There’s a lot going on here.
First thing’s first kids, don’t be holding your breath for that X-Men invasion into the MCU just yet, Bob Iger from Disney has already said that he expects regulatory hurdles for the $52 billion dollar Disney buyout of 20th Century FOX (which includes the FX Networks, Nat Geo, Sky, and both Film and TV houses) to take 18 months to get by regulatory approvals of which, Time-Warner/AT&T can attest, is no easy feat. In a Trump administration, don’t be surprised if this deal takes even longer.
So what does this mean for the adult animation industry moving forward and what are some of the pitfalls of the deal? Well, that’s what has most content producers rather worried. Disney isn’t fond of Rated-R films or adult animation, never have been, so popular FOX franchises like Alien, Predator, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and more could all be in trouble. Let’s break it down with best case/worst case scenarios:
40% of Hulu, now part of Disney thanks to the FOX acquisition. Hulu, a streaming service that currently features Rick and Morty, Robot Chicken, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, South Park, Futurama, and a slew of others immediately gives Disney access to a streaming adult animation audience that Hulu was willing to fork over a ton of money for. The Simpsons will likely part its catalog from FXX and be sent to Hulu, giving the streaming service some of the biggest franchises of the vertical ever. With Netflix building up an adult animation library of its own that features stalwarts like F is for Family, Big Mouth, BoJack Horseman, a bunch of anime, and more on the way, don’t be surprised if previously canceled FOX properties get a new lease on life.
Disney will be well aware who is watching what, and if they hear a rabid fanbase looking for new episodes of say Futurama, they very well could deliver directly to Hulu. Today, Hulu isn’t a strong player in original adult animation content, it used to be, but not anymore. Focusing instead on acquisitions, Hulu has built a stellar library of adult animation that could be important.
So, let’s say, FOX Broadcasting decides to clean house, cancel everything on FOX local networks. The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, you name it. Hulu could potentially be a new home for new episodes for one if not all of those shows. That said, one could also envision a scenario in which Turner Networks or Viacom/Comedy Central could potentially lineup to try and take a piece of the 20th Century FOX original animation pie by offering lucrative syndication deals in exchange for first broadcast rights on new content.
Netflix’s Marvel franchises actually give me a ray of hope that characters from a Disney-owned property can flourish and be rather independent when it comes to delivery. Daredevil, Luke Cage, The Punisher, and The Defenders are all series that feature sex, violence, drugs, and decent soundtracks that don’t feature Idina Menzel, so if that’s status quo for 20th Century FOX, then I’m all in.
By the way, I hope this purchase merges the FX/FXX/FXM brands into one network because having all three is nonsensical.
As mentioned, FOX Broadcasting could clean house. If they do, Disney could terrify fans of Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons, and Family Guy by canceling all three, sending them to a Hulu graveyard, and essentially put a “Rest In Peace” sign on the corpse of the illustrious history of prime-time animation which has been a standard in television since the 1960s.
But what if Disney does something WAY worse. What if they decide to keep all three shows, but showcase their “creative influence” by forcing all three active 20th Century FOX series to be more “family friendly”. The Simpsons attractions from Orlando studios could be removed and may be sent to Disney World, but I doubt it. Can you really imagine a Moe’s Tavern sitting next to Mickey Mouse walk-around characters? Remember those Family Guy, “Disney is anti-semitic” jokes? Whoooops! Also, will 20th Century FOX have the spine or patience to deal with bitchy fans of The Simpsons or voice actor contract disputes under a Disney umbrella?
Disney traditionally doesn’t support rated-R content, so remember that Deadpool series coming to FXX? At best it may get a season or two during this 18-month waiting period, but don’t be surprised if Disney axes that so fast that it would make even Deadpool’s head spin. Cussing and extreme violence are no-nos for Disney broadcast television or theatrical movies, and as such movies featuring The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers could be in danger of happening. Also, lest we forget that American Dad! airs on a Turner Network…that could change.
But, we’re not even on the WORST CASE scenarios for the Disney-FOX deal. The worst part of the deal could be that 20th Century FOX no longer does development deals with new and up and coming adult animation producers. With Disney-FOX movie and TV studios under one roof, that’s one less viable producer to count on for talent deals. I can’t tell you how many producers I’ve talked to over the years, that even if they DON’T get picked up for series on FOX broadcasting, the 20th Century FOX animation producers are such that they will actually work with and give advice to producers to help them make a pitch more presentable to other broadcasters willing to take a shot.
A lot of people could potentially lose their jobs here. All of those shows I mentioned help keep the bills paid for a lot of animation producers, writers, storyboard artists, voice actors, etc. And let’s not forget that with the merger, Disney-FOX will be looking to dedup a lot of staff job positions as well, so your PR staff, your sales staff, all of that could be affected after this merger.
Is all this worth having a near 60-year-old Hugh Jackman have another go at “Wolverine” for the MCU by the time this thing officially wraps?