Brooks Barnes | The New York Times | December 14, 2017
LOS ANGELES – The Walt Disney Company said on Thursday that it had reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4 billion.
While the agreement is subject to the approval of antitrust regulators – and the Justice Department recently moved to block a big media company from becoming even bigger – the once unthinkable acquisition promises to reshape Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It is the biggest counterattack from a traditional media company against the tech giants that have aggressively moved into the entertainment business.
Disney now has enough muscle to become a true competitor to Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the fast-growing realm of online video.
At the same time, the agreement means that one of moviedom’s most celebrated studios, 20th Century Fox, will be downsized, with some operations folded into Walt Disney Studios or refocused to make films designed for online distribution. Founded in 1935, the Fox studio championed Marilyn Monroe, produced classics like “The Sound of Music,” released the first “Star Wars” movie and, more recently, turned “Avatar” into the biggest ticket-seller of all time.
But lately, like most of Hollywood, 20th Century Fox has struggled to keep pace with the changing way younger audiences view content – namely on an internet-connected device. Disney said it expected the acquisition to yield “at least” $2 billion in total cost savings.