It’s official: The Walt Disney Company now owns 21st Century Fox and its many assets. The massive Disney-Fox deal has been a little over 16 months in the making, and it’s created as many hype-filled headlines as it has raised major industry-wide concerns. For a while, it seemed like Comcast may take over from the House of Mouse after they offered $65 billion in cash for Fox, but that didn’t stop Disney. Now, the paperwork has been signed and the acquisition has taken place. As of March 20, 21st Century Fox is now a Disney subsidiary after a whopping $71.3 billion offer.
Disney, already one of the most powerful and beloved media entities on the planet, now has near unprecedented control over the entertainment industry, with most experts predicting the acquisition will give them a massive 40% share over the worldwide box office. They’ve already been majority mainstays of the annual lists of the highest grossing movies of any given year (in 2016, for example, 50% of the top 10 highest-grossing films were Disney titles). Now, their might is near indomitable, and that’s only in the world of cinema. The acquisition has also given them major clout in the worlds of television and streaming, not to mention the enviable might of their increased catalog of intellectual properties.
Considering that 20th Century Fox is one of the oldest studios in Hollywood, their library is extensive and the number of studios under 21st Century Fox means that Disney now has control of some of the biggest properties in film and TV history. What they do with those properties remains to be seen, but they have a lot more at their fingertips now than they ever did before.
- This Page: Fox Movie Studios & TV Networks Disney Now Owns
- Page 2: Everything Else Disney Owns & Fox Assets They Didn't Acquire
- Page 3: How The Disney-Fox Deal Affects Marvel, Star Wars, & Hollywood
Fox Movie Studios Disney Now Owns
The film studio 20th Century Fox is one of Hollywood's most enduring institutions. The company was founded in 1935 after Twentieth Century Pictures, founded by Joseph Schenck and Darryl F. Zanuck (formerly of Warner Bros.) merged with Fox Film. Both studios had been struggling financially and the deal was seen as a way for them to strengthen their might against competitors like MGM and Warner Bros. By the time the company was bought by Mr. Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. in 1985, 20th Century Fox was responsible for some of the most profitable films ever made, including the biggest film of all time in 1977 - Star Wars. In 2012, Murdoch, whose own assets, including publishing, newspapers, animation, and much more, announced that News Corp. would be split into two companies: News Corporation would focus on newspapers and publishing, while 21st Century Fox would operate the entertainment and film side of things.
By the time Disney entered the picture, Fox had built up an impressive foundation of cinematic power. 20th Century Fox as a studio is responsible for some of the most critically and commercially successful films of the past few decades. The franchises they have under their umbrella make up some of the biggest names in pop culture, from Alien and Predator to Planet of the Apes, Kingsman, Independence Day, the first six Star Wars movies, Avatar, Die Hard, and way too many others to count. In terms of film history, Fox’s status is secured, with the two highest grossing films ever - Avatar and Titanic - coming from their studio, and that doesn’t even get into the Marvel properties under Fox’s label, which includes Deadpool, X-Men, and Fantastic Four. Since 1937, the studio has garnered 78 Best Picture Oscar nominations and 12 wins. Four of those wins came from Fox's most prestigious divisions, Fox Searchlight, now also under the Disney banner.
Fox Searchlight Pictures was founded in 1994 and immediately established itself as one of the premiere distributors of independent cinema. Over the past decade, they have become one of the go-to places for films looking for awards glory, thanks to prize winning hits like Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Black Swan, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, and Brooklyn. Over the past two years, they were responsible, either in part or fully, for Oscar favorites like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and The Favourite. The fate of Fox Searchlight was one of the most feared aspects of this acquisition for film fans. Before the deal went through, producer J. Miles Dale, while giving a speech at the Critics' Choice Awards, urged Disney "not to mess" with the studio, adding, "they're making the kind of movies that we need to make, we want to make, and people need to see."
Other studios under the Fox banner include 20th Century Fox Animation and Zero Day Fox (formerly Fox Digital Studios), which is designed to create content for digital platforms and streaming services, as well as Fox 2000, which recently distributed Love, Simon and The Hate U Give. Unfortunately, Disney has already confirmed that they will be closing down Fox 2000.
Fox TV Studios & Networks Now Owned by Disney
On top of their mighty film industry purchases, the acquisition has given Disney immense control over the world of television. The acquisition comprises the entirety of Fox Television Group’s assets, which includes 20th Century Fox Television, a company that's been operating since 1949, long before they had their own network. Some of the most historically notable Fox TV shows of the past few decades include M*A*S*H, LA Law, and, of course, The Simpsons, which is still on the air today, not to mention Modern Family. Crucially, the acquisition does not include ownership of the FOX channel itself, because that would be illegal under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules because Disney already owns ABC.
That’s not to say their might is diminished by this problem. They may not own the network itself but they own the studio producing most of their shows. The acquisition does give them ownership of some Fox networks, however, the most notable being FX. The cable network has become one of the top figures in the modern age of "peak TV" thanks to shows like American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Legion, Atlanta, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The acquisition also gives Disney the 73% controlling stake Fox owned in National Geographic Partners, which oversees the various National Geographic channels as well as the much celebrated magazine.