Theme Park Insider

Has Disney been in talks to buy Fox?

November 6, 2017, 2:02 PM · Could the Walt Disney Company be buying Fox? The two companies have been talking about an acquisition, according to CNBC.

According to the business network (which, ironically, is owned by rival NBCUniversal), the talks would have led to Disney acquiring Fox's film and television production studios as well as the cable networks FX and National Geographic. Disney also would pick up Fox's Star and B Sky B international networks. The deal would not have included the Fox broadcast network, network-owned affiliate stations, Fox News, or Fox's cable sports channels, which would remain the property of Twenty-First Century Fox.

Disney could not buy many of those properties due to anti-trust concerns. Disney already owns the ABC television network and, with ESPN, is Fox's biggest rival in the cable sports business.

CNBC reports that the talks are not ongoing, but that the companies have been talking in recent weeks.

Fox's biggest movie franchise at the moment is the Disney-owned X-Men franchise, which easily could fold into the Marvel Cinematic Universe should Disney buy Fox. The studio's next-highest-grossing franchise is Planet of the Apes. In animation, Fox also has the Ice Age franchise. In television, Fox controls American Horror Story, American Crime Story, X-Files, and Empire, among other properties.

At the very least, buying Fox's production studios would give Disney much more programming to include in its Netflix-style online streaming service that it is planning to offer in late 2019 or 2020. But those franchises also could be available to Disney for consideration in theme park attractions, too.

One Fox property that likely wouldn't be coming to a Disney park would be The Simpsons, whose theme parks rights are held by Universal. However, with Universal holding the Orlando-area rights to Disney's most widely-known Marvel characters, a Fox deal would mean another of Universal Orlando's top themed area would be licensed from its biggest entertainment industry rival.

Replies (39)

November 6, 2017 at 2:29 PM · Nah, I don't think it will happen. Rupert Murdoch knows that Content feeds the platform - Sky in the UK and Foxtel in australia rely on their sporting rights (Sky saw the challenge of Disney's ESPN and made Disney retreat back over the pond).

They're already smarting after CBS stole Network Ten in Australia from their manoeuvres (A long story, but the short of it is the Murdoch sons are nowhere near as smart as Daddy). I don't think they'd be willing to have their US Network broadcast assets at risk of "corporate blackmail"

November 6, 2017 at 2:42 PM · Fox owns distribution rights to the first Star Wars. Disney probably wants to gain control of X-Men. This acquisition is strategic since Disney will keep what it wants and sell the rest. I don't think Disney wants to maintain the Fox networks or branding.
November 6, 2017 at 3:46 PM · I disagree with the second comment. I think Disney is interested in buying as much of Fox as they can and keeping it for themselves. With ESPN struggling, Disney wants to own as much of Hollywood as they possibly can to make sure Disney is still making a profit even if certain divisions are struggling. Owning most of Fox would mean Disney would own one the oldest and most successful names in Hollywood, one that until fairly recently had more prestige and trust than the Disney name. Fox is one of the surviving studios from the golden age of Hollywood. The back catalog of films alone would make it a good buy, which of course includes the first Star Wars and the famous Fox fanfare.
November 6, 2017 at 4:09 PM · ESPN and Fox can be combined and spun off. Disney can reap the benefits as a minority owner without the risk. ESPN is already a drag on Disney's share prices. This is an opportunity to profit from an increasingly heavy ball and chain. Disney won't be allowed to keep the Fox broadcasting channel and Fox Sports due to anti-trust concerns.
November 6, 2017 at 4:28 PM · Maybe Star Wars can get back the 20th Century Fox fanfare at the beginning of the films, it's not the same with the Walt Disney Pictures logo. Also maybe Disney can trade the Simpsons to Universal for the Marvel rights in Orlando. Hate to lose the Spiderman ride though.
November 6, 2017 at 4:36 PM · The Walt Disney Company ‘cherry picking’ FOX assets shows the WDC has no equal.

Many will try to show Comcast is an equal, but when pressed they can’t offer facts. They can point to Comcast dictating NBC/Universal must align their business units to copy the WDC’s structure. In doing so, Comcast has spent billions on acquisitions and additional billions on NBC/U investments and the results show promise.

The WDC’s goal is to strengthen their future. The FOX IP does this in areas where Disney’s business divisions show gaps, aka potential revenue streams (international expansion, HULU ownership expansion, feature film expansion outside of their mini-studio’s, television production expansion).

If the WDC can gain majority ownership of HULU, an established OTT brand can offer a significant IP opportunity.

CONTENT IS KING!

Netflix’s stock market valuation has proven it, EXCEPT THEY LICENSE 90% OF THEIR CONTENT!

