Update: Well that didn’t take long. CNBC has updated their original story to say that while FOX and Disney have indeed had sale talks over the past few weeks, the two companies aren’t currently communicating, and that a deal is by no means certain. That said, CNBC also acknowledges that sale talks could be revisited in the future. For what it’s worth, FOX stock prices soared upward right after CNBC’s initial report was released.
21st Century FOX is in talks to sell parts of its company to Disney, in a deal that could see movie rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four return to Marvel. One of the parts FOX is looking to sell is the 20th Century FOX movie and TV production studio, which one presumes would include the rights to anything said studio controls, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four superhero teams.
Marvel Studios’ inability to use the X-Men and Fantastic Four – as well as most of their supporting casts – within the MCU franchise has long been a sore spot with Marvel fans, and it didn’t look likely that FOX would ever be inclined to give the film rights to the characters back to Marvel. That could all change if the proposed FOX/Disney sale goes through, as FOX is reportedly looking to come out of said sale as a smaller company focused on news and sports.
According to CNBC’s report, the only major piece of 21st Century FOX’s entertainment operation that Disney wouldn’t be buying if this deal goes through would be the actual FOX broadcast network. Disney already owns ABC, and therefore cannot also own another broadcast network, due to FCC regulations. Disney would also not be buying any of FOX’s cable news or sports channels, the latter due to worries that combining them with Disney-owned ESPN could be seen as a violation of antitrust rules.
While Disney wouldn’t be taking over the FOX broadcast network, the potential sale would reportedly include FOX’s assortment of basic cable entertainment channels, including FX, FXX, and the National Geographic Channel. One wonders what the situation would be going forward for the FOX network lineup, as any show produced by FOX’s TV studio would now be the property of Disney. Perhaps FOX is thinking ahead on this, and plans to make an agreement with Disney to retain broadcast rights to shows like The Simpsons and The X-Files.
If this deal were to finally enable characters like Wolverine, The Thing, and Deadpool to join the MCU, one can only imagine how many amazing crossovers that fans have up until now only dreamed of might become possible going forward. For now though, there is nothing to do but wait and watch the sale talks to see what ultimately transpires.
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