Walt Disney Studios will reportedly take over the development of the Avatar and X-Men movie franchises following the downsizing of 20th Century Fox after the impending acquisition completes. Last year, Disney made a bid to acquire 21st Century Fox's movie and TV assets - including studios such as 20th Century Fox Television, FX Networks, and more - for just over $52 billion. But a bidding war with Comcast forced them to up their bid to a whopping $71.3 billion in cash and stock. Fox later agreed to the offer, and the acquisition is now well underway.
Until the acquisition is completed, both 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios (including Marvel Studios) have to operate as normal, as if the buyout wasn't happening at all, which is part of the gun-jumping rules enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice. But that doesn't mean both studios can't have ideas for what will happen to their properties post-acquisition. While Marvel Studios fans are excited the X-Men and Fantastic Four movie rights will return to Marvel Entertainment, there are a host of other properties on the table that may not get the same welcoming.
WSJ reports that the 20th Century Fox movie studio will be "significantly downsized" following Disney's acquisition, which is why the Mouse House will most likely take over the development of the Avatar and X-Men movie franchises, considering that those two properties are their biggest films at the moment. This would likely be different than how Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios operate under Walt Disney Studios. What's more, the rest of Fox's properties may be shelved if they don't fit within Disney's scope of strictly making "family-friendly, franchise-focused" movies. Unfortunately, that happens to be the vast majority of 20th Century Fox films.
While 20th Century Fox has its fair share of franchises under its belt - Alien, Predator, Planet of the Apes, etc. - they're primarily known as a studio that isn't averse to taking risks, which is why Disney is so keen on keeping Fox Searchlight in business after the buyout goes through. For instance, Fox studios received 27 nominations at the 2018 Oscars, including for all the top categories (and the won in many), whereas Disney received 10, most of which were in technical categories outside of animation. Since Fox Searchlight accounted for 20 of those 27 nominations, it makes sense why Disney wants to keep them going, but they may not feel the same way about producing and/or distributing the next Life of Pi or The Revenant, or even something like Star Wars (if it wasn't already the biggest franchise on the planet; Disney did reject George Lucas' original film).
It makes sense, though, for Disney to want to capitalize on as many properties as possible. It's only since they switched focus and acquired two blockbuster production companies that Disney has crawled its way to the top of the all-time box office charts in recent years, after first experiencing multiple box office bombs that resulted in their studio chief being fired. Avatar and X-Men movies are guaranteed successes at this point, so it's understandable that Disney would want to oversee future development on those franchises, but when it comes to the next Alien movie, fans shouldn't hold their breaths. After all, Disney isn't even willing to give National Treasure 3 a green light after all this time - and the first two movies were incredibly successful for the studio.
- Avatar 2 (2021) release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Avatar 3 (2023) release date: Dec 22, 2023
- Avatar 4 (2025) release date: Dec 19, 2025
- Avatar 5 (2027) release date: Dec 17, 2027
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020