When news first broke last November that Disney had talks about purchasing 21st Century Fox, it was a question of if. Now, after a bidding war, a purchase and shareholder approval, it is a question of when, as in when exactly will this merger become final. It seems that moment may come sooner than we previously thought with Fox potentially ready to close the deal on January 1.

As reported by Variety, 21st Century Fox President Peter Rice told employees that Fox would be ready for the merger from a logistical standpoint on New Year's Day. What this means is essentially that New Fox, what is left of the company that wasn't part of the Disney purchase, will be ready to exist and run on its own on January 1.

What this does not mean is that once the ink is dry, the deal will be officially done and the X-Men will be home on January 1. There are regulatory hurdles and formalities left to clear before this deal is officially official, and that will likely push the date beyond the turn of the calendar. Although, Peter Rice said that the deal is still on track to close in either the first or second quarter of 2019.

We have previously heard that the deal would become official by summer 2019, and this seemingly affirms that will be the case. But the fact that Fox will be ready to roll on January 1 introduces the possibility that if everything else goes smoothly, they'll be able to stick a fork in this thing ahead of schedule.

In the town-hall meeting with Fox staffers, Peter Rice, who will join Disney on the TV side of things when the deal closes, also addressed the concerns of employees and shed a little bit of light on the future. He acknowledged that layoffs would happen, something employees have feared, due to redundant jobs between Disney and Fox.

Peter Rice also spoke to Disney's success in the past at integrating new organizations while still allowing them to maintain their existing cultures, as it has done with Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar. He also made an interesting point about Disney being the only media conglomerate founded by an artist, Walt Disney, and not by a telecom.

What seemed so unlikely little more than a year ago, and seemed more unlikely to happen when Comcast jumped into the fray, now looks like an inevitability. For better or worse, sooner or later (and it is looking like sooner), Disney's purchase of 21st Century Fox's film and television assets will be complete and the entertainment landscape will undergo a tectonic shift of epic proportions.

This deal will just be the largest component, but not the only one, in a huge 2019 for Disney that will also see the Mouse House launch its own streaming service.

Disney won't be the only studio making waves at the box office though next year. There are a ton of huge movies hitting theaters after January 1, so check them out in our 2019 release schedule.

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