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It’s official: Disney now owns Fox (and X-Men, and Avatar, and way more)

By Josh Weiss

As of 12:02 a.m. EST this morning, Disney is now the new and official owner of 20th Century Fox and all of its entertainment properties in the worlds of both film and television. Fox, now mainly comprising news and sports-reporting divisions, is $71.3 billion richer for it, although initial projections of the total hovered around $66 billion.

Not only does the House of Mouse now have control over franchises like Alien, Predator, Planet of the ApesAvatar, and The Simpsons, the multibillion company can also fold even more properties into the MCU. That's because Fox handed over the cinematic rights to IPs like the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Within those two groupings, you get plenty of iconic characters, like Wolverine, Deadpool, Professor X, Storm, Jean Grey, Cable, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, and many, many, many more.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us—one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger in an official statement. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

Wasting no time, Disney updated its corporate website to reflect a number of its new properties like Deadpool, The Simpsons, Avatar, and The Shape of Water. All of them now sit side-by-side with Star Wars, the MCU, and Toy Story.

Disney corporate website

Ryan Reynolds, the current face (and voice) of Deadpool, poked fun at the massive business deal yesterday by posting a photo of Wade Wilson wearing a Mickey Mouse cap and waving from inside a yellow school bus bearing the word "Disney" on its side.

Many industry players, including Reynolds and Rob Liefeld, have been understandably uneasy about the future of Fox's R-rated superhero films amid the merger, but Iger said last month that the ratings of the adult-oriented Marvel films can remain the same so long as the messaging is clear prior to release.

Rumors of the deal began to fly in November of 2017 and soon gained traction, particularly the implications of Disney getting its hands on a larger share of the Marvel Universe. Even the late Stan Lee voiced his excitement over the possible deal. While all of this was unfolding, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige assured the world that he was busy enough without extra helpings needed from the X-Men or Fantastic Four.

Twitter was abuzz with the news, eager to point out that The Simpsons did indeed predict this merger years before, in 1998. The iconic animated series was recently renewed for an additional two seasons, but Disney could actually gain financially by canceling it. In December of 2017, there were reports that the deal would be decided on (with a yea or nay) by Rupert Murdoch and his family by the end of that year. Obviously, they chose to take Disney up on their generous offer, and things really began to snowball from there.

Last summer, the plan hit a slight snag when Comcast threw its hat into the ring with an "all-cash offer" of $65 billion for the Fox entertainment properties. (Comcast owns SYFY WIRE's parent company, NBCUniversal.) In late June of 2018, the Justice Department had approved Disney's bid, and by mid-July, Comcast had already pulled out of the running. Later that month, Disney shareholders also approved the deal.

When October rolled around, reports swirled that the whole affair would wrap up by Jan. 1 with layoffs to boot, but the timeline, once again, proved to be off. In January of this year, it was reported that both companies were looking to lock things down by early March, which was partially true. The actual closing date of the deal came last week when Iger stated that they hoped to be done on March 20.

Which brings us back to the present, moments after one of the biggest business mergers in history. Now that the I's are dotted and the T's crossed, it'll be a waiting game to see how Disney handles all of its shiny new toys, some of which have been appreciating in value for several decades already.

The acquisition also includes Fox's regional sports networks, National Geographic, and its stake in Hulu.