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What a Disney-Fox buy out could mean for Marvel, Star Wars, Aliens and streaming

By Alex Wiggan

A little earlier tonight, news broke that Disney is in talks to buy 21st Century Fox. According to reports, Fox and Marvel have been in discussions for a couple of weeks now and while talks aren’t ‘official’, there’s a strong possibility of a deal, as Fox moves away from entertainment in favour of news and sport.

So, what does this mean moving forward?

Potentially a great deal.

As previously mentioned, if the Walt Disney Company does buy 21st Century Fox then it would mean the studio’s movie properties would belong to Disney – movie properties which include the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. After years of being overseen by Fox, this would mean the X-Men and the FF could be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel’s rather secretive Phase 4 anyone?

Of course, there are other ramifications for this deal – one effecting the future of streaming and one centred around the original Star Wars movie.

Disney is currently in the process of setting up its own dedicated streaming service filled with Disney-owned content. In the UK, we have DisneyLife – a dedicated streaming service filled with Disney-owned content – but in the US this service has yet to launch.

When the Disney streaming service does launch in the US, Disney will pull all of its properties from other entertainment services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc) and transfer them all to the Disney platform. This means the likes of Star Wars and the Marvel films will be taken away from all existing services and if you want to see this content you will have to subscribe to the new Disney service.

But of course, we’ve known about this for a while.

Here’s where things get a little more interesting.

Under a Disney-Fox buy out, this could also mean all existing 21st Century Fox properties are withdrawn from their current streaming services. So, that’s the Die Hard movies, the Alien series, the Planet of the Apes films, Ice Age, Kung-Fu Panda and so on.

A deal with Fox could really strengthen Disney’s already huge entertainment portfolio. This would make its digital offering very attractive to subscribers.

Oh, and speaking of the Fox back catalogue, if Disney own Fox properties this could mean new entries for the Alien series – including Alien 5 or even a huge Alien shared universe. It’s pure speculation, but who is to say that Disney wouldn’t look to push the Alien series in the same way it has recently pushed Star Wars? Or even do some kind of huge space crossover!

And then that brings us on to the Star Wars situation.

Disney owns Lucasfilm, which in turn owns Star Wars and any new Star Wars movies that are produced. However, as previously discussed on the Honcho-SFX blog, Disney currently doesn’t own the distribution rights to the original Star Wars movies – that’s the original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) and the prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III).

Just to recap: As it stands, Fox owns the physical distribution rights to the six movies.

In May 2020 (and presuming that Disney doesn’t buy Fox), Fox will hand the rights over to Disney, as part of a deal that was made when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012. However, come June 2020, Fox will still own the rights to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The studio owns the rights to this film indefinitely.

Why?

Back during the late ‘70s, when George Lucas made a deal for control over merchandising of the Star Wars franchise (as well as any possible Star Wars sequels), the deal did not include Star Wars. As such, Fox own the film until such time as they decide to give up those rights.

Now, let’s say that the Disney-Fox buy out does go ahead, then Disney could own Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope outright. This could mean that a.) Disney could return Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to cinemas should it wish; b.) Disney could issue an all-new home video release of all the Star Wars movies, with all new extras, without having to get an agreement from Fox; c.) Disney could finally release Star Wars at the cinema/on home video as it was originally shot – without any of the digital tinkering that has occurred over the past 40 years.

For years, fans have requested to see the original, unaltered Star Wars movie as it originally appeared in 1977. Maybe, just maybe, they will get their wish.

Of course, this is all just the tip of the iceberg and no doubt we will find out more as and when details of the deal (or possible, no deal) immerge.

Exciting times ahead.

 

 

 

About the author: Alex Wiggan has written blog posts for Honcho-SFX blog since October 2014. He likes writing, eating pizza and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes in that order.

 

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Posted in Film & TV, Marvel, Pop Culture, Star Wars
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