Film & Water #124: Disney Buys Fox

THE FILM & WATER PODCAST

Episode 124: Movie Talk: Disney Buys Fox

To end 2017, Rob welcomes back David “Ace” Gutierrez for another Movie Talk episode, discussing Disney’s recent purchase of 20th Century Fox!

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11 responses to “Film & Water #124: Disney Buys Fox

  1. I’m going to jump around on things you touched on that I have thoughts on.

    I think there’s a few things worth bringing up. I don’t see Disney shelving the existing R rated products out of fear of that rating. Disney has released R rated films before (under Touchstone, but still.) That said, I think what we’re unlikely to see until there’s some clear internal restructuring and some firmer walls between different divisions of the company is the development of any new R rated properties.

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that this could have gone much worse. Let us not forget that this wasn’t Disney approaching Fox (which lots of people seem to be forgetting when they talk about this.) This was Fox having already made the decision to sell and streamline itself, with Disney being one of three companies they were talking to that we know of. One of those was Verizon. Can you imagine if an ISP got control over the Fox library? Oh, you want to stream Planet of the Apes on your phone? Do you use Verizon as your carrier? No? Well that’s too bad for you then. I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in the “DISNEY CONSUMES ALL” narrative, which misses that this was really a case of Fox having a yard sale and taking the best offer.

    As for why Fox sold, it’s not that they were in trouble but rather they looked down the line and didn’t see a world they could win in. They saw what Disney was planning and what Amazon and Netflix and a bunch of others are gearing up to do and said “we can’t compete on the field they’re building.” So rather than have a working studio slowly decrease in value as they failed to play at the same level, they sold it off while it still was worth something so they could focus on the areas they actually dominate in (news and sports.) From a business angle, it’s surprisingly forward thinking. Not saying I love the move, but they reasons they’ve given for it make quite a bit of sense.

    Everything about the Marvel movies is pointing to them NOT recasting these characters. That’s why they’re bringing up so many newer characters who (they hope) can carry things down the line. And now that they’ve got partial ownership on Spider-Man and control of X-Men back, they have the ability to have a number of premiere characters to pick up the slack. It’s also part of why there have been so many new takes on characters in the comics. It’s a test kitchen for mantle passes that can be done in the movies if they work.

    And yeah Rob, you cited the EXACT reason I don’t buy digital movies. Ever. (I’ll go digital for music, but I get to download those files and never leave them on the cloud.) If I REALLY love something enough to want access to it in perpetuity, I buy it physically. I’ll still stream, but that comfortably fits into a “rental” mindset for me.

    1. Oh, and I’ve seen glowing reviews for The Disaster Artist from people who’ve never seen the Room. I think you really only need to know that a terrible movie called the Room exists. The impression I get is you don’t have to actually have seen it (though you may get more if you have, which I’d argue is also true of Ed Wood.)

  2. Of course, all the Marvel superheroes will be recast eventually. These heroes need to be reinvigorated with each new generation of fans and creators. If we can have 6 James Bonds, 6 Batmen, 6 Supermen 3 Spider-Men, and reboots of old franchises, why wouldn’t they recast Downey, Hemsworth, Evans, etc when they age out of the roles? I really enjoyed Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, but 17 years of 1 actor playing the part is enough. I firmly believe that it’s primarily the characters and not the actors who sell the tickets. Most of the non-Marvel films that Hemsworth and the others have done in recent years have not been all that successful in recent years. There are a lot of buff young actors who can wear these costumes when the time comes.

    These characters are ripe for reinterpretation as much onscreen as on the page. What looks cool to us now will surely seem old hat to kids in the not too distant future. I really started to feel old when one my college undergrad students said he like to read “old books” like Harry Potter. I’m confident that if we live long enough we will see Uncle Ben & the Waynes die, Krypton explode, Harry Potter enroll in Hogwarts and Cap get frozen in that block of ice all over again on the big or small screen.

  3. I’m very curious how Disney will treat the Fox catalog. Disney doesn’t seem interested in anything produced beyond a decade and that’s stuff they already own. I can only imagine Disney being even less interested in “ancient” Fox titles like Sunrise or In Old Arizona.

