It’s official: Disney agrees to buy key parts of 21st Century Fox in $52.4 Billion Deal: The Walt Disney Company has finalized a $52.4-billion deal to buy much of Rupert Murdoch’s entertainment empire, a blockbuster union that would radically transform Hollywood into a land of fewer giants. Read more about this in the L.A Times article HERE.
It’s a colossal deal that gives Disney control over the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Simpsons, the upcoming Avatar movies, a number of TV channels including FX and National Geographic, several powerhouse international satellite channels such as Star India and Sky Italia, a host of U.S. regional sports outlets and a majority stake in Hulu. For Brits, the acquisition has another implication: Disney could soon own Sky. That’s because 21st Century Fox is trying to buy the TV provider for roughly £18.5 billion at the moment. Read more about this on Engadget HERE
The deal makes Disney a behemoth of the type entertainment has never seen before and sets the stage for a battle with Silicon Valley titans like Netflix, Apple and Google. The conglomerate is building up scale in the hope of fending off those firms’ forays into the content market; it is also stockpiling content for a new streaming service that it hopes will stem a tide of cord-cutting that has afflicted properties like ESPN. Read more about this in The Washington Post article HERE.
So is it a done deal? Yes and no. Yes, because Iger and Murdoch have signed, and “no” because U.S regulators and shareholders must still approve the Disney-Fox deal, though analysts do not expect it to face problems. In a very different scenario, the DOJ is currently suing AT&T to stop its acquisition of Time Warner, noting concerns about the marriage of a distributor and content provider, but the AT&T – Time Warner deal include CNN that Trump hate. Murdock being a friend of Trump, the deal with Disney should be seen more favorably by the Trump administration. That said, U.S regulators still must give their approval and it can take up to one YEAR.
And now, let’s talk about what effect the deal could have on Disney theme parks, would we? The last time Disney spent a big amount of money was of course on buying Marvel, Lucasfilm and then the construction of Shanghaî Disneyland. And we all know what happened for Disney Parks, don’t we? For years U.S fans had to wait for the announcement of new rides and lands because, hey, there’s always a point where you have to stop spending money, even Disney. Shanghaî Disneyland opened in 2016 and since many announcements were done, Avatar land opened and two Star Wars lands are currently being built and will open in 2019. The last D23 was also a great time for Disney parks fans with multiple announcements. But here the $52.4 deal represents at least ten times the cost of Shanghaî Disneyland, and it will be surprising if it wouldn’t have any effect on the future of Disney parks. So, let’s see for each park if this Disney – Fox deal put some of the announced projects in jeopardy.
Disneyland: no effect at all for Star Wars land which will open in 2019 as scheduled.
Disney California Adventure: All what was announced already – including the new Pixar Pier ( see article below ) will be done. But i’m not sure that what is in the plans for DCA including the rumored Marvel land won’t be delayed.
WDW Magic Kingdom: All what has been announced will be done, including the TRON ride and the huge theatre near Main Street.
Epcot: Same, all what is announced will be done, let’s see if others rumored projects will be delayed or not.
Animal Kingdom: With the opening on Avatar land and its huge cost, Disney has spent a huge amount of money on this park, so i wouldn’t bet that there will be any new “major” attraction anytime soon.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: With the opening next year of Toy Story land and Star Wars land in 2019 then the Mickey ride in the former Chinese Theatre DHS has plenty of rides already announced and in construction, so it’s safe to say that the future looks bright for the DHS. And not to forget the previously announced Star Wars hotel rumored to be built near the park.
Hong Kong Disneyland: Here, too, plenty of new attractions and lands have been announced and are currently in construction and there shouldn’t be anything cancelled, as all these have been also approved, including financially, by the Hong Kong Government who will pay for a big part of the new rides, lands and even a new castle.
Shanghaî Disneyland: Toy Story land will open next Spring, and nothing else so far has been announced. My guess is that SDL fans might have to wait some years before getting additional rides, but may be a new hotel or an expansion of the Shanghaî Disneyland Hotel could be announced.
Tokyo Disney Resort: Here every project is even more safe as it is not the WDC which pays for them but Oriental Land. All projects previously announced will go on and we’re waiting for the BIG expansion announcement next June.
And, as usual, the one still waiting for a bright future is Disneyland Paris Resort. DLP Imagineering is currently working on plenty of different projects – mainly for an expansion of the Walt Disney Studios, but not only – and the question is: will the Disney – Fox deal have an effect on what they’re working on, or not? Let’s say that i wouldn’t be surprised if some of what they have in plans would be cancelled, or at least delayed. Part of the expansion projects have already been approved by the Disney Board but it doesn’t mean that some of the rides or land couldn’t been cancelled.
The good point here is that Disney now owns the parks and resort and Iger is fully aware of the DLP problem, meaning that there won’t be any better financial results for DLP without a massive expansion plan, especially for the WDS. In two words, the Marvel land and the rides and shows which goes with it are most probably safe and shouldn’t be cancelled. And you can count probably too on a Star Wars land, because it’s pure logic to build a Star Wars land in Europe more than anywhere else out of the U.S, as the continent have legions of fans since 40 years.
But others projects that i’ve been told may be put on hold, and for quite a while. We’ll know for sure when the long awaited announcement about DLP future will happen. It was rumored for this fall, then this December but from what i’ve been told it will not happen before next Spring, hopefully for DLP next anniversary? In the meantime DLP fans still have to do what they’re now doing since 15 years: crossing their fingers that, finally, the awaited announcement will be at the height of their expectations.