November 6, 2017 at 4:37 PM ·
Disney-Fox Studios Theme Park at WDW?
November 6, 2017 at 4:50 PM · If it went through, then Disney would gain the movie rights to the X-Men AND the Fantastic Four AND Deadpool. PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN! LOVE THE MCU!
November 6, 2017 at 4:47 PM · Would be big but not sure it happens. Still, idea of X-Men falling under the official Marvel banner would be a big deal.
November 6, 2017 at 5:15 PM · Nope, nope, nope, nope. Disney's big enough.
November 6, 2017 at 6:56 PM · If you thought Deadpool was good....please don't bring it into the Disney fold....they are just going to water it down and destroy everything that was good about it.

The article and comments so far have not mentioned the Ice Age franchise and the Avatar franchise which are controlled by 20CF.

November 6, 2017 at 7:15 PM · I'm also reading on Ars Technica, that control of the first 6 Star Wars movies are at stake in this merger. If you want an original restored copy of Star Wars, then this is the only way it is going to happen.
November 6, 2017 at 8:19 PM · Jeff...
A major question regarding AVATAR is if James Cameron owns the “creator” rights, like he does with the Terminator franchise. If so, control of AVATAR will revert to him.

Regarding Deadpool...
If it reaches BILLION DOLLAR franchise status, do you have any facts that Disney will demand Marvel to “water it down and destroy everything that was good about it”???

Stevo B...
The stock market doesn’t agree with you. Nor do brokerage analysts who follow DIS and FOXA.

November 6, 2017 at 8:30 PM · Disney has tended not to mess too much with the companies that they buy. The day-to-day operations of Marvel have been largely unaffected since being bought by Disney and I highly doubt Disney would treat anything they own as a result of buying Fox any differently. If anything they want to buy Fox in part so they can on all of the Star Wars rights, and most of the Marvel rights. Touchstone Pictures has largely been ignored by Disney in favor of Marvel and Lucasfilm. Disney would treat Fox the same way they did Touchstone in the 80s and 90s, a separate brand targeting an older audience than Disney does. Star Wars would return to the Fox banner, and Marvel would too. Touchstone was too small to make a long term dent in the film industry, Disney lost interest in it in recent years. Fox, on the other hand has been a major player in Hollywood for nearly 100 years. It would be an asset to Disney's bottom line. Disney knows not to wreck a successful formula. They've done it before, and possibly they will do it again.
November 6, 2017 at 9:32 PM · I think Disney are most keen on Star Wars original, X-Men and Avatar properties.

Fantastic Four they will get back automatically from disuse anyway. There is no way Fox will/can make another Fantastic Four movie.

November 6, 2017 at 9:35 PM · It would allow the possibility of two very nerdy things to be more likely: 1) the original theatrical Star Wars and 2) the possibly of someone actually doing justice of the single best Marvel villain, and arguably the best comic villain of all time- Dr. Doom. Instead of Fox making him a stupid industrialist with a skin problem, he can actually be the evil genius overlord of a small European country bent on world domination with robots and black magic.

Nerd hopes aside, while many people bemoan the further loss of another studio, and I understand those concerns, Fox on the movie side has done a very poor job marshaling some of its major releases. Of course, Disney was in the same boat a few years ago.

November 6, 2017 at 11:30 PM · CLARIFICATION—

As part of their purchase of Lucasfilm, the WDC gained ownership/copyright to ALL STAR WARS films previously released by FOX. That said, FOX controls, AS IN DOES NOT OWN, distribution rights in perpetuity to A New Hope. They control the distribution rights on the other six films until sometime in 2020.

Regarding the Fantastic Four...
FOX film has two FF features currently in development. The most promising: Dr. Doom. So if this deal falls through, the rights can be automatically renewed if the Dr. Doom film is released, I believe, within seven years of the last FF film.

November 7, 2017 at 12:23 AM · Reading into this in various places, it seems a large amount of this is related to Disney's upcoming streaming service. Whilst they have a large amount of content already, they have nowhere near as much as Netflix. Buying Fox Studios would increase the amount of content significantly. As such, I don't think they would be selling off much stuff, at least not in the short term.

As far as watering down things like Deadpool, I don't think that is too likely. While the films released under the Disney/Marvel brand have essentially been PG13 (I think, that equates to M in Australia), they do have Netflix content which is much more mature, and have talked about releasing a more adult oriented line of movies under a different banner than their MCU movies.

I think if the sequel is a success, they would leave the series unmolested. The issue may be then that they don't integrate the X-Men movies into the Marvel Universe.

November 7, 2017 at 1:29 AM · It's shocking how uncreative The Walt Disney Company is. Expending your television footprint is building good content by attacking writers, directors and a cast. Sure there are risk but buying them and sucking them dry isn't the solution.
November 7, 2017 at 2:46 AM · Although I can see Fox Sports/ESPN being an anti-trust issue, I don't think the Fox Network would be. CBS already owns a big chunk of The CW; precedence is already there.
November 7, 2017 at 4:44 AM · Too bad Fox News wasn't on the table. Captain Hook, Cruella DeVil, and Maleficent could have gotten side jobs as journalists.