  4. Interesting conversation, gentlemen.
    Personally, this whole thing gives me the same uneasy feeling that I had when I heard about Disney acquiring Marvel or Lucasfilm, etc. I’m just not fond of all of this consolidation, regardless of the potential short-term or long-term benefits to certain properties I may like.
    Which leads me to my next point: about the only good thing I can see coming out of this from my limited perspective is that the possibility of the Fantastic Four getting folded into the Marvel Cinematic U.
    I never heard that pitch for an FF movie you guys mentioned, but I’ve long thought that the way to go with the FF is period piece, set in the early 1960s. In any case, I don’t think the origin was the stumbling block that made the FF films we have so, um, … not good; it was just the overall poor scripts, the off-putting way certain characters were written, and several questionable casting choices (mainly, I’m thinking about Alba in the first two, and that guy that played Reed in the latest one – can’t be bothered to look his name up).

    Ed Wood, by the way, can be thoroughly enjoyed with no previous knowledge of the actual guy or his films; I first watched it with my significant other, born and raised in Croatia, who had never heard of him or seen anything done by him, and she found it absolutely delightful regardless.

  5. I will admit I only considered the fanboy pluses of the merger, not the downside. Corporate homogenization seems to be the way things are going. Disney is assuring the future of Wall-E is going to be real. 😉

    I haven’t embraced digital purchases, and now I’m glad I haven’t! That’s total BS. Being a collector type I like having a physical object to hold. I guess I’ll just have to hold on to a Blu-Ray player friendly TV set-up from now until I croak.

    Nice discussion gents!

    Chris

  6. Guys, great episode. It was interesting what your take was on the merger.

    My thoughts:

    These film companies are merging together because new media is changing the landscape of entertainment. The Netflix formula will start becoming more popular for studio companies. So Disney buying Fox will get more media for their DisneyFlix (I made that up) service. Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, Simpson’s no longer on Netflix only on DisneyFlix. Awful for consumers because they have to pay for two services or more. Good for the entertainment industry because more TV shows will be produce. From a TV show industry with Netflix,Amazon,Hulu producing tv shows- there is so much work out there. Maybe not in LA but in NYC it’s crazy!

    Finally, I think this era of Super Heroes is going to end. I think it peaked last year. I heard from some people that have youn kids that they are not into Superheros anymore. They don’t even want them in the lunchboxes. I suspect we will always have superheroes in media, but it will be way fewer. Then maybe one or two generations later it will come back.

    I am just amazed at this era. Remember being a nerd you were certain be beat up by the class bully? Playing D&D was this secretive nerd thing. Now it has gone bananas.

    1. PS – I typed this all on my phone so my writing was like it was written by Tommy Wiseau. Btw – Who is an auteur!!

  7. Fascinating discussion. Both Rob’s and David’s comments rang true from a similar situation that I lived through.

    I’m a computer programmer, and for 4 years, I worked for a computer game development studio. It was pretty cool, and we got by. Then Electronic Arts (EA) bought the company. If you google horror stories about EA, they’re about right. They paid us well, but as soon as they decided we weren’t making enough money, we all got laid off. So hearing about ~1500 jobs at risk from Disney/Fox buyout doesn’t surprise me. It stinks, but that’s what big companies will do. I do fear the day when these companies become practically monopolies. It makes me want to fight for net neutrality and support small-scale creators all the more.

    On the fanboy front, I don’t see bigger crossovers in Marvel movies happening. They’re just not practical. The crossovers work in comics because there’s less overhead: a writer and an artist just put in all the characters they want. Sure, if you care about continuity, there’s more to it, but there’s no financial or personnel overhead. So it probably will calm down after Infinity War.

    However! A different angle is animated TV shows and movies! Could the X-Men appear in the Avengers cartoon? Hell to the “yes”! And with good voice actors able to do multiple roles, the cost can be kept down and you’re back to the animators putting the characters in. Or what if Disney starts making animated superhero movies? Big Hero 6
    and Lego Batman Movie were lots of fun and did well (I think), so I have to wonder if the Mouse is considering producing animated movies with Marvel characters. Somebody’s gotta be looking into it.

    Anyway, great stuff, guys. Happy New iTunes! (stinking digital. wait, I’m a programmer. uhhh……)

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