retaining its news and sports interests only.

This action would leave Disney unarguably the most powerful media company on the planet. As an indicator, in 2016 Disney accounted for 26% of the US box office, while Fox took a little under 13% – combined, that’s almost 40%, which translates to a lot of bums on seats and, going forward, a lot of minds taking in cultural product from one monolithic source.

Anti-monopoly laws in place mean that Disney won’t be taking Fox’s broadcast network, since they already own the US ABC network. For the same reason, Fox Sports is not part of any potential deal, as Disney owns ESPN.

However, this would give Disney a lot more potential content for their forthcoming streaming services, aka the reason all the Marvel and Star Wars content is going to disappear from Netflix in the not too distant future.

Specifically, Disney will gain control over:

Star Wars Episode IV. 20th Century Fox has always retained control of the original film. If Disney winds up owning 20th Century Fox, the odds of a non-special edition box set hitting shelves at some point in the not too distant future just increased dramatically.

The X-Men movie rights and all that they entail. Finally, Marvel can stop faffing around with the Inhumans and fold the X-Men in to the MCU. All they have to do is explain why their heroes have been tacitly endorsing anti-mutant racism since forever. But, Wolverine could be an Avenger.

The Fantastic Four. We might get a good FF movie. We will at least get new FF comics (Marvel stopped publishing them basically just to mess with Fox).

Alien. Which is, really, a bit of an albatross. But it means Ripley is a de facto Disney Princess.

Avatar. Neytiri is also a Disney princess. Also, as much as we may mock, those sequels are going to make stunning amounts of money.

And that’s just off the top of our heads. The downside? The increasing homogenisation of global culture, one company wielding almost unprecedented didactic power, the death knell of the mid-range movie, Disney being even more bullish in their dealings with exhibitors, the death of individuality, slavery in a Magic Kingdom t-shirt.

Ahem. There are pros and cons, is what we’re saying.

Now, this is all very early stage stuff, and nothing is set in concrete, but Disney is no stranger to epochal power moves (see: the purchase of Marvel, the purchase of Lucasfilm) so, as staggering as such a play might seem, it’s not unprecedented – the scale might be new, the basic strategy is not. It looks like the future belongs to Walt.



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