Disney CEO Bob Iger isn't shy about admitting the issues with Fox's movies that have been released since the merger. However, Iger also says the studio was having issues long before the Disney merger and that these should be viewed as temporary setbacks. Disney doesn't have any buyer's remorse, at least not yet.
Earlier this year, Disney finally closed its $71.3 billion deal and merged with Fox, taking over the majority of the company's media assets, including all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox. Since that time, movies such as Dark Phoenix, Stuber and several others that were completed by Fox prior to the merger and were subsequently released by Disney have flopped. Ultimately, that contributed in large part to an underwhelming quarter, which saw the studio report $170 million in operational losses.
During a conference call to investors, Bob Iger, at the time, pinned the losses on the Fox movie slate and stated things were below their expectations in that department. Now, in a recent interview, Iger has cleared the air a bit. Some took those comments to mean that Disney had perhaps overpaid for Fox and that more trouble could be brewing. Here's what Iger had to say.
"It wasn't a slap-down. It was an admission that the movies that they had made failed. And I actually gave them a tremendous amount of cover by saying that when companies are bought, processes and decision making can come to a halt. There were problems at that studio well before the deal was announced. But the reason I did not believe that it was something we should be concerned about is because it's a short-term problem. And with the talent that we have at our studio, that are now supervising with some of their executives all the movies that they decide to make and how they are made, I'm convinced that the turnaround can happen. It's not a snap your fingers, but it's not 10 years of lost value. It's a year and a half."
With a major merger like this, it takes time to sort out the details. A lot of time. But Bob Iger has every reason to be confident. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, for example, is now in charge of Fox's Marvel properties, such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Given Feige's track record, Disney should expect big returns from those franchises in the future. Disney can similarly try to work its magic on the rest of Fox's catalog. But that's not something that can happen overnight, as Iger explains.
Part of the process was axing most of Fox's development slate. Disney had no reason to be confident that Fox was giving the green light to winning projects, so it's more or less a process of rip it up and start again. Whether or not Fox will prove to be as good of an investment as Marvel, Pixar or Lucasfilm remains to be seen, but Bob Iger is a man who has consistently proved he knows what he's doing. This news comes to us via the New York Times.