If Disney Buys Fox: The Pros And Cons Of The Potential Acquisition

You probably know the story by now: Disney is in negotiations with 21st Century Fox to buy the company's film and television assets. If it comes to fruition, it won't be just the biggest movie news story of 2017 – it will be the biggest movie news story of the decade. Or more.

If this news fills you with excitement, dread, or something in-between...welcome to the club. The /Film staff has mixed feelings about this development, which could shake Hollywood to its core in ways both exciting and terrifying. So let's run down the pros and cons of Disney buying Fox and what it means for both companies...and film industry itself.

X-Men Spiderman Movie Universe

Positive: X-Men and Fantastic Four Could Join the MCU

When Marvel Comics nearly went bankrupt in the '90s, they stayed afloat by selling the movie rights to their most popular characters: Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil. And since then, that decision has served to bite them in the butt.

The exclusion of X-Men and Fantastic Four from the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a constant source of frustration for fans who want to see their favorite characters in the comics interact with their favorites in the movies — and of confusion for general audiences who have to deal with multiple versions of Quicksilver. Marvel has to bend over backwards to adapt ambitious crossover storylines like Civil War because they don't own certain characters. And then there's the poor Fantastic Four, who have not yet had a good movie — something that could change once Marvel Studios and their stellar track record gets a hold of them.

Could this mean that the Fantastic Four and X-Men enter the MCU? Possibly — and with the convoluted X-Men universe at a crossroads after the stunning Logan and the not-so-stunning Apocalypse, perhaps it's time to start afresh. Besides, don't you want to see a grumpy Wolverine bicker and try to lead the Avengers? (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Logan - Wolverine and X-23

Negative: The R-rated and Audacious Superhero Movie Dies?

Almost every positive argument I've seen for the Disney/Fox purchase seems to revolve around superheroes. "Finally!" people have declared. "The Wolverine can hang out with Iron Man!" Look: I get it. People love superhero movies, and they love synergy. They want all their favorites sharing the screen together. That's fine! But even if your biggest concern is superhero movies, the Disney/Fox deal should give you pause.Disney's MCU films have done very well, both with critics and at the box office. Yet it cannot be denied that almost all of these films blend together; they're supposed to, since they're all part of the same universe. While Fox has had more duds than hits with their superhero films, they have recently started to take more chances, and with great success. While I'm not a fan of Deadpool, I do recognize that making a full-blown R-rated superhero movie was a risky move, and it paid off for Fox. Deadpool was followed-up with the excellent proto-Western Logan. Dark, violent, and surprisingly mature, Logan is the complete opposite of everything in the MCU – and that's a good thing.Disney and the MCU clearly have no interest in going down this road. They want their films to appeal to a wider audience, since that's going to pull in the most money at the box office. As a result, the Disney-Fox deal might signal the end of more risky superhero movies, right when the sub-genre was beginning to take chances again. (Chris Evangelista)Inhumans Trailer

Positive: Marvel Can Stop Trying to Make the Inhumans a Thing

Okay, this is small potatoes compared to some of the other entries on this list, but it's a small, geeky point that matters to comic book fans. Over the past few years, Marvel Comics has increasingly cordoned off the X-Men, forcing them into their own corner of the universe they helped build while giving the Inhumans series after series, forcing them into the spotlight at all times. Behind-the-scenes stories explained why the publisher wasn't highlighting some of its most popular and iconic characters – certain people with their fingers on the purse strings didn't want to offer free publicity to characters who couldn't star in lucrative Disney-distributed movies. An X-Men comic was essentially an advertisement for a 20th Century Fox film, at least when seen through certain eyes. So the Inhumans have been taking their place. And it stinks.

The Inhumans push has been underwhelming, to put it lightly. They simply aren't as interesting as the X-Men and their various series have tended to have uneven launches and vanish before they can find their feet (the recent solo Black Bolt solo series is the exception that proves the rule). It all culminated in that terrible Inhumans TV show no one wants to talk about ever again. The Inhumans aren't going to happen. They aren't going to replace the X-Men! (Or the Fantastic Four, who were also shoved to the side in recent years despite being Marvel's first family.)

