On March 20, 2019, The Walt Disney Company and Fox Corporation agreed on a deal that will give Fox $71.3 billion to sell their entertainment company (Fox) and other assets to Disney.
That means, simply, that there will be fewer movies coming out now.
“People assume that [Fox] will go away which would be a great loss to the industry because they’ve had a lot of involvement in movies over the years,” said Peter Howell, a Toronto star movie critic.
Globe and Mail film editor, Barry Hertz, said this deal is will harm the movie industry.
“I think it’s bad that any lessening of competition is a detriment to the industry and I think that conglomeration breeds complacency,” said Hertz.
Hertz also said that any amount of power with one company is a bad idea.
“I don’t think it’ll be good creatively and I don’t think it’ll be good for the business as you see layoffs within Fox. So, I think it’s bad news except for Disney shareholders,” said Hertz.
Dimitrios Latsis, a Ryerson University professor, said this could affect five to six percent of the workforce.
“I just read somewhere that a lot of layoffs around 3,000 employees as a result of the process of consolidating the two companies which has just started, so it’ll take about two years to complete,” said Latsis.
Latsis believes the movie audience wants more movies like Marvel than original movies like Get Out and Us.
“There’s a perception right now is that the public doesn’t want that because they want to see popcorn movies and movies based on properties that are already well known and you know, guaranteed to sell tickets,” said Latsis.
He also believes that fewer original movies will come out from Disney.
“I think there’s always original content, it just is very small in terms of resources they have,” he said.
Latsis said there will also be financial implications.
“With the deal taking place, Disney will now own one third maybe even more of the box office than any other company,” Latsis said.
There are many reasons Disney is acquiring the Fox assets, but the biggest reason according to Latsis, is to add the Fox film and TV library to its upcoming Disney+ streaming service that is expected to come out this Fall.
“What they have their eye on is a counterforce to Netflix. With this new platform, especially after they acquired Marvel but also Pixar and now with Fox, they are seeing that there is enough content there because that the other, kind of worry that they had,” said Latsis.
Disney+ is a streaming service that is similar to Netflix, but Disney+ will only have contents from Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Fox, and Disney’s own content.
Latsis wonders if the Disney streaming service would attract new subscribers.
“I’m a little skeptical in terms of this need to sign up for a thousand different platforms and how that will play out internationally because Netflix has already established a foothold and expanded,” said Latsis.
He also wonders if there’s subscription fatigue.
“I think people are tired of having to sign up for two, three, four, five different services,” he said.
Netflix and Crave TV will cost $ 8.99 while Hulu cost $ 7.99. The price for Disney+ hasn’t been announced yet but according to CNET, the price will be less than Netflix.
Latsis believes, that a major reason of the deal is to make more movies that have name recognition, instead of making original content.
“It’s no longer how it was in the seventies and eighties [when the Industry] was generating original content on TV and on movies,” said Latsis.
Howell compares the merger to the AOL-Time Warner merger.
“Time Warner was bought by America Online which at the time was the leading online entity and that proved to be a disaster for a whole bunch of reasons that they ultimately had to tear it apart,” said Howell.
The consequences could be even more widespread, Howell fears that with Disney+ coming soon, Disney movies will be online only instead of going to theatres.
“Even though theatrical is still pretty strong, there is a very real fear that a lot of theatrical will migrate online,” said Howell.
Latsis also believes that eventually all Disney movies will be online only.
“It’s not yet quite that, but when you have a company that’s gone that big, it reflects the kind of the trends of broader industry consolidation,” said Latsis.
He wonders if Disney has plans to broaden its monopoly even further.
“I’m waiting to see how that will play out globally because Disney is very close to monopolizing in North America but, not necessarily in other parts of the world,” said Latsis.
Howell is not impressed with the deal.
“Monopolies are always bad. There may be good for business but they’re always bad for consumers,” he said.