It’s official: The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox announced this morning that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Disney to acquire the vast majority of Fox, including the 20th Century Fox film and television studios, for a whopping $52.4 billion in stock.
“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement on Thursday. Iger has also extended his contract with the company through the end of 2021 to help oversee the acquisition process.
“When considering this strategic acquisition, it was important to the Board that Bob remain as Chairman and CEO through 2021 to provide the vision and proven leadership required to successfully complete and integrate such a massive, complex undertaking,” said Orin C. Smith, lead independent director of the Disney board.
Iger says Disney is “honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings.”
The newly announced deal will place the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool under Marvel control, meaning that they are bound to show up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in one way or another over the course of the next few Marvel films. Disney claims the control of these properties will allow them to “create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love.”
In addition, Disney will also now have control over Fox Searchlight, 20th Century Fox’s sister company specializing in the financing and distribution of independent, art-house, and foreign films. The studio has introduced audiences to films such as Little Miss Sunshine and 12 Years a Slave over the years and is already having an exceptional awards season with The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Though, as Disney continues to integrate the assets it has acquired into its company, the future of Fox Searchlight will remain uncertain.
“We are extremely proud of all that we have built at 21st Century Fox, and I firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace in what is an exciting and dynamic industry,” Murdoch said.
He continued, “I’m convinced that this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world. I’m grateful and encouraged that Bob has agreed to stay on, and is committed to succeeding with a combined team that is second to none.”
‘Downton Abbey’ movie set to begin production in September with the original cast returning
Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski announced Friday morning that the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie is set to begin production this September with the original principal cast from the hit television series returning to reprise their respective roles.
According to a press release, Brian Percival, who directed the Downton Abbey pilot, is directing the film from a script written by Julian Fellowes, who created the award-winning series which picked up 15 Emmy Awards over the span of its six-season run.
Downton Abbey follows the lives of the elite Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home. Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, and Hugh Bonneville all starred in the show.
“Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family’s next chapter,” said in a statement. Kujawski. “We’re thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen.”
The film will be a Carnival Films production, with Focus Features and Universal Pictures International handling distribution.
Adds Carnival’s executive chairman Gareth Neame, who is also producing the film: “When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production. Julian’s script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival’s hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen.”
A release date for the Downton Abbey movie has not been announced, though it seems likely that we’ll see the film hit the big screen towards the backend of next year if production does, in fact, begin this September.
— Downton Abbey (@DowntonAbbey) July 13, 2018
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are coming for their Oscars in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ trailer
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are coming for their Oscars in the riveting first trailer for Mary Queen of Scots, the upcoming historical drama from director Josie Rourke, which explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart and her intense rivalry with another young queen.
Based on the book Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, the film was written by Beau Willimon and follows Mary (Ronan) as she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne, but Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Robbie).
Determined to rule as much more than just a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones – and, ultimately, change the course of history forever.
The film marks the feature directorial debut of Rourke, artistic director of The Donmar Warehouse and the first woman to run a major theater in London. Supporting cast members include Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, Ismael Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, David Tennant, and Guy Pearce.
Focus Features is set to release Mary Queen of Scots in select theaters just in time for the forthcoming awards season on December 7.
Phoenix readers: Win passes to an early screening of Bo Burnham’s directorial debut ‘Eighth Grade’
Bo Burnham’s lovely directorial debut Eighth Grade has been charming audiences at festivals such as Sundance and South by Southwest for the past six months and now, finally, will hit theaters across the nation next week after opening in New York and Los Angeles this Friday.
Thanks to our friends over at A24, we’re giving our Phoenix-based readers the chance to win VIP seats to an early screening of the film at Harkins Camelview 14 at Fashion Square in Scottsdale on Thursday, July 19. Sound good to you? Here’s what you have to do to enter our contest:
- First, send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “EIGHTH GRADE”
- Next, in the body of the email, tell us your favorite coming-of-age movie
- Be sure to also include your first and last name in the email in case you’re one of our winners
- Hit send
We’ll choose five winners to win VIP seats to the Eighth Grade screening by 12:00 p.m. on July 18, so be sure to keep an eye on your inbox in case we select you as a winner! Remember, we’ll only be accepting one entry per person and will automatically disqualify anyone who enters more than once.
Written and directed by: Bo Burnham
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school—the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year—before she begins high school.
Cast: Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton
Opens: Friday, July 20 exclusively at Harkins Camelview @ Fashion Square