With the X-Men movie rights under the same umbrella as the MCU, the need to punish these fictional characters over real world BS comes to an end. The Marvel comic book universe goes back to celebrating all of its characters. And the Inhumans go away for a bit. Comic readers rejoice! (Jacob Hall)

best american horror story characters

Negative: We Could Lose Edgier, More Mature TV Shows

While specific details are still not a hundred percent clear, early reports suggest that television brands like FX and FXX would be transferred over to Disney in the sale as well. Assuming Disney doesn't let those branches operate independently and completely free of any corporate oversight, that could result in a number of possible things happening: Disney could move executives from current departments into positions of power overseeing those divisions, which may result in those channels producing less of the brazen and edgy TV shows for which those networks are known. I find it hard to believe a family-friendly company like Disney would be okay with something as twisted as American Horror Story on one of its networks. (Ben Pearson)

fox news

Negative: Disney Would Be Giving $60 Billion to Fox to Invest in Fox News

The whole reason Fox is interested in selling off huge percentages of its assets is to focus more on sports and news. Sports? Sure. Fine. No big deal. But news? That's...not great. Do we really want the company responsible for Fox News to have 60 billion (with a "b") more dollars in its pocket and a burning desire to actually devote those resources to more news content? I'm done playing nice about politics, so you'll just have to deal with this (obvious) truth bomb – Fox News actively misleads its viewers and purposefully avoids covering relevant news that casts Republican politicians in a negative light. It's practically state-sponsored media at this point. The thought of the people behind that network dumping more money into its skewed brand of news coverage is, frankly, terrifying; it'd be terrifying at any point, but it's especially terrifying in light of everything that's going on right now. (Ben Pearson)

Hulu commercial free

Unclear: Disney Would Gain Majority Ownership of Hulu

Disney owns 30% stake in Hulu, the same amount that Fox owns. So the question is this: what does Disney owning 60% of Hulu mean for the future of Hulu and Disney's own premium streaming service? You would think that Disney would not have much interest in Hulu as they begin to develop their own walled garden, so my first thought is that maybe they will use the technology for their own service. Remember, Hulu as a platform and infrastructure has been well tested by millions of users, and that might be better than starting from scratch. But I sincerely hope not, as the Hulu platform as is it a horrible user experience.

But with revenues over a billion dollars, does Disney want to pull their content out of the ad and subscription supported service? It's also possible that Disney would want to keep their latest network shows on Hulu while keeping their older seasons and movies for the more binge-worthy premium service. (Peter Sciretta)

Disney Fox (1)

Positive: Fox Movies and Shows on Disney’s Upcoming Streaming Service Makes It a Better Value for Consumers

Disney is planning to launch its own subscription streaming service in 2019, and, as we discussed on a recent episode of /Film Daily, audiences may eventually start to grow tired of subscribing to so many services across multiple platforms as studios continue to branch out and compete with Netflix. A live-action Star Wars TV series that can only be watched with a subscription will help convince people that it's worth paying a monthly fee, but another thing that will give customers more bang for their buck is the potential addition of hundreds of movies and television shows from Fox's archives. For audiences still unsure about subscribing to the service in its current form, the notion of being able to stream classics like Cleopatra, All About Eve, The Seven Year Itch, Patton, or The Day The Earth Stood Still just might be enough to move the needle. (Ben Pearson)

disney streaming

Negative: Disney Already Has Too Many Movies to Promote

With Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar already under its belt, Disney is the king of the tentpole game right now. The company will release nine major movies in 2017...but by the end of the year, Fox will have released 14 of its own. As it is, Disney is already fighting against its own divisions to carve out release dates that won't cannibalize its box office prospects, and adding more than a dozen movies a year to that slate makes that task seem downright impossible. Could that mean that certain movies will get dumped into theaters with not as much advertising or promotion as they'd otherwise have gotten? Or, worse yet, will Disney simply cut down on the number of projects being made as a whole? (Remember, there's traditionally one Disney animated release, at least one Pixar movie, up to three Marvel movies, and one Star Wars movie being released every year for the foreseeable future.)  Fewer voices being allowed to tell stories sounds like bad news to me. (Ben Pearson)

