If Marvel were to obtain the theatrical rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, could they even handle it? The Walt Disney Company was recently mulling the idea of acquiring 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV divisions, namely 20th Century Fox and 20th Century Fox Television. In doing so, Marvel Entertainment would regain the movie rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, which have been licensed out to the Fox studio since the ’90s.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven that Marvel Studios is more than capable of producing their own live-action films. Although they started off slow, the studio has typically released two MCU movies per year since 2011 (with 2012 being the sole exception). And in 2017 they’ve moved up to three superhero blockbuster releases per anum. That’s evidently proven successful, but if fans are expecting an acquisition of the X-Men or Fantastic Four to up the ante further, they may be out of luck.
Walt Disney Pictures is one of Hollywood’s Big Six studios and their film slate has increased exponentially in the years since acquiring Lucasfilm and Marvel Entertainment, as well as pushing forward with live-action (or CGI) remakes and re-imaginings of their classic fairy tale movies. For instance, Disney released eight films in 2008 (not all of which were major tentpoles), wheras in 2018, they have five major films – A Wrinkle in Time, The Incredibles 2, Christopher Robin, The Nutcracker, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, and Mary Poppins Returns – in addition to Lucasfilm’s Han Solo: A Star Wars Story and Marvel’s Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and The Wasp, not to mention their vastly expanded television slate.
The Mouse House is no longer making smaller projects but is rather shelling out billions of dollars in developing major blockbuster films that release year-round. So, if they were to get the rights to certain characters, that doesn’t mean they would make more movies, especially with their current lineup – even if they could. Plus, Marvel’s plans to explore the less-covered cosmic side of the MCU post-Phase 3 may also curb acceleration on potential X-Men and Fantastic Four movies (that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for their inclusion in the MCU).
In fact, considering how successful shows such as Legion and The Gifted have been, it’s possible Marvel Studios would hypothetically opt for adapting the X-Men and Fantastic Four on the small screen, rather than delaying (or shelving) some of their other projects just to get them onto the big screen. After all, the Disney-owned studio set a precedent by adapting Daredevil onto Netflix (after reacquiring the rights from Fox) and Ghost Rider on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (after reacquiring the rights from Sony/Columbia Pictures).
If there’s any studio that could release more comic book movies per year without breaking the bank, it’s Disney, but they would really only be cannibalizing their own market by doing so – and that’s not good business.
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