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What the Disney-Fox deal means for Marvel, 'Avatar,' and streaming

What the Disney-Fox deal means for Marvel, 'Avatar,' and streaming
Posted at 11:14 AM, Dec 14, 2017

Imagine finding Luke Skywalker, Captain America, the X-Men and the Na'vi of Pandora all housed in one streaming service. That's what a Disney streaming service could look like now that the company is buying up most of21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion deal.

The deal puts Fox's movie studio, 20th Century Fox, under the Disney umbrella, bringing with it the studio's intellectual property. Having 20th Century Fox's "X-Men" and "Avatar" under the same roof as Disney's "The Avengers" and "Star Wars" could have huge ramifications in both the streaming world and the film industry.

Disney announced in August that it will pull its content from Netflix, effectively ending its relationship with the streaming service to start its own in 2019. This means Netflix users will no longer be able to watch content from Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and Disney Animation.

The deal between the two media giants means that Disney's streaming service will include its own deep vault of intellectual property, as well as Fox's decades of popular franchises, which would most likely get pulled from streaming competitors. As much as this deal is about the content that Disney would be getting from Fox, it's also about content competitors like Netflix would not.

The deal also means Fox's stakes in Hulu now belong to Disney, which already has an equal stake along with Comcast. With a majority stake in Hulu, Disney could change the award-winning streaming service's offerings.

"A 'Disneyflix' with Lucasfilm + Marvel + Pixar + Disney Animation + Disney Channel + ABC + 20c Fox + FX would be ... attractive," tweeted Derek Thompson, a writer at The Atlantic, last month.

The deal with 21st Century Fox could also have a huge impact on one of Disney's most successful brands: Marvel Studios.

The superhero studios, which is coming off its 17th straight No. 1 opening with "Thor: Ragnarok" last month, is home to pretty much every major Marvel superhero from Iron Man to Doctor Strange. However, Disney's Marvel doesn't own the rights to the comic brand's most beloved team of mutants, the X-Men, or its original super team, the Fantastic Four, or its raunchy antihero, Deadpool, whose debut movie made $783 million globally last year.

But Fox does own those franchises, having wound up with the rights after Marvel shed them years ago amid financial difficulties.

Disney will likely incorporate those characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe slate of films. This could not only put the X-Men side by side with the Avengers — giving Hollywood opportunities for new films — but it could give the decade-old brand a chance to build its next phase with a set of new, yet familiar characters.

Another film brand that could see a big impact from the deal is "Avatar."

"Pandora - The World of Avatar"opened at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, in May. The massive attraction, which reportedly cost in the range of half a billion dollars, expands on the world James Cameron created in his blockbuster.

That film was released by Fox in 2009 and went on to nab $2.7 billion worldwide making it the biggest film in history.

Cameron is planning multiple sequels over the next decade (although the release dates have been in flux). With Disney absorbing Fox's studio, this could allow a seamless synergy between Disney's new land and the new slate of "Avatar" films.