Disney closes its $71.3B Fox acquisition

As of 12:02am Eastern today, Disney has closed its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

The goal of the enormous deal is to help Disney position itself for a streaming-centric future. The company has already taken a step in that direction with the ESPN+ streaming service, and it has plans to launch another service called Disney+ later this year, which will include new shows based on the Star Wars and Marvel universes, as well as Disney’s entire movie library.

With the Fox acquisition, Disney has even more films, TV shows and intellectual property to draw on — as indicated by the redesigned lead image on the Disney corporate website, which now features “The Shape of Water,” “Avatar” and “Deadpool” (all Fox films), as well as “The Simpsons” and “Atlanta” (which are produced by Fox studios and air on Fox networks). It also becomes the majority owner of Hulu, with CEO Bob Iger (pictured above) saying that Disney will invest in more original content for Hulu and help it expand internationally.

In addition, the deal solidifies Disney’s already dominant position in Hollywood, as seemingly the one studio that can still reliably draw massive audiences to movie theaters. Thanks to its previous acquisitions of Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney has had the No. 1 movie at the worldwide box office for each of the past four years, and in 2018, it released three of the top four films, while Fox had two movies in the top 10.

Even after Disney won its bidding war with Comcast last year by making an offer of $71.3 billion, the deal has still taken nine months to gain all the necessary regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, Fox’s news and sports divisions — including Fox News, the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports — have spun out as a new Fox Corporation, and the acquisition is expected to result in more than 4,000 layoffs.

“I wish I could tell you that the hardest part is behind us; that closing the deal was the finish line, rather than just the next milestone,” Iger said in a staff memo. “What lies ahead is the challenging work of uniting our businesses to create a dynamic, global entertainment company.”