"And for a look at the economy, over to you Chemabog..."

November 7, 2017 at 5:49 AM · I think they are going for the X Men sale.
November 7, 2017 at 6:25 AM · Just what America needs, an even more massive Disney monopoly, backed with more political muscle, designed to rip off the taxpayers of Anaheim & Florida, while relentlessly jacking up prices and cutting quality. "The bigger things get, the worse they get." - Gore Vidal.
November 7, 2017 at 10:55 AM · What monopoly anon?
November 7, 2017 at 11:23 AM · Disney does not have a monopoly, and would not have a monopoly if this happened. By definition a monopoly is one company having total control of a certain industry. Disney does not own every movie and TV studio, and would not even if this rumor became a reality. Disney would control more of the TV and film industry but would be far from a monopoly. They would still have to compete with TimeWarner, Comcast, Viacom, Sony/Columbia, and many other smaller production companies.

The real issue is Disney launching its own streaming service. By cutting out the middleman such as cable companies and Netflix, Disney will get more of the profit and make consumers have to get Disney's service to stream Disney shows and movies. I suspect the streaming industry or the other media companies will challenge that. This will probably result in a compromise from the FTC. They will likely require Disney to let Netflix, Amazon and others bid for the streaming rights of Disney owned movies and TV shows, and make the Disney streaming service have to outbid them for those streaming rights. Of course Disney profits from it both ways, but it stil allows other streaming serves the chance to outbid Disney and get the streaming rights if they really wanted to. This is been standard practice for television shows. FX still had to outbid other cable networks for the cable rights to the Simpsons, even though FX and and 20th Century Fox Television are both owned by 21st Century Fox. The money may be going from one part of the company to another, but it still requires a bidding process and the opportunity for someone else to acquire the streaming rights.

November 7, 2017 at 11:48 AM · I'm with Chad on this one. What monopoly?

Disney does not own Six Flags, Disney Does not own Sea World, Disney does not own Universal. If I recall, just last year it was estimated Disney's total market hit was 25% while in Orlando their market share is dropping. Competition translated means "no monopoly". It's sad that there's more competition in the Theme Park industry than Cable/Satellite.

I think the Hulu share is their big target followed by Fox Studios. They don't want to take on FOX Sports, and Murdock already said they are keeping FOX News. The deal might be contingent of them selling of the studios portion of it because it would give Disney almost 80% of the movie market. Bound to raise eyebrows.

Don't forget about BAMTech which is the MLB Streaming service. Disney acquired them. Unless they shore up that tech, I would not want to stream my own movie/tv catalog on it.

November 7, 2017 at 2:43 PM · Keep your clean hands off my #$%@#$ movie franchise.
November 7, 2017 at 3:46 PM · What about 20th Century Fox World in Malaysia....? Massive re-branding and re-skinning?
November 7, 2017 at 5:49 PM · Ummmm, a monopoly does not mean "total control" of an industry. A monopoly means enough control to fix prices and exclude competitors within the relevant market. Which, as for the movie industry, I think they're getting close to being there since they own almost every major franchise that anyone cares about. Wait, who owns Aliens?
November 7, 2017 at 8:00 PM · such a purchase would likely benefit fox shareholders and lower disney stock. Disney already has a ton of valuable IP, to make movies from. This would be a waste of $$$. If anything, disney needs a franchise that is not dependant on superheros. 10 or so years ago, superheros, was not nearly as popular. It could go out of favor again.

disney needs to diversify, if anything. Also. If disney wants to make more high budget movies. make more high budget movies. They are free to do it, with their already existing distribution channels and studios.

Hell. netflix and amazon started from nothing. it only takes money, and a new studio, can be created anytime.

November 8, 2017 at 2:56 AM · >>>>I think they're getting close to being there since they own almost every major franchise that anyone cares about.

No, they don't. They're a long way from it. In any case, most movies aren't a part of franchises.

November 8, 2017 at 2:57 AM · >>>Hell. netflix and amazon started from nothing. it only takes money, and a new studio, can be created anytime.

As big as they are, when compared to the Disney brands (Touchstone, Disney, ABC Studios, etc) those are but minnows though.

November 8, 2017 at 3:42 PM · I respect your opinion.... No, it does not even approach the outer edges of a monopolistic practice.

"A monopoly means enough control to fix prices and exclude competitors within the relevant market."

This assumes you have to buy their product or service because you have no alternative and/or said business(es) are engaging in Anti-competitive practices. Please describe how "Disney" is engaging in Anti competitive practices...????

The product is not a public utility or service nor is it a commodity such as petroleum or petroleum based product. It is private entertainment that you do not have a "need" for. If what you said can be quantified and proofed, the airline industry would have been hit with collusion and price fixing decades ago. The FCC will not stand up to the cable companies in this regard either.

