Pretty much every geeky (read: non-business) headline surrounding Disney's purchase of Fox revolved around the movie and TV rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four and the potential creative implications for rolling those franchises under the Marvel Studios banner. The half-dozen pending Avatar sequels from James Cameron are also a key part of the equation, since those follow-ups were poised to be major money-makers over the next decade. Not to mention Fox's flagship animated series, The Simpsons.
But what else does this deal entail? A whole lot, actually. Disney has acquired an extensive back catalog of Fox TV shows, movie rights, cable networks, and a controlling stake in the streaming service Hulu. For genre fans, that means the Mouse House has obtained the rights to beloved franchises that a lot of folks love — and if there's one thing Disney knows how to do, it's leverage intellectual property for maximum profitability.
From hit cable shows, to genre staples, to blockbuster sci-fi franchises, here are 12 of the most interesting acquisitions, outside of the obvious ones.
One caveat: Hollywood IP deals are complicated. Though Fox and its various subsidiaries have stakes in all the properties below, several of them are also connected to other production studios. That said, this deal and Disney's massive reach would likely give the studio the leeway to do something with these franchises, if the studio sees fit.
Fox has struck ratings gold by dusting off The X-Files franchise in recent years, with another new revival season expected to also be a ratings smash early next year. Fox has never been able to get the franchise quite right on the big screen, but Disney has the expertise and reach to actually pull it off. Beyond revivals with the original stars, The X-Files is still a primo brand for sci-fi fans. Looking down the line, it'd likely be a primo target for a reboot, as well.
Fox bought the X-Men franchise rights from Marvel decades ago and has managed to spin it off into several successful films and a few high-profile TV shows in recent years. One of those was the critical hit Legion on FX, which told a mind-bending story about a man grappling with his abilities and varying degrees of reality. A second season is already on the way, and the series likely has a long life ahead of it. Disney is already home to a bevy of blockbusters, but arguably one of the biggest draws of the Fox deal is the critical cachet of the studio's properties.
This animated sci-fi series has endured for more than a decade, from its original run to a few eventual revivals down the line. Despite its age, the series remains a hit on streaming and broadcast (SYFY picked up the re-run rights a few months ago) with a fervent fanbase. It still has the potential to be a lucrative franchise, and with Disney prepping a streaming service in need of buzzy originals, this one would certainly make sense and drive some attention.
Planet of the Apes
Fox spent the past few years turning this hugely popular and occasionally silly franchise into an acclaimed science fiction trilogy that tackled the big questions about what it means to be human. It might be a bit soon for a reboot, but Fox has proven this brand still has a lot of cachet with fans if it’s handled well. It might not be soon, but those damn dirty apes will probably come storming back at some point.
This show only lasted one season and had one movie in 2005, but that short life hasn't stopped fans from stumping for a revival ever since. Joss Whedon's space cowboy show was lightning in a bottle, featuring a cast of newcomers who would go on to be staples of the sci-fi genre for years to come. The puckish cast has arguably aged out of any potential revival series at this point, but much like The X-Files, this is a major franchise brand among sci-fi fans. It'd have to be handled with some delicacy, but it stands to reason that the Mouse House could eventually mine out a way to leverage it.
The Alien franchise is one of the most storied brands in science fiction, and one that Fox has been taking full advantage of the past few years with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Those two sequels might not have been as beloved as the original two films in the franchise, but Ridley Scott's vision of a terrifying future will almost certainly be a piece in Disney's Fox strategy moving forward.
The wild, blood-soaked action series based on the comic of the same name also seems like an odd fit for Disney, but the franchise now falls under Disney's purview as part of the Fox purchase. The second film in the series, The Golden Circle, put up decent box office numbers for Fox in 2017, but no word on if another sequel will get a green light anytime soon.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon's acclaimed saga of a California gal chosen to defend the world from vampires is also under Disney's banner now, so it stands to reason the studio will make good use of that back catalog when it comes to streaming rights. As for the future? An attempted reboot in 2010 disappeared into development hell, but nothing stays dead in Hollywood forever — especially a franchise that fans love as much as this one.
Fox already made a run at rebooting this '90s sci-fi action staple with Independence Day: Resurgence in 2016. Critics hated it, audiences were ambivalent, and the box office haul had it bordering in bomb territory. We wouldn't look for a revival so fresh off Resurgence's failure, but it's still a strong bit of IP to have on the shelf.
A new sequel in the Predator franchise is already in the works with plans for an August 2018 release. The series dates back to the 1980s and is a beloved sci-fi action property. The latest installment is being written and directed by Shane Black (Iron Man Three) and reportedly finds the killer aliens dropping into the suburbs.
Night at the Museum
Of all the movie franchises Disney has picked up from Fox, this one arguably feels like the easiest fit to fall right into Disney's catalog. The family-friendly story of a museum that comes to life at night has already spawned three films, and it stands to reason we'll see this one again down the line eventually, be it as a TV show, movie, or something else. It might not have the name recognition of other franchises, but this series has still banked more than $1 billion worldwide over the past decade. That's good money, even for a studio as big as Disney.
American Horror Story
Another one of those FX cable shows, this purchase puts Disney immediately into the horror business on the small screen. The acclaimed horror anthology series has become a cultural force in its own right and shows little sign of slowing down. It's also an interesting angle into just how different some of Fox's properties are from Disney's typical fare, which will certainly make for an interesting marriage.