Disney nods at future of Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avatar and more Fox franchises in post-merger preview

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Aug 7, 2018

Disney has dropped one of its first overt references to the future possibilities for all the bankable sci-fi, comic book, and fantasy properties the Mouse House is taking home after its recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets.

Hinting in an earnings call Tuesday that Fantastic Four, X-Men, Deadpool, Avatar, and more won’t lie fallow for long, CEO Bob Iger name-checked a robust list of Fox franchises that fit into the studio’s plans, on both the big and small screens. 

“20th Century Fox Film… gives us the opportunity to be associated with, and to expand, iconic movies franchises like Avatar, Marvel’s X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, Planet of the Apes, Kingsman, and many others,” Iger said, giving a wide berth to the studio’s specific plans for each of the Fox brands. 

Without getting into specifics about how Disney will bifurcate development on all its new goodies between the theater and the living room, Iger emphasized the ongoing importance of feature films, while acknowledging that Fox’s new Marvel brands will be vital to the success of its forthcoming digital streaming service.

“We’re obviously very excited to leverage the Fox assets to enhance and accelerate our DTC [direct-to-consumer] strategy. But I want to be clear that we remain incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about the movie theater experience,” he said. 

“…We’re also moving forward with brand new Marvel content, and as I just noted, the Fox acquisition brings even more opportunity to create original programming for this [digital] platform,” he added, promising to reveal more streaming details at an investor presentation in the near future.

On the small screen, Deadpool and similarly mature content appear destined for Hulu, which Disney said earlier Tuesday (via Variety) will likely serve as the designated landing spot for R-rated entertainment in its corner of the streaming space. 

We’re still not sure exactly when Disney’s streaming platform will launch, nor what it’ll be called, or how much subscriptions will cost. But, reports Variety, Iger confirmed earlier reports that Disney is targeting a launch sometime in 2019, and is aiming to undercut Netflix in cost. The lower price point reflects Disney’s strategic decision to offer less overall content than its red-lettered competitor, although, unlike Netflix, all the content appearing on the new service will carry Disney's in-house development DNA.

Iger also said the new platform will exclusively host all the Star Wars theatrical releases that come out after 2019 — in other words, all the Star Wars movies in the works after the end of the nine-installment Skywalker saga. Current distribution deals lock the original George Lucas-created movie cycle onto other platforms through 2024. 

As for the current Marvel lineup, Disney is in the process of reclaiming its licensed content from Netflix. Starting with Captain Marvel next year, new Marvel films will get their exclusive small-screen debuts on Disney’s new platform, leaving Ant-Man and the Wasp, most likely, as the last MCU film ever to find its way onto a streaming platform operated by a Disney competitor.

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