Disney will acquire a majority of 21st Century Fox's assets in a highly-anticipated deal announced today, including the rights to a slew of content from Star Wars to Home Alone and M*A*S*H*. The network giants closed a landmark deal this week for $52.4 billion, giving Disney ownership over Fox’s film and television properties.
Of those properties are movies and TV series dating back to 1935, offering massive opportunity for creating successful new blockbusters and redistributing the oldies. With the merger, Disney also gains access to a variety of ongoing movie franchises set up for expansion, as well as some films that have been wrapped up for years, giving the company the choice to reboot some classics. Other films will be ideal fits for Disney’s back catalog, which could be distributed on the company’s upcoming streaming service planned to launch in 2019.
Keep reading to check out every movie franchise Disney has acquired with the Fox merger, plus where they might go from here:
The X-Men franchise acquisition means that nearly all of the MCU characters are fair game for Disney's use in upcoming films. Fox owns the rights to many of Marvel's biggest characters and, over the years, the studio has developed multiple films with those properties. Disney, on the other hand, owns Marvel Studios and, with it, the rights to the majority of characters from the comics.
Together, it seems we'll be seeing a slew of superhero movies coming from Disney's Marvel Studios.
Interestingly, though, Disney is open to the idea of adopting Fox's more mature model for superhero films following the success of non-traditional blockbusters like Deadpool and Logan, according to Iger.
Though fans have been excited about the addition Fantastic Four to the Marvel comics universe, the details of this acquisition are more complicated than others in the deal.
Fox did not own the distribution rights to the franchise; they are owned by Constantin Films, one of the company's typical production partners. The details of the Fox-Constantin contract are not public knowledge, but Disney will likely still get the distribution options Fox previously shared.
Disney already acquired Lucasfilm, but distribution rights for the classic franchise movies had been with Fox.
Under the sale, the company gains possession of the original theatrical versions of Star Wars, before the digitally remastered versions were put out by George Lucas. Previously, the company released remastered versions of every film except A New Hope, which was still controlled by Fox. Now, Disney could release an unaltered original theatrical cut of the first film.
Disney's acquisition of James Cameron's Avatar is one the company will certainly feature in the future. The first Avatar film grossed almost $3 billion in the global box office and Cameron is working on a series of highly-anticipated sequels.
Avatar is also a franchise not foreign to Disney; its Animal Kingdom theme park at Disney World opened an area called Pandora - The World of Avatar this year after CEO Bob Iger announced the project in 2011. He also hinted at a plan to expand Pandora to some of the Mouse's international parks, noting that three-quarters of the film's earnings came overseas.
After Kingsman: The Golden Circle grossed nearly $400 million at the box office worldwide, Fox's newest hit must reveal to Disney the opportunity the franchise presents, forcing the company to pivot slightly from its family-style of production.
As mentioned with the Alien franchise, Disney will likely continue with the wildly-successful Kingsman franchise made by a subsidiary to rake in the profits without tarnishing the main Disney brand. Luckily for fans, a third film is already expected to be in the works.
Even with the declining success of the nearly three-decade Die Hard franchise, Fox had high hopes for the future of the action films. Casting had recently begun for a sixth film in the series, but it's unclear whether Disney will continue moving forward with the current plan or go in a different direction.
As of Thursday, Disney now owns one of the most controversial films of the '90s after it seemed to promote fights and violence across the country. Since Fight Club is worlds away from the House of Mouse's typical content, what will happen to the classic?
If anything, the film would be added to Disney's upcoming streaming service, though it (and a few other newly acquired movies) would force the company to make decisions about the features of its platform. Should films like Fight Club, Alien vs. Predator and Independence Day be included, Disney would need to set up adult verticals of the service with parental controls, both to protect its PG-13 image and to ensure safe watching for families. Should the company choose not to include these more mature films, it could be ditching some serious untapped profits.
Red Sparrow's original film isn't set to release until 2018, but Fox (and now Disney) are already banking on the franchise-to-be.
The mature film is based on a novel by Jason Matthews which follows a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) as a seductive spy. Matthews sold the film rights to Red Sparrow before the book was even published, and he's already contracted for a sequel.
Many of the films Disney acquired with the merger are drastic moves away from its typical family-friendly core content. For Alien fans, it looked bleak for a film return once the franchise was inside the Mouse House, but it may not be the end of the popular sci-fi horror films.
In some instances, Disney has offered more mature projects under subsidiaries like Miramax and Touchstone. With so many adult-centric films being lured into the company, it's probable that a handful of former Fox properties will be reimagined with this approach.
PLANET OF THE APES
The Planet of the Apes franchise has been a long-running success for Fox since the first film release in 1968. In recent years, the prequel trilogy has performed well worldwide, though the latest War for the Planet of the Apes wasn't a hit in the United States.
It's unclear whether Disney will give the franchise another shot at a film release in the future, but the widely-followed films would fit well in an adult vertical of the streaming service if nothing else.
Following 1996’s original Independence Day film, which had been hailed as a sci-fi classic, Fox’s attempt to morph it into a full-on franchise left fans feeling disappointed after the 2016 sequel.
With the second film's flop, Disney will likely use the movies as a streaming play should it develop a vertical for adults and proper parental control settings.
The Martian, based on a novel by Andy Weir, was a glaring success for Fox in 2015. When Weir began work on a second novel, Artemis, Fox quickly gained rights to a film. Those rights presumably now rest with Disney.
Artemis is expected to be another critical and box office success following the unique, fact-based original film. The movie, which already has fans buzzing, is said to be a crime story plaguing a Lunar colony.
THE MAZE RUNNER
Disney won't get a hand in shaping the final part of The Maze Runner franchise, with The Death Cure already slated for release. However, any future installments of the franchise would be an option under the Disney banner.
The popular YA series derived from Greek mythology did alright with he release of its first two installments. However, the second film, Sea of Monsters showed considerable slowdown in profits, so there's no telling if it will be continued.
Another potential gold mine for Disney is the Ice Age franchise, which has grossed more than $6 billion in revenue among its five films.
The movies would be a great fit for the streaming service, but hopes for an Ice Age 6 could certainly become more concrete once the ink dried on the merger deal.
ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS
Alvin, Simon and Theodore will have a smooth transition into the Disney realm, whether the company chooses to pass the singing chipmunks to its animated division for a new film or simply showcase the existing movies on its streaming service. The Mouse could also send the furry bandmates back to their original platform: an animated TV series.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
Disney co-produced the first two Narnia films, but the third was led by Fox. Now, the trio will likely live on the streaming service because author C.S. Lewis' company has already begun work on the next film without either production company.
Instead, The Silver Chair is being made by the Mark Gordon Company, Sony's TriStar Productions and Entertainment One.
Another major opportunity for a kid-centric reboot lies in Doctor Dolittle, a character created by Hugh Lofting nearly a century ago.
The film has been done multiple times, most recently with Eddie Murphy's adaptation in 1998, so Disney only may opt to offer it solely as a streaming choice. Others speculate that the film could be another option for a fresh film that fits in the company's family-focused sweet spot.
In addition to all of the above, Disney will now own an entire library of some classic family-favorite films that were owned by 20th Century Fox:
- Home Alone
- Edward Scissorhands
- Mrs. Doubtfire
- The Beverly Hillbilies
Are there any Fox films you're particularly excited to see land at Disney? Let us know @Comicbook
Be sure to stay tuned to our complete coverage of the Fox/Disney Deal HERE.