It was a rough news week for Disney. The one bright spot was a story about how Disney and 21st Century Fox have been in on-again, off-again talks for its studio division. That news was largely positive. The rest of the week – not so much. Thor: Ragnarok became the 14th Marvel movie to pass $500 million at the global box office, but that news was overshadowed by Disney’s incredibly misguided blackout of the LA Times. And let’s not even get started on Disney’s disappointing 4th quarter results. That said, let’s start with the good news.
Disney In Talks To Buy 21st Century Fox Studio Division
21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Walt Disney Co., excluding the news, sports and national network channel. According to people familiar with the situation, the talks have taken place over the last few weeks and there is no certainty they will lead to a deal. The two sides are not currently talking at this very moment, but they could easily be restarted.
The potential deal holds advantages for both sides. Fox wants to focus its properties around news and sports. Disney wants to control the world of streaming. This deal would allow both to accomplish these goals.
If Disney were to buy Fox, the studio would have a majority stake in Hulu and be in a much more favorable position to compete with Netflix. In fact, the “battle” with Netflix would likely be over before it officially started. If Fox and Disney were combined for all of 2017, Disney would already have released 25 movies and earned a collective $2.6 billion in revenue just from the domestic take. That doesn’t include revenue from Fox Searchlight which would also be part of the deal.
It is worth noting that the deal would also decrease the number of major studios from six to five. Some fans are concerned that a Disney-owned fox would mean the end of R-rated movies. That’s a bit of a stretch for me. R-rated movies have become less popular amongst moviegoers over the past 20 years, but I don’t think Disney has any interest in making a PG-13 Deadpool – especially given the things Marvel currently puts on Netflix.
The biggest problem I see with this merger is that it would decrease the separation of power. Disney already holds a phenomenal amount of power in the industry. Sometimes it goes to their head. Even if they leave Fox alone, the studio will still be controlled by the same people who control Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Ultimately, the stories that group wants to tell will get told, leaving less room for other stories.
Disney’s L.A. Times Blackout Backfires. Bad.
Thor: Ragnarok became Marvel’s 12th consecutive film to pass $500 million at the global box office. It is the 14th time a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has hit that milestone. Instead of talking about what they saw in Ragnarok, critics couldn’t stop talking about what the LA Times didn’t see.
In response to an unfavorable business story, Disney decided to block the LA Times from the critic’s screening of Ragnarok. It was a horrible decision and Disney eventually backpeddled after several critics made their displeasure known.
The New York Times and the A.V. Club, said they were boycotting advance screenings of Disney films in solidarity with the LA Times. The company also faced pressure from several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed “A Wrinkle in Time.” On Tuesday, members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics denounced Disney’s blackout of The Los Angeles Times. Each group voted to disqualify Disney’s movies from year-end award consideration unless the blackout was “publicly rescinded.”
In a statement, Disney said, “We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.”
The truly dumb thing about this is that Disney didn’t ask for any corrections to the story. It never publicly stated what facts it felt were wrong. Through Disney’s blackout, a story that was released in September became the most-read story on the LA Times business section on Nov. 3. Really smart Disney.
New ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy Covers Up Bad Fourth Quarter Results
Disney announced its 4th quarter earnings on Thursday. Earnings Per Share for the quarter decreased 3% from $1.10 in 2016 to $1.07. Excluding certain items affecting comparability(1), EPS for the year decreased from $5.72 in 2016 to $5.70. Year-over-year total revenues was down 1 percent to $55.1 Billion. Revenues across all of the segments dropped, except parks and resorts.
That said, Bob Iger pulled off the ultimate Jedi mind trick on investors by mentioning the bad news first and then announcing a new Star Wars trilogy. Iger said Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will write and direct the first one. That’s not all Star Wars fans have to get excited about, however: Iger also teased a live-action Star Wars TV show, which will be coming to Disney’s own subscription streaming service, with a target premiere date for the show by the end of 2019.
In addition, Disney will launch a Monsters, Inc. adaptation, a High School Musical show and one original series from Marvel’s world of superheroes. Iger also said that pricing for Disney’s streaming service will be “substantially below” that of Netflix currently. Finally, Iger confirmed the company is closer to launching ESPN Plus – the new ESPN streaming service – in Spring.
Why Black Panther Must Have an Accent
It seems like a small detail. T’challa, the leader of Wakanda and the alter ego to superhero “Black Panther,” has an accent. You may think this is simply the result of him coming from the fictional African country of Wakanda. In reality, actor Chadwick Boseman had a much deeper reason for giving the character an accent. From an interview with CNET, Boseman said:
[Wakanda is] supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. If it’s supposed to not have been conquered — which means that advancement has happened without colonialism tainting it, poisoning the well of it, without stopping it or disrupting it — then there’s no way he would speak with a European accent.
If I did that, I would be conveying a white supremacist idea of what being educated is and what being royal or presidential is. Because it’s not just about him running around fighting. He’s the ruler of a nation. And if he’s the ruler of a nation, he has to speak to his people. He has to galvanize his people. And there’s no way I could speak to my people, who have never been conquered by Europeans, with a European voice.
Want more Disney news? Check out our episode this week. You can listen to it below.