avengers infinity war breakdown 1

Negative: Mid-Budget Movies Could Become Even More Endangered

What ever happened to the mid-budget movie? Lower budget independent films are still a reality, but there was a time when even major Hollywood studios would happily finance mid-budget dramas. Those days are over. Instead, the big studios are hell-bent on making films that are as big as humanly possible. Every film is an "event film." Franchises are king. Disney certainly hasn't had any interest in financing a mid-budget film in quite some time – and why should they? Their huge tentpole films rake in the cash. Which indicates that when and if Disney absorbs Fox, they'll have an even bigger line-up of huge spectacle properties to finance.The mid-budget film is barely a reality at this point; when this purchase goes through, I have a feeling it will become completely extinct. In an interview with Flavorwire, filmmaker Susan Seidelman rightfully bemoaned the death of the mid-budget film: "You could make movies in the ten-to-20-million-dollar budget range...They didn't have to be huge blockbusters. They could be more adult-oriented, they didn't have to appeal to absolutely everyone in the world, and if it's good work then the studio was happy with making a good profit, but it was a different model... And I think over the years, what happened is that things have gotten really polarized. To studios now, to make a million dollars isn't a big deal — you have to make a billion dollars, right? They have to appeal to every demographic in every part of the world, so to make a $20 million movie that makes $60 million, why put their money there?"As a result, smaller, more personal, more adult-oriented fare has gone the way of the dodo, or been relegated to limited platform releases that receive 1/10th of the attention that a superhero film might. This is depressing, and even if you're a fan of superhero films (and there's certainly nothing wrong with that), this is troubling. There's more to movies than just blockbusters, folks. At least, there used to be. (Chris Evangelista)Fox Disney

Positive: Disney Could Keep 20th Century Fox as Their Adult Branded Entertainment Arm

I don't honestly believe that Disney would buy 20th Century Fox just for their library and it's unlikely that Disney would want to turn the Fox brand into just another Disney. It seems far more likely that the mouse house would use 20th Century Fox as a more adult branded entertainment arm. This way, they could produce content that is aimed more at adults outside of the Disney brand. Disney used to do this with Touchtone Pictures. Remember, Wes Anderson's first big films were released by Disney through Touchtone!

Perhaps Disney could use Fox to release more low and mid-budget films, allowing for more interesting non-franchise films. Looking at the release calendar, it's clear that Disney is already competing with itself in the big event and franchise film department. It doesn't make much sense to use Fox for a similar purpose and cannibalize its own audience at the multiplex. The idea that Disney could be using Fox in this way is actually very exciting as it could provide a platform for more interesting stories and new filmmakers to shine. (Peter Sciretta)

Star Wars A New Hope

Positive: Disney Would Finally Own Full Rights to A New Hope

With Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, the company bought the rights to nearly all of Star Wars, but was still forced to share distribution rights, creative decisions and profits on George Lucas' original film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. If Disney were to acquire Fox, this would mean that the studio would own all of Star Wars for the first time ever. What this could mean for fans is unclear. Some believe that Fox's ownership in A New Hope has been a sticking point preventing Disney from releasing the original theatrical cut of the film (non-Special Edition).  It could also mean the beloved 20th Century Fox fanfare might be restored to the past and future Star Wars films. (Peter Sciretta)


Negative: What Will Happen to Blue Sky Studios?

Listen, I'm not a fan of Blue Sky Studios or the films they have produced thus far (which mainly consist of the Ice Age and Rio franchises alongside The Peanuts Movie), but what would happen to the Fox-owned animation studio if Disney purchases the company? Would it be run alongside Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disney Toons Studios? Or would it be shut down, leading to many talented animators losing their jobs? The second option feels like a horrifying possibility. (Peter Sciretta)

avatarland animatronic

Positive for Disney: Disney Gets Ownership of Avatar

The acquisition would give Disney the rights to James Cameron's Avatar, a huge film franchise the company have already incorporated into the Disney parks. Disney has proven itself to be a master of corporate synergy in the past, so actually owning the film rights to their expensive new theme park land, Pandora: The World of Avatar, would be handy. (Peter Sciretta)

The Simpsons Supporting Characters

Negative for Disney: Disney Gets Ownership of Properties Already in Competing Theme Parks

Speaking of theme parks...

