Simpsons Saw This Fox-Disney Deal Coming 20 Years Ago

Meanwhile, some are worried about a decline in the quality of movies
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2017 1:29 PM CST
Disney-Fox Mega Deal Raises Worry About Quality of Movies
The Walt Disney Co. logo appears on a screen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Disney was already a behemoth enterprise, but its proposed $52.4 billion purchase of the bulk of 21st Century Fox would make it even more of a giant. As the Washington Post notes, Disney is currently the biggest US studio in terms of box office returns, with the Marvel and Star Wars franchises among its big earners. And under this deal, it would acquire Fox, which is no slouch at No. 3, thanks to its own franchises such as X-Men and Avatar. More details and analyses of the deal, which still faces a potentially big hurdle—the approval of federal regulators:

  • New Disney: In addition to the above-mentioned Marvel, Star Wars, X-Men, and Avatar franchises, the new company also would encompass ABC, ESPN, FX, National Geographic, and a wide range of shows including The Simpsons, Homeland, and Modern Family. Disney also becomes the biggest stake-holder in Hulu, notes Vox, and the company also gets a beefed-up international presence because Fox holds a 40% stake in Sky, the biggest media company in Europe, reports the New York Times.
  • Smaller Fox: Rupert Murdoch's company will keep Fox News, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting, along with the FS1, FS2, and the Big Ten Network. It's about "returning to our roots as a lean, aggressive" company with a focus on "must-watch news and live sports," says Murdoch's son, Lachlan.
  • Simpsons prediction: Did the all-knowing Simpsons predict this merger? But, of course, way back in 1998, notes (See it here.)

  • Why? The Wall Street Journal reports that this is all about Disney trying to beef up its video-streaming business to compete with the likes of Netflix. CEO Bob Iger also "wants Disney to have its own relationships with consumers and a broad array of content to offer them online."
  • Worried about movies: At the Globe and Mail, Berry Hertz thinks bad things are in store for the quality of movies. "Expect the remaining major studios—Sony, Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal—to double down on their franchise efforts in order to compete with the Disney behemoth," he writes. "That means yet more exploitation of whatever weak intellectual property the remaining players control." A post at Variety agrees, observing that it will be "increasingly difficult for producers and directors to find a home for movies that don’t fit into a comic book box or fantasy mold."
  • Help for ESPN: Disney would get Fox Sport Regional Networks as part of the deal, and that could have a "seismic impact" on struggling ESPN because it opens up tons of new content, reports the Washington Post. Those regional networks control the local cable rights to scores of professional teams.
  • Leveraging: A post at Fortune ponders how Disney, the masters of monetizing, might be able to leverage its new franchises. "A Deadpool ride at Walt Disney World? Conceivable," writes Andrew Nusca. "A summer blockbuster featuring Wolverine and Thing? Entirely possible."
  • Merger frenzy: Business Insider suggests that the deal is such a game-changer that all kinds of industry mergers could follow. One hypothetical is Netflix buying MGM. "Everybody is talking to everybody," says one industry consultant.
  • Layoffs: "Synergy" may be a buzzy business term, but in this case it's going to mean bad news for some employees. The Los Angeles Times expects hundreds of Fox employees in Southern California to be laid off if the deal goes through, because their duties are already taken care of at Disney.
(More Disney stories.)

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