The ‘megamerger’ will reshuffle valuable IP assets, opening the door for new creative ventures previously blocked by IP ownership disputes.

As announced in mid-December 2017, The Walt Disney Company will acquire most assets of rival studio 20th Century Fox, including valuable movie properties like the X-Men franchise and high-profile TV shows including Modern Family and The Simpsons. The deal is valued at around $66billion (around £49billion) and will reportedly give the Disney studios a new lease of life in their fight against modern streaming rivals Netflix, Amazon and Google.

Following the acquisition of its creative assets, Fox will restructure its operations to focus on its broadcast networks, including news and major live sports events in the USA. A statement from Lachlan Murdoch (son of James Murdoch) notes that ‘the new Fox is about returning to our roots as a lean, aggressive, challenger brand’.

Besides the general increase in Disney’s creative scope that this deal will bring, fans of movie franchises based on Marvel comics, including The Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four, have welcomed the news – as it raises the possibility of these characters appearing on screen together for the first time. Marvel comics – purchased by Disney in 2009 – had previously licensed movie rights to various studios, resulting in the fragmented, separate cinematic universes that exist today. Following the acquisition by Disney, Marvel has been trying to get its rights back. But rival studios, including 20th Century Fox and Sony, have generally refused to give them up – apart from the recent (and relatively unusual) deal between Sony and Disney to share rights to Spider-Man, and the compromise between Disney and 20th Century Fox over the use of X-Men and Avengers characters Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch.

Thanks to this new deal, various characters and franchises are coming back under the Disney/Marvel umbrella, which may lead to new on-screen collaborations and adventures. This is a potentially very lucrative area for Disney/Marvel given the popularity and success of superhero movies over the past decade.

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