Back in November 2017 the first news leaked revealed the Walt Disney Company had been in talks with Fox to purchase the company's film and cable television divisions. It was massive news from both a business and entertainment standpoint. Over the next few weeks, the potential merger seemed to become more and more likely. It was only a month later that the two sides came to agreement. A year after the deal was struck, the respective shareholders of the two companies approved the merger. Now it's official. 21st Century Fox is part of the Walt Disney Company. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Officially, the ownership transition will happen at 12:02 a.m. eastern time on March 20th, but for all intents and purposes, the deal is done, according to a press release from 21st Century Fox.
There's really no understating just how big a deal this is in the entertainment industry. A company that used to be one of the major film studios in the world, one of the "big six," is now a subsidiary of another. Whatever your thoughts on Fox or Disney, there's now less competition among the remaining film studios. That's not necessarily a good thing. If nothing else, it's a major change to the industry landscape that will surely have repercussions, some we may not even be able to predict.
On the content side, there certainly are some potentially good things on the horizon. Fox had the rights to make and distribute films about Marvel's X-Men and Fantastic Four as part of a deal the company had made before being acquired by Disney. This deal will bring the rights back to Disney, setting up the opportunity to see all the characters become part of the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, which certainly has the potential to add new and interesting stories.
Fox also had a number of rights attached to the original Star Wars movie, which will now also revert to Disney, who acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012.
While the merger may be done expect for the ink drying, it will likely still be some time before we really begin to see it have an impact on the industry. Fox has numerous films in various states of production that will almost certainly continue forward and be released just as they would if 21st Century Fox was still an independent entity.
Of course, it's also possible Disney could hit the ground running. We will likely see some changes to the release calendar, if only to see Fox and Disney films moved around the schedule so that they don't compete with each other too much. There's also the question of the two oft-delayed X-Men franchise films, Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants, it's been suggested that one or both movies could end up being moved to a streaming service like Disney+ or Hulu. If something like that is in the cards, those announcements could come as early as tomorrow.
Tomorrow, everything changes. It's the end of an era, as a company that's been around since 1935 becomes part of the Disney machine.