With Disney’s acquisition of Fox all but confirmed, the truly dark side-effects of this monumental deal have come under scrutiny. In December 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to acquire 21st Century Fox for around $52 billion in stock. This deal would give them control over some of the most iconic and historical assets in the modern American entertainment industry, including 20th Century Fox's film and TV studios, the Fox Networks Group and its assorted cable networks such as FX, and stakes in National Geographic and Hulu. After fending off competition from Comcast, Disney upped their bid for Fox to a staggering $71.3 billion, with the acquisition being approved by shareholders on July 27th, 2018. The deal could be fully confirmed by June 2019.
Much has been written on the seismic impact the Disney-Fox acquisition will have on the entertainment industry and international media as a whole. Disney were already one of the most powerful media entities on the planet, having built up a sizeable fortune over the decades off the backs of their iconic image and the tenets of Walt Disney himself. Over the last ten years or so, their profits have exploded thanks to their purchases of major pop culture properties like Marvel and Star Wars, ensuring their undisputed domination of the worldwide box office. For the past three years running, Disney has had more films in the worldwide top ten highest-grossing films than any other studio.
The Fox deal will not only give Disney film rights to the X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four franchises - almost completing the Marvel line-up - but control over major properties like Alien, Avatar, and The Simpsons, to name but three. It will also give them the majority stake in streaming service Hulu and stakes in studios internationally, such as Fox India. The merger of these two movie giants could give Disney an unprecedented 40% control over the worldwide box office.
This is a level of power and industry-wide influence that has been widely criticized since the acquisition was first announced. Many industry experts warned of the negative consequences of a media monopoly on this scale and although the magnitude of it may not be fully evident until all the paperwork is signed, we are seeing the first rumblings of change happening and the signs aren’t good.
- This Page: How The Disney Purchase Immediately Impacts Fox
- Page 2: How The Disney Purchase Of Fox Changes How You See Movies
- Page 3: Media Monopolies Are Bad For Businesses & Audiences
The Disney-Fox Deal Means Major Job Losses
During mergers, job losses are inevitable, and when the companies involved are on the scale of Disney and Fox, it's safe to say that industry experts were predicting something of a bloodbath for Fox employees. An October 2018 article from The Hollywood Reporter cited claims from Fox executives that "generous severance" would be offered to those soon-to-be-laid-off workers, but no indication at the time was given as to how many layoffs were expected. Former CEO of 20th Century Fox Film Stacey Snider noted in an interview with Variety how stressful this situation was for the many Fox employees whose job security was at risk for "a whole year".
Numbers vary on how many employees will lose their jobs after the merger. In an ominously titled piece in The Hollywood Reporter that referred to the merger as "making 21st Century Fox disappear", the number given was 4000 layoffs from a base of 22,000 employees worldwide (Disney, by comparison, has about 201,000 employees worldwide). However, even they say that number may be a conservative prediction, and cite "Disney-skeptic" analyst Rich Greenfield who puts the number anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000.
Layoffs on this scale won’t happen all at once. They’ll be staggered across weeks or even months to make the extent of the damage seem lessened (a common tactic with businesses, as evidenced by the recent layoffs at Buzzfeed, which took several days). That’s a long time for those employees to wait to find out their fate, and it’s a disastrous step for the industry at large to put so many people out of work. The human cost of such business decisions is oft-overlooked during reporting, which much of the focus on fizzier stories like what films will be made next, but with thousands of people about to be unemployed and one less studio available for them to work at, this merger will have an immediately negative impact that goes far beyond the supposed upsides.