This morning, The Walt Disney Company announced the acquisition of several divisions of 21st Century Fox. The purchase, which was rumored since weeks ago, closed for 52 billion dollars in shares.
On the surface, the agreement will allow Disney to reunite, finally, all the superheroes of Marvel Comics under the same film franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe ( UCM ). The house of Mickey Mouse will be made with the film rights of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and characters derived as Deadpool.
Other franchises included in the purchase are the billionaire Avatar and the institution of animation and satire, The Simpsons. With this, Disney expands its already formidable catalog of intellectual properties, possibly the dream of every fan of pop culture.
However, there are other ramifications of this agreement between two of the “six major” film studios, which will undoubtedly shake up the film industry and the media with immediate, and potentially negative, consequences for the general public in some cases.
So, here we present the good points, and the bad ones, of the million dollar operation:
1. The good: many, many superheroes
For several years, the exclusive film rights of The Fantastic Four and the X-Men , two of the most popular Marvel Comics publications, have belonged to 20th Century Fox. The studio has already released three films of the first franchise, and a dozen of the second if spinoffs are counted (like Wolverine or Deadpool), with more on the way.
Devoid of its most popular characters (which also considers Spider-Man , whose rights still belong to Sony Pictures), Marvel Studios has had to resort to its lesser-known creations, such as Iron Man or Doctor Strange, although it has managed to popularize them.
The desire of the printed fans, however, is to see these characters together on screen, which has been difficult due to contractual complications that have only been avoided in the case of the arachnid hero.
A meeting between the X-Men and The Avengers would be possible in the future thanks to this agreement, and the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has declared himself “anxious” to get his hands on the mutants marvelitas.
However, seeing this geek dream come true would be the only positive implication of the Disney-Fox agreement.
2. The bad: monopolization and little variety
Nowadays, if you make a list of the most popular franchises, it is likely that the vast majority belong to Disney, even indirectly.
As if it were not enough UCM, which in itself groups many franchises, just remember that Mickey Mouse also owns Walt Disney Animation Studios (producer of Frozen , among many others), Pixar Animation Studios ( Toy Story ) and Lucasfilm, home of Star Wars , which has just released its eighth episode and will not stop soon.
Another segment of the company is Disney Media Networks, which brings together various television channels more or less distanced from the Disney brand, from Disney Channel and Disney XD, to ESPN, ABC Studios and Vice Media, a catalog that now grows with the integration of FX and National Geographic. The shares of 21st Century Fox in the streaming platform Hulu , one of the main competitors of Netflix in the United States, will also be absorbed.
Of this last one, Disney already owned 30% of participation, that now ascends to 60%. This would give Disney a more solid ground in terms of platform and content, for its foray into the streaming video market in 2019.
The first obvious consequence is the domain of a single company in the media and entertainment industry. It can be argued that Disney is now the most powerful Hollywood studio in existence, with unequaled presence in the media.
The second is a potential homogenization of content under the brand “suitable for the whole family” of Disney, to make them more accessible to the general public. The creative freedom that has made possible adult superhero productions, such as The Punisher on Netflix or Deadpool in the movies, could disappear in favor of “skim” versions of these characters.
Apparently you can’t actually blow the Matterhorn. pic.twitter.com/2bEAAcZrUv
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 14, 2017
But above all, this brings The Walt Disney Company one step closer to media and cultural monopolization, something that is not exactly healthy to encourage the multiplicity of criteria in a society.
But at least we have the memes, and the memory that The Simpsons predicted this acquisition 20 years ago.
Los Simpson ya predijeron en 1998 que Disney compraría el estudio 20th Century Fox. pic.twitter.com/G9d8batYsh
— Isma (@Ismamao_) December 14, 2017