Please let me know if you run that by Ajit Pai at the FCC and see where it goes. (PS: Would love to listen in on that conversation)

November 8, 2017 at 10:42 PM · leastinteresting. monopoly is really a term of art. what people really mean when they say that is several companies controlling the market (typically up to 5), to fix prices and exclude competitors, as you say.

currently, google (though the play store, apple and the company that control the android app store, have such an anti competitive, practice going. I am surprised the justice dept or the EU, has not done anything yet. the EU, has harassed those companies on other things, but not got to that root problem.

the three of them, can exclude any new competitor in apps, that they want. they have been excluded a social media service called GAB, actively.

November 9, 2017 at 11:13 AM · To site my previous statement "quantified and proofed" is the key term here. Let's break down the case being made here: What is implied above is the elasticity of demand which implies that Disney has no close competitors not in terms of geography but in scope or scale. We see more scale now and high quality choice now than 30 years ago, the same principle applies but the examples are completely different.

Second, you refer directly to an anti-competitive practice which leads me back to my original question: "Please describe how "Disney" is engaging in Anti competitive practices...????"

I am not doubting the existence of the practice itself. I have yet to see someone come forward and site an accurate and relevant example... And judging by what I am seeing, I am not going to get one anytime soon.


BTW: "to fix prices and exclude competitors, as you say." came from the Anonomous post. I explicitly quoted what I was responding too. So, please examine MY comments.

November 10, 2017 at 6:17 AM · Did someone say "anti-competitive practices"?

Google the Copyright Term Extension Act also known as "The Mickey Mouse Protection Act". Ask yourself: Would Disney get away with charging the prices it does today, if every park in the USA had Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the other Disney animated characters?

Disneyland ticket in 1981: $10.75. Disneyland ticket in 2017: $124. What a Disneyland ticket would cost in a truly competitive environment as measured by standard inflation: $28.47. Are you happy paying $100 more per ticket over what a ticket would cost in a truly competitive environment?

Memo to Disney apologists: Do you work for Disney? Hard to believe any intelligent consumer would defend anti-competitive practices for free.

November 10, 2017 at 3:21 PM · Memo to people that label other people "Disney Apologists". You can't make something true by saying it over and over and over again. They have a have a word for that, fascism.

You refer to Disney maintaining it's characters rights outside the public domain yet, have amazingly convinced yourself that Disney is the only one that has done this with their intellectual properties.

Let's examine further your statement of a Disneyland tickets against inflation. Oh no, wait, we can't use your starting point because the park entry was just that, park entry. Ticket books were still in use until 1982. Which meant that part of your park use was based off of consumer level decisions as to how many tickets or ticket books you would want to purchase.

Also while I give someone props for actually reading and basing their feedback off my comments, you still did not fully examine what "scale" means in economic terms but I digress.

From my previous statements "What is implied above is the elasticity of demand which implies that Disney has no close competitors not in terms of geography but in scope or scale."

We have no information on what their cost were then compared to now. Also, please explain the correlation of relaxed monetary policies vs. monopolies so that everyone may better understand your response.

So if you need an example to understand scale, there is a very balanced perspective of this, please see: "http://blog.touringplans.com/2016/04/06/disney-world-expensive-competitors/"

While my goal is not to win an argument, it is more to prove that Disney is being labeled a Monopoly based off repeated incorrect premises.

Note: Universal Studios uses characters within the public domain and copyrighted domain. So to expand even further, you might want to explain why no one else is using those public domain properties. Universal also has perpetual rights on some Marvel proprieties which are based on geographic areas.

Still waiting on examples of real anti-competitive practices such as Theme Park business A blocking zoning efforts for Theme Park B. Or Theme Park A selling massive contiguous blocks of of Theme Park Tickets at $380 per on a secondary market then slashing cost of said equivalent ticket at their gate to $260. Theme Park B manipulating a State Government officials to get preferential treatment in creating public infrastructure that would deter consumers from going to Theme Park A.

Maybe you should have labeled me a monopoly apologist?

Respectfully,

Cheers! No charge

November 10, 2017 at 2:56 PM · Anon 104, not trying to diss you but if Disney is a monopoly than they're all monopolies.
November 10, 2017 at 3:12 PM · @ leastinteresting,

If it makes you happy, let's adjust the ticket prices from 1983 for inflation. Based on 1983 prices, today's tickets should cost $29.41.

If you choose to respond, please make a rational argument based on relevant facts.

Maybe you can tell us why lobbying the government to change the rules on your behalf is not an anti-competitive practice? Or tell us why the City of Anaheim should pay for Disney's private parking garage instead of the $162 billion corporation that profits from the parking garage? Since when is Disney hurting for money?

Get real.

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