To use superhero parlance, Disney’s nemesis just gave up. Comcast, the only real rival to Disney’s planned acquisition of Fox, announced on Thursday that it’s dropping out of the bidding war, meaning that the House of Mouse will almost certainly purchase Fox. This news has been the cause of some celebration, as superhero fans are excited that the X-Men and Fantastic Four will finally be able to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But, the merger also means that pop culture will be even more monopolized by an unfathomably huge corporation, and thousands of real people are going to lose their jobs, so maybe temper the fanfare just a little bit, okay?
“Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” the company said in a statement, according to Variety. Sky, the Fox-owned British broadcaster, is the only remaining point of conflict between Disney and Comcast, because the latter is still interested in purchasing Sky, though there are no major IP ramifications if Disney doesn’t grab Sky.
With Comcast’s exit, it’s looking like Disney will purchase the bulk of Fox’s properties, including the rights to the X-Men, Fantastic Four, the Alien franchise, and Avatar.
It’s a comic fan’s dream, though not one without several downsides. From a creative standpoint, the merger could lead to a cinema landscape where smaller, original films are all but totally crowded out, as Logan director James Mangold worried. It’s also possible that Disney will be hesitant to keep making R-rated fare like Deadpool or will muck around with the more mature shows on FX.
Also, real people will lose their jobs so that some fictional superheroes can finally meet on the big screen. In December of last year, an analyst predicted that the merger would cost between 5,000 and 10,000 people their jobs, according to Deadline
“Disney expects over $2 billion in synergies from the Fox acquisition, with the overwhelming majority of that from cost-savings – meaning job cuts,” analyst Rich Greenfield wrote. “In order to reduce costs by upwards of $2 billion, we believe Disney will need to cut well-over 5,000 jobs and the number could easily swell toward 10,000 given the high degree of overlap between the two companies around the world.”
There’s no definitive timeline on when, exactly, this whole merger would go into effect, but barring anything crazy, it’s probably happening. Enjoy the prospect of an Avengers 5 featuring the X-Men, but also recognize that what cheerleading for a multi-billion-dollar corporation’s purchase of another giant company means in the real world, not just in fiction.
Disney and Fox shareholders are set to vote on the deal on July 27.