Much has been made of the upcoming Disney merger with Fox. The Mouse House ponied up an incredible $71.3 billion to purchase the majority of 21st Century Fox's assets in a deal that initially was announced last December. Though, Comcast forced Disney to up their bid substantially. In any case, the media landscape is in for a major shakeup and much of the coverage of the sale has focused on that aspect, with Marvel fans particularly excited about the X-Men and Fantastic Four joining up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, there is a very ugly side to this deal that involves hundreds, if not thousands of people losing their jobs.
According to a new report, a committee made up of Fox and Disney employees have been meeting to look at what positions can be eliminated following the merger in order to do away with redundancy. And those cuts are expected to be brutal, with some analysts expecting those layoffs to number into the thousands. That means jobs could be much harder to come by for many of those who are out on the street once the merger is complete. One anonymous Fox employee compared the vibe to that of death row.
Several key executives and other employees have started to flee already in search of opportunities elsewhere, given the uncertainty of the landscape once the Disney sale is complete. The deal is expected to close in January and Disney has been very quiet on their plans once that happens. That has left a great many Fox employees to hopelessly wonder about their fate. Certain former Fox employees have found work at companies such as Netflix and Viacom, but once these layoffs kick into high gear, it may not be so easy for others to secure jobs.
Disney will be keeping some key Fox employees in place following the merger. Fox executives Peter Rice and Dana Walden were recently appointed to lead the company's non-sports television operations. Other employees who are expected to have a place within the Disney ranks include Emma Watts, current vice chairman of film and president of production at Fox; Stacey Snider, current 20th Century Fox Chairman and CEO; Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula, co-chairs of Fox Searchlight; and Elizabeth Gabler, current president of Fox 2000. While their new positions haven't been revealed, these employees hold value to Disney in the post-merger landscape.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has stressed the importance of Fox Searchlight, the studio behind movies like the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water. While entities like that may be able to continue on as they always have, much of what will happen after the merger remains very unclear. Will 20th Century Fox continue to operate as its own studio? What of the projects that are already in development? Currently, Fox is in post-production on 10 movies, with several more entering production very soon.
Several key filmmakers, such as Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn, have been contacted by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who has expressed desire to work with them after the merger. It's also expected that there will be more layoffs on the movie side as opposed to the TV side. Things are so bad that last week, the company offered a service to help employees polish resumes. With much of Fox set to basically disappear, it offers less opportunity for those who are fired, as there will basically be one less studio with positions to fill. As good as this may be for Disney, it's clearly not going to be so good for quite a few people working behind the scenes. This news was first reported by Variety.