It’s Done: Disney-Fox Asset Acquisition in Effect Today

As Tony Stark mentioned in the first teaser released for “Avengers: Endgame” next month, “Part of the journey is the end.” An epic journey began in December of 2017 when Disney announced its bid to buy the major media assets of 21st Century Fox. On Wednesday midnight, said journey ended.

Effective 12:02 AM (ET) of March 20, entities such as 20th Century Fox, Fox TV Group, National Geographic, Fox Networks, stakes in Endemol and Hulu and more, are now merged with the larger umbrella of Disney. That not bad for an acquisition value of $71.3 billion, even as the remnants of 21st Century Fox is now reorganizing into Fox Corp.

Analysts from Wall Street agree that the megadeal goes a long way in providing Disney with more media content, especially as it primes to launch its exclusive digital streaming platform Disney+. Marvel fans might be gladdened to know that the film rights for “X-Men” can potentially be transferred by Disney from Fox to Marvel Studios, reuniting the two major labels of the superhero publishing brand.

In a press release, Disney CEO Bob Iger named the newly-finalized Fox acquisition as an “extraordinary and historic” moment, adding, “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

And as seen above, the header image for the official Walt Disney Company website now includes Fox franchises in the image montage: “Simpsons,” James Cameron’s “Avatar” and “Deadpool” among others. Speaking of Deadpool, despite the R-rating of its Fox films starring Ryan Reynolds, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is sure that the Merc with a Mouth still has a place for himself in the MCU.

While many are celebrating the conclusion of the asset merging, none perhaps can approach the hilarity level of actor Reynolds himself, posting his impression of how great it is to have his character under Disney.

The first few months following the megadeal going through will be spent integrating the new Disney subsidiaries in the greater organization, as well as addressing the inevitable layoffs that will take place in its wake.

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Marvel Studios Head Gives Blanket Name to First 3 Phases of the MCU Franchise

It can’t be stressed enough how next month’s Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Avengers: Endgame” can be considered a storyline ending. It’ll wrap up most ongoing plot threads and myth arcs from this and the previous 21 films of the franchise. Ever since Thanos appeared in the last MCU Phase 1 installment, “Avengers,” this was expected.

In the latest issue of Empire Magazine devoted to “Endgame” and the conclusion of this initial MCU narrative, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige revealed he has an overarching name to give the 22 MCU films from 2008’s “Iron Man” to “Avengers: Endgame” this coming April.

He’s denoting MCU Phases 1 to 3 as the “Infinity Saga” of the franchise, which isn’t much of a surprise. While not all the films in the era involved the cosmic-bending Infinity Stones sought by Josh Brolin’s Thanos, they were the driving force in many of the previous movies’ plots (in different, alternate forms even).

Feige notes that calling the first 22 MCU films as the Infinity Saga collectively also helps in establishing finite durations for the franchise’s arcs. “Harry Potter had an ending because there were only so many books,” he explains. “Lord of the Rings, too. But we thought, 22 movies in, wouldn’t it be fun to bring some finality to the storyline?”

Real-life considerations might also factor into the saga branding. Many of the top stars for the Phase 1-3 MCU films will be bowing out after “Endgame,” necessitating perhaps new characters to become the faces of the franchise, like Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel.” She could perhaps front the MCU following the departure of the likes of Robert “Tony Stark” Downey Jr. and Chris “Steve Rogers” Evans.

Whatever the case, “Avengers: Endgame” is premiering on April 16. Don’t miss it to catch one ending of the MCU’s Infinity Saga. Worry not, the franchise will continue with new adventures when Phase 4 begins.

MCU’s “Black Widow” Film Project to Potentially Cast Florence Hugh

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to take even more shape after July’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” Aside from recently announced films (and the return of a director), new casting additions have been made for long-discussed projects. In particular, a potential “Black Widow” solo movie may have just gotten an antagonist character.

Variety reports that Marvel Studios may have started discussion with actress Florence Pugh for a role in the “Black Widow” movie starring Scarlett Johansson. Her potential casting appears to have gone full circle, as she was among the first names to be dropped for the “second lead” role to Johansson, but was kept on the back burner while Marvel Studios considered other possible candidates, before ultimately setting back on her.

The decision to take on Pugh may have been due to positive reviews for her lead outing in “Fighting My Family” from MGM. She also has prior experience playing a spy of sorts in BBC and AMC’s “The Little Drummer Girl.” Scant notes about the probable plot of “Black Widow” would have Pugh’s role be that of a rival agent to Romanov, if the movie being a prequel rings true.

