Details are still coming out about the deal that will see Disney buy up a large portion of 20th Century Fox. CNN has a list of what’s being exchanged, including 20th Century Fox, the studio with the X-Men rights. What will the effect be, especially for the adaptations?
The immediate effect is none. The movies that have been produced will still come out; they’re too far down the pipeline to change at this late date. Deadpool 2 won’t be delayed as a result. Disney is also not going to impose changes right away. Take a look at what happened when Disney bought both Marvel and Lucasfilm. There were immediate hues and cries in both cases, fans assuming the worst. The reality, though, was far from the disasters expected. Following the takeover of Marvel, Marvel Studios came out with The Avengers, blowing away fan expectations. Likewise, when Disney took over Star Wars, the same dire warnings came from fans. The company released Star Wars: Rebels, The Force Awakens, and Rogue One.
Longer term, this may help Marvel Studios. Because Fox had the rights to the X-Men and related characters, it created a situation where Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who were members of both the X-Men and the Avengers in the comics, had to have their backgrounds hidden in the Avengers: Age of Ultron. The word “mutant” could not be used. With Disney having access to X-Men and The Fantastic Four and the associated characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will expand. The crossover potential has increased. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dealing with a plot masterminded by the Hellfire club. The Avengers take on a proper Doctor Doom. Kingdom Hearts 3 with Mickey, Rey, and Deadpool saving the world from C. Montgomery Burns.
One thing that may change is where the Marvel streaming series, such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher wind up. Disney is picking up 60% of Hulu, so they may move the Marvel line up there to drive demand for the service. Current contracts won’t be changed; the effort needed and the costs to make the change won’t be worth the end result. New series, though, once the deal with Netflix runs out, may appear on Hulu instead.
The other side of the deal involves Fox’s non-Marvel franchises, including the long running TV series The Simpsons and Modern Family. The nature of Hollywood is that an incoming executive tends to clean house of everything the previous exec did. That sort of move led to the problems John Carter had. However, long running TV series last as long as they do because the audience keeps tuning in. The Simpsons may be long in the tooth, but the big problem the series has is that the only thing it has left to parody is itself. The change in ownership will give writers for the show new material for its bite-the-hand humour, plus allowing for a few last jabs at Fox. Again, nothing will happen immediately. The new owners need to see how their properties are behaving. If anything, expect Disney to capitalize on the merchandising end. The Mouse knows merchandise. Try not finding anything Star Wars right now.
The deal isn’t complete. American regulators still have to examine the deal and make sure that the market is still competitive. Disney will grow if the deal is approved. Given the Mouse’s clout. it is unlikely that copyrights will be allowed to expire. “Steamboat Willie” will never be in the public domain.
Right now, the best approach is to wait and see what happens. There’s no sense in saying the world’s about to end just because Disney has taken over a beloved franchise. The Mouse exists to make money and alienating fans is a sure way to not do that. The current record shows Disney providing to fans what they want. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars are showing what will happen.