The future of additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be decided in the escalating battle between Walt Disney Studios and Comcast (parent company of NBC Universal, which owns SYFY WIRE) for ownership of Fox’s entertainment assets.
If Disney, whose original $52.4 billion all-stock offer Fox accepted last year, is awarded the assets, it will mean a reunion between the Marvel properties Fox controls (X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool) and most of the rest of the Marvel catalog, which already is controlled by Disney (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and more).
If, on the other hand, Comcast is awarded, it would mean these very same characters would NOT be in the Disney family, making any entries of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe unlikely.
As 21st Century Fox’s board of directors prepares this Wednesday to weigh Comcast’s $65 billion cash offer, things could move quickly. That’s especially true for Comcast, which, according to federal law and provisos already written into Fox’s initial Disney agreement, will be seen as the pursuing party with the greatest burden in proving the worth of its rival offer.
If Fox’s board likes Comcast’s $65 billion offer enough to give it an up vote this week, Disney will have five business days to make a counteroffer. It may seem like a tight window, but it still puts Disney in the enviable position of having the final opportunity at making a pitch.
“If Disney returns with a counter bid Fox likes, the ball is back in Comcast’s court… But unlike Disney, Comcast wouldn’t have the luxury of time,” reports The New York Times.
Fox chair Rupert Murdoch and his family have the luxury of inserting a bit of gamesmanship into the negotiations, NYT adds, a tactic that could send Fox’s day-to-day stock values higher as the company’s assets appear more and more desirable in such a high-profile competition. But if Disney returns to Fox with an appealing offer of its own, it’ll be up to Comcast — not Disney — to act fast.
“That’s because it [Comcast] has to negotiate within the confines of the merger agreement already laid out between Disney and Fox, which has built in some protections for Disney, specifically what is known as the right of last refusal,” NYT reports. “In other words, Disney will always have a chance to counter Comcast until it decides it has had enough.”
Disney already is reportedly preparing to add a stack of cash to its original Fox offer if it’ll help persuade Fox to stay the course. With 21st Century Fox’s big meeting just around the corner, it won’t be long before we know how committed Disney is to bringing all of Fox’s iconic brands — whether The Simpsons, or American Horror Story, or all those Marvel holdouts — under the mouse’s umbrella.