After weeks of rumors, one of the biggest deals in pop culture history is done: Disney has agreed to buy the vast majority of 21st Century Fox. According to a press release, the deal is worth roughly $52.4 billion.

Disney will not acquire the Fox News channel, Fox Business, Fox broadcast network, or FS1 sports network. Those businesses will reportedly be spun off into a new entity. Pretty much everything else that Fox controls goes to Disney, including the 20th Century Fox film (makers of films like Avatar and X-Men) and television studios (The Simpsons, This Is Us, Modern Family), FX Networks, and National Geographic. Obviously Disney has its own film and television production facilities; the New York Times says those operations may be “downsized, with some operations folded into Walt Disney Studios or refocused to make films designed for online distribution.”

The Times article on the news emphases the importance of the deal to the companies’ online futures. Part of the purchase includes Fox’s share of the streaming site Hulu, which Disney now has majority control over. And with Disney preparing to launch its own streaming services in the near future — one for ESPN and one for movie properties like Disney, Pixar, and Marvel — this gives them even more content to offer customers in order to compete with tech companies like Netflix and Apple.

The press release touts the fact that the X-Men, Fantastic, Four, and Deadpool franchises are now under Marvel’s control, meaning it’s all but guaranteed those characters will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whether it’s sooner or later. If all you care about are seeing all the Marvel characters in one movie together, or having an X-Men ride at Magic Kingdom, then this is great news.

But the bigger picture, at least for movie fans, may not necessarily be as bright. If 20th Century Fox is folded into Disney, we could see significantly fewer films of all shapes and sizes. Many of the best mid-level movies of the past several years came from Fox Searchlight, including Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water this year alone. If that studio gets “downsized” it could be a huge blow to film fans. That’s just one example.

The ultimate cost or benefit won’t be known for some time. But, pending regulator approval, the deal is now done. And what you movies and television shows you watch — and perhaps how you watch them — will never be the same.

Gallery – The Best Marvel Movie Posters:


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