Disney and 21st Century Fox re-engage in deal talks, with a decision about whether to pursue the sale potentially arriving by year’s end. The discussions between the two companies – which would see the film rights to the X-Men return to Marvel Studios and allow the mutant heroes and the Fantastic Four to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe – were first reported early in November, but it was then revealed the talks had already fallen through, with Disney and Fox failing to reach a deal. Ever since, there has been a great deal of speculation about whether the two companies would resume talks at some point, or if Fox would sell off some of its assets to a different company; Sony also showed interest in acquiring Fox.
However, earlier this week rumors began to surface that Disney and Fox were again discussing a deal that would see the Mouse House acquire a number of Fox’s assets, which would include the rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, Avatar, and the original six Star Wars‘ distribution rights. That report stated the companies were attempting to keep their discussions quiet as they got closer to striking a deal, indicating the public wouldn’t know how close they were until the deal had already been made. However, a new report offers an update on those discussions.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that Disney and Fox have indeed resumed discussions of a possible deal for the former to acquire a number of assets from the latter. The talks include the 20th Century Fox movie and TV branch of 21st, as well as Fox’s stake in various companies like UK satellite TV provider Sky and Hulu. According to the WSJ, Rupert Murdoch and his family expect to make a decision about the sale by the end of the year (leaving them little less than a month).
The ramifications of a potential Disney and Fox deal could have far-reaching consequences, some that aren’t even clear yet. If Disney were to acquire Fox’s share in Hulu, the company would own a majority stake in the streaming service, but it’s unclear if that would affect Disney’s plans to launch their own streaming service – though it has been reported that part of the Mouse House’s motivation for this deal is to gain a bigger foothold in streaming and rival Netflix.
Additionally, with three X-Men films currently set for release in 2018 – and even more beyond that in various stages of development – it remains to be seen how Marvel would unite the separate franchises or if they’d remain separate for a time. Certainly, many have speculated the X-Men could join the MCU in Phase 4, and since Marvel has kept their plans after Avengers 4 under wraps, they may already be considering that future. For her part, X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner is game to join the MCU, especially since she previously worked with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige.
Still, while fans may be excited by the prospect of Wolverine and Professor X finally joining the same cinematic universe as the Avengers, it’s unclear how the deal would affect X-Men movie series like Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth’s creator, Rob Liefeld penned a letter to Fox, pleading for the company to cease talks with Disney, presumably because he’s worried about the Mouse House’s influence on the live-action Wade Wilson. Of course, exactly what comes of the deal between Disney and Fox – if it actually goes through – remains to be seen. Until we have official word, the ramifications of such a deal are largely speculation.
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