21st Century Fox appears set on selling its movie studio and other media assets and if the company gets its way, Disney will be the buyer. Bloomberg reports that the Murdoch family hopes to reach a decision on the sale of every asset at 21st Century Fox—outside of its news, network broadcast, and sports divisions—by the end of the year. Comcast is still a suitor, but Fox would prefer to sell to Disney.
Fox reportedly prefers Disney because the latter is a better strategic fit and will have an easier time clearing regulatory hurdles compared to other potential buyers. Comcast is still in play, but Fox also hopes that selling to Disney will get Fox’s current chief executive officer, James Murdoch, a job with the Mouse House. I’m not sure if Disney will go for that, but the Murdochs could become very large Disney shareholders.
The 21st Century Fox asset of most interest to Marvel Studios fans is Fox’s movie studio. Fox currently holds the movie rights to X-Men, Deadpool, Fantastic Four, and related Marvel franchises. Disney purchasing Fox’s movie studio would bring those characters home to Marvel Studios, allowing them to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now that Marvel Studios is successfully partnering with Sony Pictures on the use of Spider-Man, a deal with Fox would give virtually every Marvel Comics character potential place in the MCU. That is huge, but obviously a deal like this has much more to consider than superhero movies and shared universes.
Even if the Murdochs succeed in reaching a decision by the end of the year with Disney as Fox’s buyer, fans should not expect the X-Men or Deadpool in the MCU right away. There can be months and even years in between the time a purchase agreement is reached, the sale goes through government regulation, and the integration of the purchased assets into the buyer’s company is complete.
And if you’re worried about Disney blocking the release of the R-rated Deadpool 2, don’t be. None of this is going to happen fast enough to prevent fans from getting the next raunchy adventure of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds).