Disney might be making another big acquisition and one that could significantly impact both its Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises.
According to a report this afternoon from CNBC, the House of mouse has been in discussions with Twenty-First Century fox to acquire a significant portion of that company’s assets, including its film and television studios, as well as its FX and National Geographic cable channels. The newly divestified Fox would then concentrate on its news and sports outlets.
No deal has been set, but CNBC reports that the talks have been ongoing over the last several weeks. There are no talks happening at this moment. However, given their on-again off-again nature of the discussions, CNBC speculates that there is the possibility of their resumption.
If a deal does go through, it could be a big plus for two of the company’s biggest geek franchises.
First off, Disney would acquire Fox’s distribution rights to the original 1977 Star Wars. Fox currently holds the distribution rights to that film in perpetuity as part of the original deal they made with Lucasfilm. When it came time to produce the first Star Wars sequel, George Lucas managed to keep the distribution rights to any subsequent franchise entry, and those rights went to Disney when they bought Lucasfilm. There has been speculation that Fox’s ownership of the distribution of the first Star Wars film has been a sticking point to Lucasfilm releasing it in its original theatrical version – an un-Special Edition if you will – on home video.
Of potentially bigger import would be Disney gaining control of the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises. As both are based on Marvel Comics properties, Disney would transfer those right back to their Marvel Studios for inclusion the studio’s superhero cinematic universe, something many fans have been clamoring. This would also give Marvel more big name characters to integrate into the franchise to potentially take the place of other top-tier characters such as Captain America or Iron Man, who may get “retired” as actors’ salaries raise to a prohibitive amount or their interests may take them elsewhere.
The acquisition of Fox’s film library would also give Disney much more material for inclusion on their planned branded streaming service.
Disney would not acquire Fox’s Sports channels, as holding both them and their own ESPN could be seen as anti-competitive. They would also not be buying Fox’s News or Business News cable outlets as well as any of the company’s owned-and-operated local television stations.
More as this develops.