The Disney-Fox deal comes closer to reality with today's announcement that China's regulators have given the deal their seal of approval. This marks a big win for Disney, considering the massive successes of Disney-owned cinematic franchises like Marvel in China, not to mention Shanghai's Disney Resort, which launched in 2016. Pending further regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close in January 2019.
The acquisition was first proposed in December 2017, sparking controversy about imposing further monopoly on the entertainment industry by consolidating another two of its biggest players. Disney stood to gain 40 percent of the U.S. box office market under the deal, and ended up in a bidding with Comcast, who eventually withdrew. Following the Department of Justice's sign off on the proposal, Disney and Fox's major shareholders voted to approve the deal in July. This week, the European regulatory commission gave their thumbs ups, and Disney signaled that in addition to Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, National Geographic (a Fox property) will be available for the launch of their streaming service Disney Plus. At this point, the $71.3 billion dollar deal looks all but finalized.
Despite some wariness related to Donald Trump's ongoing trade disputes with China, Variety reports that regulators have cleared the Disney-Fox deal. Both companies have seen a positive ripple effect from the announcement in the stock market with their shares rising .77 percent and 3 percent respectively.
For Disney, this means expecting film grosses for all the Fox franchises that have been huge hits in China, such as Avatar, which just wrapped production on its sequel, and is expected to spawn a multiple-picture series. All 20th Century Fox properties (and stocks) are expected to be transferred to Disney, except for a selection of 21st Century Fox news, sports and business properties, which will form an independent separation agreement.
For Disney's competitors, the closing deal means re-doubling efforts to keep viewers engaged at the box office and at home, considering Disney is gaining control of dependable film and TV draws like X-Men, Deadpool, American Horror Story, and Family Guy. Although Netflix will maintain control of its Marvel Television original series, Disney Plus will have the streaming rights for all upcoming MCU films, including Captain Marvel and Avengers 4. With this deal coming to close behind the controversial AT&T and Time Warner merger, it may be some time before another major deal is proposed among the entertainment industry. On the other hand, the stakes to absorb more distribution companies and property rights between the existing big players may go even higher.