While Disney fully owning Avatar in the parks and on the big screen would benefit both divisions, they would also be acquiring the rights to film and TV projects, like the The Simpsons, that already have deals in competitor's theme parks, like Universal Studios. This would not be a first for Disney, as their acquisition of Marvel excluded the theme park rights to most Marvel superheroes east of the Mississippi. The result is that Universal has a theme park land and costumed characters based on Disney properties and Disney has less control of their ecosystem. (Peter Sciretta)


Negative: A piece of Hollywood History Gets Swallowed and Possibly Spit Out in A Corporate Merger

This is admittedly sentimental and the entry that closes out this list, while attached at the hip to this one, is far more unsettling. But I'll just come out and say it: a studio that has operated since 1935 getting absorbed by another entity really bums me out. There aren't that many Hollywood studios and those that have been around since the golden age of the industry just feel, well, magical. Yeah, they're corporations and yeah, the magic I'm talking about is mostly an illusion cooked up by hot lights and hotter headlines, but it sits uneasy with me. Here is an iconic movie studio, one that has seen the ups and downs of the industry for over 80 years up close and personal, a place that has literally been a huge piece of Hollywood history...and it could be swept away with a few signatures. What becomes of the historic Fox studio lot? What becomes of the stories and legends and tall tales associated with this place, a place that has existed in Hollywood for so long?

Disney could let it all stand as is. It could continue operating as business-as-usual. But it wouldn't be the same. Even before we get to the business ramifications, the nostalgic in me, the person who loves diving into sordid tales of film industry history, would be sad to see an institution like this get all-but-shuttered. (Jacob Hall)

A Wrinkle in Time Trailer

Positive: Disney's Recent Trend Toward Diversity Gets More Powerful

Disney has made an emphatic effort to create a more diverse environment behind and in front of the camera. And with four major movie studios under their wing, that could mean wonders for actors, actresses, and directors of color. Disney's feature films have seen a trend toward showcasing stories about diversity (Moana, Queen of Katwe, Zootopia) with diverse talent in the director's chairs like Ava Duvernay in the upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time.

At Pixar, we've seen a concerted effort to showcase diversity with this year's dazzlingly authentic Coco, Lucasfilm has Kathleen Kennedy calling the shots leading to more diverse Star Wars leads than we've ever seen, and Marvel has become a beacon for diversity in the superhero genre, changing the races for many supporting characters if not for their main characters. With Hollywood suffering from hit-after-hit over sexual harassment cases and boys' club mentality, Disney's active efforts in favor of diversity could mean good things for future 20th Century Fox flicks. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

scrooge mcduck

Negative:Disney is One Step Closer to a Movie Monopoly

Bow to our Disney overlords. If the deal is struck between Disney and 20th Century Fox, Disney would not only own the rights to Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Rupert Murdoch's film studio, but also its spin-off networks like FX and the National Geographic. As of now, Disney already makes almost $1 billion more than its next biggest rival, Warner Bros. With Fox under its wing, Disney's only competitors in the movie industry would be Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, and Sony, all of which mostly rely on television revenue.

Monopolies are never a good idea, and a monopoly in the movie industry not only has unsettling implications for Disney's heavy focus on big-budget films (if you thought mid-budget movies were dead now...), but also for how Disney will wield that power. Disney attacked the LA Times for the publication's investigation into the company's business dealings in its Anaheim, Calif. theme parks, blacklisting LA Times critics out from all screenings of Disney films. John Lasseter thrived for years in a system that aided his sexual harassment of female employees. Disney strong-armed theaters into giving the company 65% of ticket sales for surefire blockbuster hit Star Wars: The Last Jedi — a higher percentage than studios have ever demanded. Severe backlash to these power moves caused Disney to walk back, but once the conglomerate has a monopoly over one third of the movie industry, what else could the company be capable of? (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Negative: Fox Employees Could Lose Their Jobs

Since originally publishing this piece, a Slashfilm reader pointed out that we failed to mention another obvious negative to this potential acquisition: the hundreds of jobs that could be on the line for current Fox employees. Corporate acquisitions don't often allow for a clean and easy transfer of power – at best, the buyer replaces people in power with whomever they think are right for those jobs, and at worst, they decide to clean house completely, wiping out entire departments and putting them under the purview of previously-existing management ecosystems. We've been talking about the acquisition in big picture terms, but it's worth remembering that there's a human cost to something like this as well. (Ben Pearson)