Jac Schaeffer has been tapped to write the story for MCU’s “Black Widow” delving into the origins of SHIELD operative Natasha Romanov, who in her original comic book source began as a Soviet KGB agent. Florence Pugh might portray Yelena Belova, a post-Soviet Russian spy that trained in the facility that produced Romanov and also used the Black Widow moniker.

Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland will direct the movie, which might be released as part of MCU Phase 4 but with no definitive premiere date yet.

Disney World to Create Commemorative Bricks for to-be-Dismantled “Walk Around the World” Attraction, for Original Sponsors and Collectors

Sometimes there are ways to gain from a loss. Walt Disney World seems to think so with their plans for the personalized hexagonal decorative bricks at the Disney’s “Walk Around the World” attraction in Magic Kingdom theme park. These bricks were sponsored by guests when they were installed years ago, and while they’e being removed those sponsors will be able to claim commemorative replicas.

Disney World is thus opening Commemorative Brick Kiosks at Magic Kingdom as well as Disney Springs, to both facilitate old sponsors in redeeming commemorative versions of the Walk Around the World bricks, as well as to print blank bricks with customizable text for interested buyers.

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Verified sponsors of Disney’s Walk Around the World bricks from years ago will be given a one-time-use voucher (or code if done online at shopDisney.com) with which to purchase a commemorative 6-inch hexagonal brick for $10 plus tax this spring.

Non-sponsors on the other hand can proceed to the Commemorative Brick Kiosks in Magic Kingdom’s Tommorowland Light & Power Co., or Disney Springs’ Marketplace Co-Op. There they’ll find a special digital printing service that’ll print blank commemorative bricks with their choice of logos, personalized names or special occasion and date.

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It should be noted that collectors will have limited customization options compared to the Walk Around the World sponsors. Non-sponsor commemorative bricks can range from 6 inches at $29.99, 8 inches at $49.99, and the coming-soon ornament ($24.99), all with tax to be added. This opportunity for keeping a remembrance of “Walk Around the World” lasts only until August 31.

Points for Discussion Regarding the Season 1 Finale of “Star Wars Resistance” on Disney Channel and XD

Last Sunday, the inaugural season of “Star Wars Resistance” had its finale on Disney Channel and Disney XD. It was certainly an action-packed temporary farewell to the Aces team of the Colossus Platform as they finally openly stand against the First Order. It was also an ending to some important relationships as characters cement their alignments on two opposing factions.

Here’s a list of discussion points regarding the two-part “Resistance” season finale “No Escape.” The first part of the episode aired back in March 10:

  1. Major plot tie-in to the 2015 sequel film “The Force Awakens,” as First Order General Hux denounces the New Republic by having Starkiller Base destroy the Republic capital on the Hosnian System. Among the numerous lives lost is the family of Resistance spy Kaz Xiono.
  2. Following the imprisonment of most of Team Fireball, the Aces and Commander Doza, Kaz leads his remaining allies to find a way to escape from Colossus. The solution: the platform itself, revealed to be a giant spaceship long concealed underwater.
  3. That realization plays into how the Colossus people begin to systematically remove First Order Stormtroopers from the place. Through quick decoy play they trick the troopers into sections that can be flooded, flushing them out into the ocean where the monster fishes eat their fill.
  4. First Order Agent Tierney has completely brought over Fireball mechanic Tam Ryvora, who willingly joins them and becomes hostile to her former friends. Since her only reference to the First Order’s predecessor the Empire, is her very kind factory worker grandfather, Tam supports their successors.
  5. After most of the season being spent in starfighter races, the Aces finally get into all-out combat with First Order TIE Fighters. Even ex-Imperial Griff Halloran seems genuinely invested in protecting Colossus from them. More aerial combat ensues and Kaz saves Jarek Yeagar by shooting down Vonreg in a dogfight.
  6. Space pirates have been the initial antagonists for the Colossus’ Aces before the First Order arrived. This time around they return to help their erstwhile victims against the TIEs. Granted, they have their own beef against the First Order, but a new alliance forms here.
  7. The appearance of a Star Destroyer forces the Colossus crew to fall back and escape into hyperspace. Their planned destination is the planet D’Qar, headquarters of the Resistance. Unfortunately the entered coordinates were incomplete, ensuring the Colossus will reappear somewhere else in the Galaxy. And in any case, the Resistance would ultimately abandon D’Qar as of “The Last Jedi” anyway.

