Disney's purchase of Fox means the X-Men can join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that wasn't the motivating factor for the Mouse House. Today, Disney officially bought 20th Century Fox for $52.4 billion, effectively changing the face of the Hollywood landscape. While we won't see the full ramifications for this deal for some time, one thing's for certain: many Marvel fans will be overjoyed at the number of characters coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including any number of the X-Men.
However, it's important to note that while this is a promising and fruitful incentive for Disney, the rights to the X-Men aren't the real reason behind the deal. It all boils down to the constantly changing media landscape, and who has the most powerful streaming service. Disney's acquisition of Fox not only brings new characters into the fold for their MCU, but it also brings lucrative Fox films to offer as a real competition on the forthcoming Disney streaming service. There was talk for a while that Disney would buy Netflix, and even a short-lived deal that gave Netflix exclusive rights to stream Disney content. But as streaming services became more and more commonplace, it's easy to see how Disney wanted to get in on the action, and craft their very own streaming service. If Disney wants to put up any sort of competition with Netflix, especially after they announced they would pull Disney content by 2019, this is the smartest way to do it.
At the end of the day, content is the reason behind everything. Peter Csathy, chairman of CREATV Media put it simply, saying “Content is the weapon of choice in this over-the-top game. Crafty Disney can use content offensively and defensively. It can withhold its treasure trove of content and characters … from Netflix, or use some of the biggest brands in the world, the biggest franchises — Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, now maybe X-men is another one — to its advantage.” With this merger, they will own a lot of Hollywood going forward. In addition to the previous X-Men films, Disney has also snagged huge blockbusters Avatar and Deadpool, and the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Ice Age franchises for the little kiddos. Plus a whole slew of other films to capture the adult interest with Planet of the Apes, The Revenant, Birdman, The Martian, Kingsman and even Alien.
On top of the film acquisitions, Avatar is now an even more lucrative property, which might be surprising. But all opinions aside, Avatar still holds the record for the highest grossing film of all time at over $2 billion. James Cameron is now deep in the oceans of Pandora, working on several Avatar sequels that Disney seems to bet will make just as money in the future. It doesn't hurt that they've decided to immerse Avatar fans in Pandora with the Pandora: The World of Avatar experience at Disney World in Orlando, which opened earlier this year. When James Cameron eventually returns from the (figurative) oceanic depths to present his Avatar sequels, we'll begin to see how this part of the deal shapes out for Disney.
All in all, this merger changes a lot of things, almost everything. But the base of this deal really lands on Disney doubling down on their streaming content, and streamlining where people can find all of it. As far as the streaming content goes, it's likely we won't see how much everything changes for at least a year, while they continue to work on the Disney streaming service. We should expect to see more Disney content on Hulu, as they now hold the majority 30% of Hulu's shares. Either way, we should get used to seeing the Walt Disney logo on just about everything now, as Supreme Ruler Mickey realizes his own sort of manifest destiny.