The Disney Fox deal is inching ever nearer to becoming a reality. The deal, initially announced in December of last year, has been going through the long and complex regulatory process needed in order to make a deal of this size happen. There have been some hurdles and speed bumps along the way, but one of the biggest hurdles has just been cleared as the deal has been approved by China.
According to a new report, Chinese regulators have approved the deal with no conditions. That is of particular importance. U.S. antitrust regulators approved the deal in June, under the condition that Disney sell off a host of regional sports networks they are set to acquire from Fox as part of the deal. European regulators also recently approved the deal, with some conditions. China, on the other hand, decided to let the deal proceed as planned, despite growing trade tensions between the Chinese and U.S. governments. While there are still several steps in the process that need to be completed, this is a very good sign for Disney.
Comcast attempted to outbid Disney for the majority of 21st Century Fox's assets several months ago, which forced Disney to up their bid. Ultimately, Disney won out and is spending $71.3 billion to acquire the company's key media assets. This includes all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, which comes with franchises like Avatar, Alien and Planet of the Apes, amongst many others, as well as networks like FX and National Geographic, in addition to their stakes in international broadcaster Sky and Hulu. Disney will have a majority stake in Hulu once the deal closes, which is critical as this massive deal is largely predicated on setting up the Mouse House to be a major player in the streaming game moving forward.
For fanboys and fangirls all around the world, one of the most important factors of the deal is the lingering Marvel rights held by Fox, which include the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool franchises. Once the deal is completed, Marvel Studios, which is already owned by Disney, will be able to use those characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning we could one day see Wolverine doing battle alongside Black Panther, for example. It also means that the long-running X-Men franchise, which continues with Dark Phoenix next year, is all but done for. Many fans are still hopeful that Ryan Reynolds will have a future as Deadpool on the big screen once the deal is completed.
Disney will use much of Fox's library to help beef up their upcoming streaming service Disney+, which is set to launch late next year. It's expected that the sale will be finalized in early 2019. While that's exciting for a number of reasons, it also means that thousands of employees are going to be laid off, as the newly formed media giant won't need many of those who currently work for Fox. The remainings assets Disney didn't purchase, such as Fox News and Fox Sports, will be formed into a new, much smaller company. This news was first reported by CNBC.