It's finally happening. The Disney / Fox deal is about to close and the media landscape as we know it is about to undergo one of the most seismic shifts in history. That may sound a bit dramatic, but that doesn't make it any less true. Disney is already an incredibly powerful studio and their about to add more than $70 billion worth of new assets, while absorbing one of the biggest movie studios in Hollywood under its already vast umbrella. The company has announced that the landmark deal will close next week, barring any unexpected setbacks.
Disney has announced that their merger with 21st Century Fox will close on Wednesday, March 20. Specifically, they state that the merger will "become effective at 12:02 a.m. Eastern time on March 20." Previously, we heard that the deal was facing regulatory approval issues in both Mexico and Brazil. Part of Disney's $71.3 billion purchase of Fox's media assets included a host of regional sports networks around the world. Since they already own ESPN, many regulating bodies saw this as an issue. As such, Disney has agreed to sell off these regional sports networks in order to satisfy regulators. While they certainly wouldn't mind the revenue from those sources, this deal is about so much more.
What remains of Fox, which includes the Fox network, Fox News and Fox Sports, will be rolled into a new company called the Fox Corporation. Disney, meanwhile, will be in control of FX Networks, National Geographic and all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, which includes a host of major franchise like Avatar, Planet of the Apes, Kingsman, Alien, Die Hard and more. Perhaps most importantly, the X-Men and Fantastic Four rights, including Deadpool, will be in Disney's control. That means Marvel Studios will be able to fold those characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While much of that seems exciting, there is a dark side to all of this that many not entrenched in the entertainment business may not understand. For starters, due to overlap within what will now be a giant media conglomerate, it's expected that there will be as many as 4,000 layoffs. And since there will be one less major studio in Hollywood after the merger, it will likely be far more difficult for those who are let go to find new jobs. Plus, it will ultimately give consumers potentially fewer options in the marketplace, as 20th Century Fox will no longer be making movies on their own outside the Disney umbrella.
We first heard that Disney had closed the deal with Fox in December 2017. It's taken a long time to close, not just because the deal was so complex, but because last year Comcast tried to outbid Disney. That resulted in the inflated $71.3 billion figure that the Mouse House ultimately had to pay. But the deal, more or less, is done now and Disney, in effect, is about to become arguably the most powerful media company in history. Wednesday, March 20 will indeed be an important day for the history books. This news was previously reported by Vareity.