Disney is said to be discussing buying out a major stake in 21st Century Fox, the owners of Star Wars: A New Hope and the live-action cinema rights to Marvel Comics properties such as X-Men and Fantastic Four.
It is reported that talks have been “on and off” for some weeks and the deal particularly comprises of the 21st Century Fox’s movie studio 20th Century Fox. The anticipated deal which will exclude Fox’s News and sports properties would mean that X-Men, Fantastic Four and other such characters will become a part of Disney’s Marvel platform.
Marvel is owned by the Mouse House and all the Marvel Characters as well as Marvel’s production house called Marvel Studios is the producer of Marvel Cinematic Universe. They house Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and also the Guardians of the Galaxy franchises. (They also have a deal with Sony which lets them use Spider-Man in a shared universe, and this allowed them to produce the Spider-Man: Homecoming which was distributed by Sony and we will see him again in Avengers: Infinity War).
If the deal goes through then, Disney will get the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four that they can use on the big screen which will allow these highly rated Marvel Comics’ brands to become a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The X-Men have their own cinematic universe which also has spinoffs such as Deadpool and New Mutants, and they have already done two reboots of Fantastic Four, once in 2005 and in 2015. The first version was based on the low budget film by Roger Corman titled Fantastic Four, and it brought the superhero family on the big screen. However, that version was wrapped up in 2007 after only two films, and then Fox rebooted a younger and darker Fantastic Four in the highly criticized 2015 film Fant4stic.
Although Fantastic Four never did well under the banner of Constantin Film and Fox, they have been earning steadily through the live-action X-Men. The X-Men (including Deadpool) has made almost $5 billion globally after debuting in 2000. Another spinoff is coming out in 2018, and two other movies Gambit and X-Force are also in the works.
The latest film X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past and also X-Men: Apocalypse is set to release in next November, however, if the sale to Disney happens then it might be possible that the films would mark the culmination of a long-term franchise. Hugh Jackman, who played Wolverine and happened to be the central character in the franchise, exited the franchise earlier this year with Logan and at present, the continuation of X-Men films is haphazard and constantly be reset. Marvel is unlikely to be keen to continue with a 17-year-old franchise that had nothing to do with them. Therefore, we feel that Disney will do a total reboot of the X-Men franchise.
Fox has achieved great success with the R-rated Deadpool which is the all-time highest grossing R-rated movie which makes it unlikely that Disney would terminate that franchise despite Deadpool being linked to the X-Men universe which might now cease to exist. Deadpool (played by Ryan Reynolds) is likely to keep going in his own Marvel-produced series post-Deadpool 2, or maybe some cosmic concept might be created to integrate him with the MCU, and that would sync well with the typical witty and random sense of humor shown by the character. Fox is also working on a kid-friendly version of Fantastic Four. However, the sale would mean that the Superhero family of Marvel Comics would belong to Marvel Studios who would wish to create their own version of Fantastic Four. However, as of now, they claim to have “no plans whatsoever” for the Fantastic Four, who are currently a property of a rival studio.
Stan-Lee is the co-creator of Fantastic Four as well as X-Men, and he has shown optimism about the live-action rights to all Marvel characters coming home one day and although the talks between Disney and Fox are suspended, for now, we know that the possibility of a mega-crossover which could be even bigger than Infinity War is very much on the cards.
The brainchild of writer and director George Lucas, the original space odyssey debuted as Star Wars in 1977. It was produced by 20th Century Fox with an $11 million budget. However, unlike the other five, George Lucas produced Star Wars movies, the rights of A New Hope didn’t go to Disney when they bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.
Disney won’t get the physical distribution rights for the Original as well as the Prequel trilogies from 20th Century Fox until 2020. However, A New Hope is forever owed by Fox. However, once Disney buys Fox, that automatically will belong to Disney. 2015 onwards, Walt Disney has produced and distributed all Star Wars movies beginning from Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the next year’s release Solo: A Star Wars Story and the space saga is among their crown jewels in an illustrious portfolio. Disney is not pleased with the thought of some other studio having any link with the mega-franchise of Star Wars. A strategic purchase of relevant parts of Fox would ensure that Disney will have absolute control over entire Star Wars and most of Marvel in one single deal.
Fox had released James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009, and it went on to become a monster on box-office as well as the all-time greatest grosser. Cameron is now working to create four sequels of Avatar which will release between 2020 to 2025 and Dinsey had earlier this year opened Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide had tied up with Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment in 2011 to create the epic and intimidating themed area for visitors which carefully recreated the green planet of Pandora which was home for the blue-skinned Na’vi. The joint venture was surprising since they had so many of the blockbusters in their kitty that it was unthinkable for Disney to create a rival’s property on their own massive Florida resort.
It might have been aimed to compete with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter created by Universal (next door to Disneyland and Walt Disney World in California and Florida, respectively) or it could have been to address Disney’s inability to use their Marvel properties at their Florida theme park. (An old deal between Universal and Marvel prohibits Disney from using any Marvel property east of Mississippi. They can use Marvel in their theme parks on the west coast, and they had recently unveiled Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT at Disney California Adventure.
We are not aware as to how Avatar fits into the Disney/Fox deal and we will know only when it is done if at all, however, Disney has been ruling the box office for last few years riding on the success of their Marvel, Lucasfilm and other live-action productions and if they own Avatar that would mean that the domination will continue for many more years to come.
This deal would bring to Disney another hit franchise Planet of the Apes, which has delivered great success to Fox in 2011 and its sequels came out in 2014 and 2017. The last two were directed by The Batman director Matt Reeves and were hit critically as well as commercially. The three films of the franchise have brought in over $1.6 billion combined at global box-office and this trilogy ranks amongst the best modern superhits. It is obvious that Disney would continue with this franchise.
Disney ideally doesn’t like to stray from the franchise sequels of its major properties such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars and the live-action versions of their animated classics. However, they are no longer averse to PG-13 stuff beyond the superheroes or the cosmic adventures. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise might have floundered a bit, but, its fifth movie made almost $800 million worldwide, and that’s when it had a bad score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Disney will find it lucrative to continue a franchise such as Apes which is loved by critics and audiences both, and this year’s release War for the Planet of the Apes has wrapped up the first trilogy and created the base for the future movies. Disney wouldn’t face trouble in expanding this franchise, and for the same reasons which killed their interest in Tron reboot, however, this franchise is extremely viable at the box-office and deserves consideration.
The Apes films are a bit darker than the normal PG-13 Disney material, however, Disney has not catered to kids alone and the Marvel films prove that Disney is not for kids only as they have featured themes such as marijuana, sexual overtures (and profound mention of “the Devil’s anus” which is a continuing joke in Thor: Ragnarok). Therefore, a franchise like Planet of the Apes being handled by Disney is not off the table.