“Star Wars Resistance” season two premieres this fall on Disney Channel and XD. It’ll be close to the cinematic arrival of “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

James Gunn Rehired to Direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

One factor for the unlikely box-office success of 2014 MCU film “Guardians of the Galaxy” can be attributed perhaps to the inspired direction of James Gunn. He was able to repeat that triumph with the 2017 sequel, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Unfortunately, work on a “Vol. 3” was stalled by some unfortunate circumstances.

When social media in 2018 floated old tweets (2008-2012) by Gunn, filled with jokes regarding touchy subjects like rape and pedophilia, Disney cut ties with him. This action upset MCU and “Guardians” fans even as he was hired by Warner-DC to pen a script for a possible “Suicide Squad” sequel/reboot.

Ultimately however, as CNN tells it, Disney decided to take James Gunn back. On Friday, March 15, Marvel Studios has reinstated him ad director for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” a possible installment in the upcoming Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

This is great news for fans of more adventures by Star-Lord and friends. Gunn had already finished a script for “Vol. 3” before he was fired in July 2018. Disney-Marvel decided not to actively pursue a replacement director and event moved back the film’s production to 2021. Now, development could pick up from the break.

But not immediately; Gunn is already committed to working on the new “Suicide Squad” film for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. He will be resuming work on “Guardians” afterwards, though Disney has given no further comment beyond confirming Gunn’s reinstatement.

The initial axing of Gunn from Marvel Studios was met with criticism by fans and pushback from both “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast members and sympathetic celebrities. It was pointed out that the director’s old offensive tweets were recovered by ultraconservatives in retaliation for Gunn’s criticism of US President Donald Trump, and that Disney’s action was caving to political pressure.

Both “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Vol. 2” combined earned Disney-Marvel a $1.6 billion take in the international box office.

Resort Hotels in Disney World Soon to Offer Mermaid Swimming Lessons for Age 4 and Up

“Mermaiding” in this day and age can mean either portraying artistically as a mermaid with costume tail, or swimming underwater like a mermaid with said tail. The performance aspect started in the early 20th Century, with the hobby and activity aspect starting up in the 1980s, even before Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” arrived in cinemas.

Still, the Disney animated classic was a big contributor to the eventual mermaiding subculture. And Walt Disney World looks to be harnessing some of that “Little Mermaid” magic for their summer 2019 special offer at four of their resort hotels.

“Mermaid School” will soon be available to participate in for Disney World guests who are staying at the Art of Animation Resort, Caribbean Beach Resort, Yacht Club Resort, and Beach Club Resort. Booking for this special swimming activity class starts mid-March, and will accept students four years old and above.

These resort hotels’ Mermaid School classes will be held twice a week on specific days: Art of Animation Resort will have theirs on Sundays and Thursdays; the Caribbean Beach Resort on Wednesdays and Fridays; both Beach Club and Yacht Club resorts will share their Mermaid classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Disney World’s Mermaid school starts at 8 AM and lasts for an hour. Participants will be taught how to swim like Ariel and other mermaids. In addition, all will be fitted with their own swimming-tail suits in their size as part of the package, which is worth $50 per head.

The Mermaid School classes are brought to Disney World in cooperation with the Florida-based Mermaid Academy, which offers mermaiding lessons and also manufactures swimming tails. These tails will also be offered for sale during Mermaid School sessions at Disney World.

For more information on this, should you be staying at the hotels mentioned above during your Disney World trip, you can visit their official blog to enroll, or call 407-WDW-PLAY.

Points of Discussion for Latest “Avengers: Endgame Trailer”

The Disney umbrella is busting out cinematic trailers like nobody’s business this week. Mere days after Disney Pictures itself sort of “redeemed” scary blue-skinned Will Smith by releasing a longer trailer for “Aladdin,” now we have another for their next Marvel Studios blockbuster, “Avengers: Endgame.”

While the previous teasers have focused on the current events of the MCU following “Avengers: Infinity War,” this trailer decides to dip in the past. In doing so it reminds viewers that “Endgame” is going to resolve myth elements of the first ten years of the saga, and the 21 films that came before. Let’s go list some trailer stuff that makes for good discussion.

