The House of Mouse wins again.
Comcast announced Thursday that it will drop its pursuit of the 21st Century Fox assets that it was fighting over with Disney.
“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
Comcast had bid $65 billion for Fox’s movie studio, which is responsible for franchises like Avatar, Planet of the Apes and X-Men, along with Fox’s regional sports networks and cable channels like FX and National Geographic. Disney’s most recent bid was $71 billion.
The battle with Disney however is not completely done yet: Comcast said Thursday it will continue to pursue its bid for British broadcaster Sky, which Disney is also trying to purchase through Fox. Comcast has offered $34 billion for that company.
A Comcast takeover of Sky would deprive Fox, and thus Disney, of a major direct-to-consumer platform in Europe that Iger has described as a “crown jewel” of the Fox assets.
“I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company,” Comcast chief Brian Roberts said in a statement.
The bidding war between Iger and Roberts had become one of the most closely followed stories among Hollywood executives, given the sheer scale of the acquisition and the two men’s well-known dislike for one another.
By winning the war for Fox, Disney will now have arguably the most formidable content portfolio in all of Hollywood, adding to an already impressive stable that includes Marvel, Pixar and LucasFilm.
The deal between the two media giants means that Disney’s in-development streaming service will include its own deep vault of intellectual property (including other studios like Fox Searchlight), as well as Fox’s decades of popular franchises, which would most likely get pulled from streaming competitors. As much as this deal is about the content that Disney would be getting from Fox, it’s also about content competitors like Netflix would not.
The deal also means Fox’s stakes in Hulu now belong to Disney, which already has an equal stake along with Comcast. With a majority stake in Hulu, Disney could change the award-winning streaming service’s offerings.
Disney is also expected to unite (most) of the Marvel Universe once the deal goes through, bringing classic characters like Deadpool, The Fantastic Four and The X-Men, back under the Marvel roof.
Disney will likely incorporate those characters into their ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe slate of films. This could not only put the X-Men side by side with the Avengers — giving Hollywood opportunities for new films — but it could give the decade-old brand a chance to re-build its next phase with a set of new, yet familiar characters.
Additionally, Disney is reportedly keen on the Avatar franchise, mostly in part due to director James Cameron having already partnered with Disney for “Pandora – The World of Avatar” an attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Cameron is planning multiple sequels over the next decade and with Disney absorbing Fox’s studio, this could allow a seamless synergy between Disney’s new land and the new slate of “Avatar” films.