The purchase of Fox by Disney has been voted on by shareholders and cleared the U.S. government, but the merging of the companies won't be instant. For much of 2018 so far, movie and TV lovers watched with anticipation as the bumpy road to Disney buying Fox stretched onward, proving to be as interesting as many a Hollywood production in and of itself. While Disney officially made a $52.8 billion all-stock bid for most of Fox's assets - Fox News and Fox Sports were excluded - in December 2017, that was only the beginning of the saga.
By February, Comcast - whose regulatory filings would eventually reveal had actually outbid Disney initially - got back in the game, and by May, the company was planning to launch a new $60 billion-plus all-cash bid for Fox's assets. In June, following the U.S. government approving the huge merger between AT&T and Time Warner, Comcast decided to strike, making a $65 billion all-cash bid. Disney pretty quickly slammed Mickey's white-gloved fist down on that, coming back to Fox with its own upped $71.3 billion offer that was half stock and half cash. This led Comcast to drop back out of the running once again, and by late July, both Fox shareholders and the U.S. Justice Department had approved the Disney/Fox deal.
So, that should be a done deal, right? Well, in essence it is, but there are still some things to iron out before the two companies actively become one. For starters, the U.S. isn't the only country that matters here. Both Disney and Fox are international enterprises, and thus, regulatory hurdles have to be cleared in multiple other places, including the U.K.. A big part of that revolves around Fox's ownership of Sky Broadcasting, which would transfer to Disney once the merger is finalized.
Additionally, business deals of this magnitude don't just get agreed to, then immediately enacted. To try and do that would be sheer madness, as both companies employ hundreds of thousands of people, in multiple facets of movies, TV, streaming, news, sports, video games, and general telecommunications. The specifics of how each company will proceed post-deal still need to be worked out, along with the unpleasant task of who won't emerge from this situation with their jobs intact.
If the above sounds daunting, that's because it is, and it likely won't be completed until early 2019 at the earliest, with things stretching as far as mid-2019 being a decent possibility. In short, those who can't wait to see the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool join the MCU need to calm down, as Disney and Fox will continue to operate separately until the aforementioned early-mid 2019 timeframe. Wolverine won't be showing up in Avengers 4, and Deadpool isn't going to be quipping away at Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
In fact, assuming Marvel Studios opts to take its time integrating Fox's Marvel characters into its universe, fans can realistically expect not to see them come aboard the MCU train until 2021 or 2022. On the other hand, Fox's current X-Men films remain on track, merger or no merger. Dark Phoenix, New Mutants, and possibly Gambit will all arrive in 2019. There's also no guarantee that Disney will put the kibosh on other in-development projects that are further off, such as Drew Goddard's X-Force film. For Marvel fans, this is truly an interesting time.