- The Disney-Fox merger finally closed on Wednesday, and Disney now owns Fox’s stake in Hulu and its popular movie franchises, such as “Avatar” and “X-Men.”
- Post-merger, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will drastically change, Disney will launch its own streaming service, and the company now owns the majority of Hulu.
The $71 billion Disney-Fox deal officially closed on Wednesday, pushing Disney even further in its dominance of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Disney now owns Fox’s film studio, many of its television assets, its stake in Hulu, and its popular film franchises, such as “Avatar,” “X-Men,” “Alien,” and “Deadpool.”
Disney is guaranteed to be the box-office champion for years to come. It was already on top with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the “Star Wars” franchise, and Pixar animated movies. Now it has tightened its grip on audiences. On top of the merger, Disney is also jumping into the streaming war and will launch its own service by the year’s end to compete with Netflix.
To summarize, Disney is everywhere and impossible to escape. So what can consumers expect?
Disney already owns the biggest movie franchises in the world
The MCU is the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, three of its four “Star Wars” movies since 2015 have grossed more than $1 billion each. And Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” did the same last year. Now Disney owns “Avatar,” the highest-grossing movie of all time that director James Cameron is developing sequels to.
It also owns the film rights to the Marvel characters X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool, meaning Marvel Studios is free to use them in the MCU in the future. It’s unknown what Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios’ president, has planned for the characters, if anything. But after Aprils’ “Avengers: Endgame,” the franchise will move in a new direction and will need new blood to sustain itself.
Disney is launching Disney+ this year
It’s unknown how much the platform will cost per month, but subscribers can expect most of the Disney library, with some caveats.
Old “Star Wars” movies may not be included with the service, as negotiations between Disney and Turner Broadcasting, which owns the TV rights to the films, reportedly stalled last year, according to Bloomberg.
Disney is developing original content for the service, including live-action “Star Wars” and Marvel shows, as well as a “Monster’s Inc.” animated series and a “High School Musical” series. Disney ended a licensing deal with Netflix this year, and all of its theatrical releases, starting with “Captain Marvel,” will wind up on Disney+ instead of Netflix.
Disney owns the majority of Hulu and will likely pursue complete ownership
Disney already owned 30% of Hulu and now owns 60% after the Fox merger.
It’s safe to assume that Disney could pursue the rest of Hulu, which Comcast owns 30% of and WarnerMedia owns the last 10% of. Variety reported last month that Disney was in active talks with WarnerMedia to acquire its 10% stake. And if Disney had complete ownership of Hulu, it’s likely that it would consider bundling it with Disney+.
Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed this last year and said that the Disney streaming service, Hulu, and ESPN+ are all targeted at different audiences, but if a consumer wants all three, the potential is there to bundle them.
“If a consumer wants all three, ultimately, we see an opportunity to package them from a pricing perspective,” Iger said. “But it could be that a consumer just wants sports or just wants family or just wants the Hulu offering, and we want to be able to offer that kind of flexibility to consumers.”
The fact that Disney+ and Hulu will be designed for different audiences is one reason that more adult-friendly Fox assets could end up on Hulu. Iger has said that Disney+ will be family-friendly but that he’s open to R-rated material after the merger, such as Fox’s “Deadpool” franchise, as long as it is branded correctly to avoid confusion with audiences.