By now, the acquisition and merger by Disney of media assets from the former 21st Century Fox is old news. But even though said assets led by the 20th Century Fox film studios are now under the Disney umbrella, the whole process hasn’t finished yet due to some loose ends.
By that we mean Disney is still on a timetable to divest itself of several regional sports networks from Fox. That’s to pass antitrust regulations. Just over a month after the acquisition was finalized, Disney has somebody to buy those sports networks. It’s the largest broadcast owner in the US.
The Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group has inked a deal with Disney to take on the 21 sports networks from Fox. Their negotiations, made public this Friday, May 3, had the deal price pegged at about $10.6 billion. While the Department of Justice must yet approve, it should solve the potential antitrust problems Disney would have had if it retained the regional sports channels alongside ESPN.
Adjusted for minority equity interests, Sinclair only has to pay Disney $9.6 billion. The acquired sports networks will be packed under a new Sinclair subsidiary, Diamond Sports Group. Disney already sold another sports-regional, YES Network, this March to the NY Yankees whose games it broadcasts. That amounted to $3.5 billion.
With that proviso soon to be done, Disney can now return to integrating the former Fox media companies to its organization, and streamlining Fox productions to synergize with its own.
Following the completed acquisition of 20th Century Fox and other related media assets last month, it was only a matter of time before Disney begins showing them off alongside its other subsidiaries. That time came with the 2019 Cinema-Con film industry trade show, running Monday to Thursday this week at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
Off the bat, Disney chairman Alan Horn spoke of the sheer cinematic firepower that is “Disney and Fox combined” in future. He says during his opening address, “We are truly excited because we believe that together we will be more than the sum of our parts. It’s just an unbelievable collection…coming from bold visionary filmmakers…”
This was followed by exclusive footage from upcoming Disney – and Fox – films for this year. Here’s a list of the choice preview highlights from them:
- Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is fairly confident she can beat Thanos (Josh Brolin) and rubs all the surviving Avengers the wrong way.
- Thor (Chris Hemsworth) tests Marvel/Carol by summoning Stormbreaker close to her head (like in the trailer).
- Nebula (Karen Gillian) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) volunteer locations where Thanos may be; the former knows where he might be resting while the latter discovers another world that had its life population halved (ie. Thanos).
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix – This is the final installment of Fox’s “X-Men” reboot (from “First Class”) before MCU possibly integrates the characters.
- Prof. Xavier (James McAvoy) volunteers the X-Men to rescue NASA astronauts in a space crisis.
- The rescue mission ends with Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) left behind and possessed by the Phoenix.
- Her return to the Xavier School triggers gossip and uneasiness, especially as Jean feels herself losing control, and liking it.
- Magneto apparently attacks the school, only for Phoenix Jean to “shut him down.”
- Aladdin (Mena Massoud) and Abu explore the Cave of Wonders, and survive its collapse when Abu touches something forbidden.
- Genie (Will Smith) is summoned (like in the trailer), followed by full “A Friend Like Me” musical sequence.
- Palace dance features Aladdin and Jasmine (Naomi Scott), with him coaxing her onto the magic carpet towards the “A Whole New World” sequence.
- Full sequence is shown of Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and young Simba (JD McCrary) talking about the Pridelands kingdom atop Pride Rock (Mufasa’s lines overheard in first teaser).
- No footage, just a behind-the-scenes look.
- Flashback to how Bo Peep (Annie Potts) was given away between the events of the second and third film.
- Montage of how young Andy played with his toys before eventually passing them on to Bonnie (Madeline McGraw) in the third movie.
- Extended sequence from trailer shows Woody (Tom Hanks) introducing Forky (Tony Hale) to the rest of the toys after Bonnie made him in class.
Being exclusive means no videos, but here’s hoping you enjoyed the descriptions we wrote down. And there was no peep on “Star Wars: Episode IX” despite its franchise being mentioned.
With the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, its affiliated studio labels, and various other media networks by Disney finally completed, the House of Mouse now has control over a significant number of movie releases before the year 2019 is out. This multi-studio blitz of numerous films has been described, both in awe and derision, as the “Disney Death Star” phenomenon.
While Disney may have shuttered the Fox 2000 label as part of its ongoing reorganization, and layoffs are expected as divisions considered “frivolous” to the post-merge are removed, it has now taken over distribution of a number of Fox film releases for this year under Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Here’s a selection of 2019 Fox movies now releasing under Disney. Compare with the release schedule for Disney’s own films, and you’ll see that the year’s practically covered by both:
- Breakthrough – April 7, a book adaptation based on a real-life story
- Ad Astra – May 24, sci-fi film starring Brad Pitt
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix – June 7, Marvel film featuring X-Men
- Stuber – July 12, action-comedy
- New Mutants – August 2, Marvel film featuring X-Men related characters
- Spies in Disguise – September 13, animated film starring Will Smith aka Genie for 2019’s “Aladdin”
- The Art of Racing in the Rain – September 27, comedy film adapted from novel
- The Woman in the Window – October 4, mystery thriller adapted from novel
- Call of the Wild – December 25, adaptation of classic book by Jack London
That would now cover the blank month of September where Disney’s existing studios don’t have a film premiering. That’s the Disney Death Star in action, and it’s only going to become very obvious in the years to come.