  1. Reminders of the past: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in his last recording to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) talks of his origin story. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) recalls his “Winter Soldier” conversation with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Thor (Chris Hemsworth) remembers his father Odin and his home Asgard.
  2. How did Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) go from secret agent archer to samurai-like vigilante? A seeming flashback with his daughter from “Age of Ultron” seems to be a hint; said daughter even visually resembles the second/female Hawkeye (named Kate Bishop) from the source comic books. And vigilante-Clint has a Mohawk.
  3. Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) does get out of the Quantum Realm (from “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) as seen in one of the previous teasers. He’s seeing a lot of missing posters in his neighborhood. Did something happen to his family?
  4. Steve’s recently meme-worthy line: “I keep telling everybody they should move on. Some do; but not us.” To this, Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) adds the following, “Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to anyone who’s not in this room to try.”
  5. The surviving Avengers and other heroes prepare for their rematch against Thanos (Josh Brolin) in their own way; at least the ones on Earth are.
  6. Eventually, Tony’s own group of stranded space survivors makes it to Earth. And they go off to find Thanos wearing identical uniform spacesuits. These were spoiled in official LEGO sets.
  7. Post-titles, Thor tests Carol Danvers/Captan Marvel (Brie Larson) by summoning his Stormbreaker axe close to her head. She doesn’t react; he approves of her nerve.

“Avengers: Endgame” premieres April 26.

Possible “Episode IX” Subtitle Reveal or Teaser at Chicago’s “Star Wars Celebration” Next Month

We’re now in the third month of 2019 with the ninth “Star Wars” film waiting this December. As you know, they still haven’t revealed the subtitle for this grand conclusion. After all, the Sequel Trilogy of Episodes VII-IX will bring a definite end toe Skywalker Family saga according to Lucasfilm.

No subtitle and no teaser. What should we expect with this, following the brutal “plot subversions” from “The Last Jedi”? CNET has it that a wait for answers might not take long now. A Twitter post from the official page of the “Star Wars Celebration” event in Chicago, hints at info from a major source.

Said source is J.J. Abrams, director of “Episode VII – The Force Awakens” and now of “Episode IX.” Abrams will be part of a movie panel during Star Wars Celebration on April 12. The tweet description boasted that this is the panel “Star Wars” fans have waited for. So foreboding, much?

While Disney itself hasn’t said anything regarding the “Star Wars: Episode IX” panel description on the Star Wars Celebration tweet, for the fans on social media this is the clouds of mystery parting. All bets are that Abrams will do a title reveal on his panel, or introduce teaser footage. Or both as others believe.

J.J. Abrams will be accompanied on the Star Wars Celebration film panel by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and several, unidentified special guests. The only concern fans have is that for those planning to attend at Chicago the lines for tickets are said to be long.

Star Wars Episode IX” arrives in cinemas at December 20, whether any significant reveals are made next month or not.

Planned MCU Film “Shang-Chi” Gets a Director

Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already on the verge of being done, now that “captain Marvel” has premiered and “Avengers: Endgame” follows next month. The following “Phase 4” also has its start well in hand, as “Spider-Man: Far from Home” premieres July.

What isn’t set fully in stone yet are what other films will come out for MCU Phase 4. No less than seven specific movies have been mentioned to be in early development and only two of them (“Black Widow” and “The Eternals”) have start of filming dates mentioned. A third, “Shang-Chi,” might soon approach that level of prep now that Marvel Studios found a director.

The Hollywood Reporter has it that Destin Daniel Cretton has been picked by Marvel Studios to be at the helm for the production of “Shang-Chi.” This in-development MCU installment could become the first movie of the franchise to have an Asian main character (and lead).

Marvel Studios actually had a pool of potential directors for the film. Other directorial names that were considered before the final choice of Cretton are:

  1. Justin Tipping (“Dear White People”)
  2. Alan Yang (“Tigertail”)
  3. Deborah Chow (“Marvel’s Jessica Jones” on Netflix and “Star Wars: The Mandalorian” on Disney+)

Incidentally, Destin Daniel Cretton has worked with two MCU cast members. His current film project “Just Mercy” actually has him directing Michael B. Jordan (from “Black Panther”) and Brie “Captain Marvel” Larson herself.

The Marvel character “Shang-Chi” is a highly skilled Kung-Fu master if un-powered ordinary human, with a(n immortal) Chinese father and Caucasian mother. He has been a member of several Marvel Comics teams including the Avengers.

An interesting fact about his character history is that Shang-Chi originated from licensed properties. His first comic title came about after Marvel failed to get a license to adapt the 1970s TV series “Kung Fu.” Furthermore, his father is the stock Chinese villain Fu Manchu. A later Marvel storyline ret-cons this person into an original immortal character who only used “Fu Manchu” as an alias.

Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” already has a screenwriter with Dave Callahan (“Wonder Woman 1984”) while Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and Jonathan Schwartz are executive producers. Perhaps the next step is to cast a (preferably Asian-background) lead actor.

Meanwhile, the current MCU installment “Captain Marvel” is still showing.