Disney closes $71 billion deal with Fox

Like any marriage, Disney and Fox will have to figure out how to mesh what each brings to their new union. It's just that the corporate wedding of Mickey Mou...

Posted: Mar 20, 2019 9:59 AM

Like any marriage, Disney and Fox will have to figure out how to mesh what each brings to their new union. It's just that the corporate wedding of Mickey Mouse's sprawling media empire and the entertainment assets that were built under Rupert Murdoch have $71 billion worth of stuff to combine.

The long-gestating acquisition officially closes March 20, and in the process reshapes two of Hollywood's major studios.

The assets that Murdoch keeps provide a leaner, more focused entity built around the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel and Fox Sports. That company will live on as the Fox Corporation.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, meanwhile, achieves the necessary bulk, theoretically, to mount a formidable competitor to Netflix, Amazon, Apple and other streaming and tech giants crowding into the entertainment space.

Notably, Disney wasn't the only studio thinking this way. Comcast, the parent of NBCUniversal, made its own aggressive bid for the Fox holdings, which wound up costing Disney far more than its initial $52-billion offer to secure the rights.

Now, Disney must determine how to best put together an enormous content puzzle, with some pieces that obviously fit into its existing template, and a few stragglers and outliers that both open new doors and, possibly, create fresh headaches.

Disney's content kingdom

Disney is hungry for content, as the studio prepares to launch its own subscription streaming service, Disney+, later this year.

Certain parts of Fox will fit neatly into Disney's framework. For starters, Fox controlled rights to various Marvel Comics properties — foremost X-Men and Fantastic Four — which will likely be integrated into Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fox's movie production complements Disney's efforts. The theatrical title "Avatar" has already been turned into an attraction at Disney World — the Disney parks and merchandising apparatus being other beneficiaries of the access to additional intellectual property.

Other elements of the acquisition will expand Disney's footprint, bringing with it edgier material to the traditionally family-friendly House of Mouse. That includes specialty film division Fox Searchlight and the FX cable network — units that have received reassurances from Iger that they won't need to change their focus or water down their menus. (Fox has produced R-rated superhero movies, like "Logan" and "Deadpool," a bridge that Disney's Marvel has yet to cross.)

A less-heralded addition, National Geographic, also provides a documentary and nature component, which figures prominently in Disney's plans, where the diverse array of programming also includes ABC News and ESPN.

After the honeymoon

In an interview last fall with the Hollywood Reporter, Iger stressed that Disney is "playing the long game," as studios gradually evolve their distribution models and revenue streams around more direct-to-consumer relationships. That will include, Iger said, "less bundling of channels and more selling of specific brands, programs, etc."

Disney, in many respects, appears uniquely suited to capitalize on such an environment, having assembled through previous acquisitions an arsenal of brands with the most avid followings in pop culture, including "Star Wars," Marvel and Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation Studios.

Fox augments that repertoire, while bringing a roster of talent into the company, including TV executives Peter Rice, Dana Walden and John Landgraf.

There will also be a period of unease and uncertainty, since consolidating the two entities is expected to result in an unspecified number of layoffs. Disney has told investors that it intends to achieve "at least $2 billion in cost synergies by 2021."

"Anxiety is running high on the Fox lot," Vanity Fair reported.

In a less obvious vein, expanding Disney's holdings means there may be additional pressure points and potential sources of controversy. That's no small matter for a company that has experienced its share of public-relations flare-ups in the last year, including the firings of Roseanne Barr from her ABC sitcom and "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn over comments on social media. The latter was recently rehired for the next "Guardians" sequel.

The deal will also yield a hard-to-quantify return to Disney in terms of prestige. FX has been a major awards contender in television. Disney is also picking up a controlling stake in Hulu, which became the first streaming service to snag a best-drama Emmy with "The Handmaid's Tale."

In movies, Disney and Fox combined to win 11 awards — nearly half of those presented — at the Oscars in February, including honors for "Black Panther," 20th Century Fox's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Fox Searchlight's "The Favourite."

The Oscars, incidentally, air on Disney-owned ABC.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 665285

Reported Deaths: 12697
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion910581653
Lake48637887
Allen36050641
Hamilton32231398
St. Joseph30243514
Elkhart25484420
Vanderburgh21315382
Tippecanoe20185205
Johnson16425361
Porter16053276
Hendricks15899301
Clark12032182
Madison11779321
Vigo11672231
Monroe10394164
Delaware9879179
LaPorte9821198
Howard9095199
Kosciusko8588111
Bartholomew7504147
Warrick7445153
Hancock7439134
Floyd7255172
Wayne6654192
Grant6453157
Boone611991
Morgan6118126
Dubois5933112
Dearborn550669
Cass5477100
Marshall5446105
Henry542695
Noble510978
Jackson465567
Shelby462591
Lawrence4193113
Gibson404985
Harrison402764
Clinton397053
Montgomery390584
DeKalb387178
Knox357885
Miami357863
Whitley350638
Huntington348377
Steuben339855
Wabash333076
Putnam331960
Ripley327862
Adams325149
Jasper318443
White298052
Jefferson295974
Daviess285696
Fayette272656
Decatur271388
Greene262280
Posey261432
Wells258975
Scott251450
LaGrange242170
Clay241444
Randolph225877
Spencer219330
Jennings216344
Washington213027
Sullivan203639
Fountain202542
Starke189251
Owen183453
Fulton179637
Jay178528
Carroll176919
Perry173836
Orange171351
Rush165422
Vermillion161542
Franklin159735
Tipton149241
Parke140116
Pike128433
Blackford120627
Pulaski107544
Newton96732
Brown95240
Benton92413
Crawford92113
Martin80314
Warren75914
Switzerland7558
Union67510
Ohio54111
Unassigned0434

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 976230

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1127971251
Cuyahoga966701881
Hamilton737981067
Montgomery47453923
Summit40562831
Butler35750531
Lucas35685720
Stark29548826
Warren22539275
Lorain22149424
Mahoning19556551
Lake18509332
Clermont18484205
Delaware16576121
Licking15063194
Fairfield14622188
Trumbull14397424
Greene13636221
Medina13484237
Clark12352256
Wood11633170
Portage11104172
Allen10815216
Richland10360188
Miami10055194
Muskingum8224117
Columbiana8165210
Pickaway8085111
Tuscarawas8065232
Marion8015127
Wayne7915199
Erie6948146
Ross6170132
Geauga6105142
Hancock6021121
Ashtabula5998154
Scioto599188
Lawrence527186
Union515641
Darke5046116
Belmont4990137
Huron4848108
Jefferson4831137
Sandusky4791112
Washington473696
Seneca4720111
Athens465849
Mercer459181
Auglaize456682
Shelby442579
Knox4053105
Putnam400393
Madison394755
Fulton382561
Ashland381983
Brown374352
Defiance373588
Crawford359598
Logan356973
Preble353887
Clinton342055
Highland328451
Ottawa325171
Williams303268
Jackson291246
Champaign290149
Guernsey288745
Perry270748
Fayette269843
Morrow261137
Henry247361
Hardin246859
Holmes244097
Coshocton240056
Van Wert230257
Gallia223538
Adams218139
Pike216728
Wyandot212050
Hocking194954
Carroll181743
Paulding160834
Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117137
Morgan101620
Harrison100731
Vinton76613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 24°
Angola
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 23°
Huntington
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 27°
Fort Wayne
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 24°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 22°
Seasonal Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events