Disney-Fox merger is official, studios regroup

A whole new world officially begins today for Disney and Fox.

The Walt Disney Company’s $71.3-billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios and other assets including Fox’s 30 percent stake in Hulu officially closed after the clock struck midnight Wednesday morning.

Fox emerges from the deal, which Disney won in a heated bidding war with Comcast, as a streamlined company focusing on live news and sports – it maintains the Fox network, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, as well as sports networks FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network, and its 28 local TV stations.

Fox Sports’ 22 regional networks are in the process of being sold-off by Disney as part of the company’s deal with regulators to gain approval for the merger. One network, the Yankees’ YES Network, was already sold for roughly $3.5 billion to a group led by the baseball team and included Amazon and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

The new Disney comes out of the transaction as a box office and entertainment behemoth, with a kingdom that includes its owns studios – its live-action arm has Dumbo (March 29) and Aladdin (May 24) on the way – along with the Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel brands and now Fox’s movie studio, which includes the Avatar, X-Men and Deadpool franchises, and FX cable network.

Actor Ryan Reynolds celebrated the deal’s consummation Tuesday, tweeting a picture of the title character he portrays in the Deadpool films wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears on a bus headed to Disney. “Feels like the first day of ‘Pool,” he tweeted.

Feels like the first day of ‘Pool. pic.twitter.com/QVy8fCxgqr

— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) March 19, 2019

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Disney dominance to hit new heights

Already commanding a lion’s share of the box office, Disney will be even more dominant with Fox’s studios on board. Disney owns about 30 percent of the U.S. box office and will hold about 40 percent when Fox is folded in, The Hollywood Reporter estimates. 

Powered by hits such as Black Panther, The Incredibles 2, and Avengers: Infinity War, Disney set a domestic box office record of $3 billion in 2018, according to Deadline. Add in Fox, which earned $1.227 billion, and the combined studio would have raked in $4.25 billion in the U.S. and “a massive” $10.2 billion globally, the site said.

Disney’s goal is to be a dominant player not only at the box office but also on broadband. It has a Disney+ subscription streaming service scheduled to launch later this year that will be anchored by its own Disney brand, along with Pixar, Marvel, the Star Wars franchises as well as National Geographic, which it acquired in the Fox deal. 

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