The film industry was shaken last year when Disney and Comcast entered a bidding war over 20th Century Fox. After the dust had settled, Disney had purchased Fox for a whopping $71 Billion. On March 20th, following months of government inspection — the merger was finalized. Disney has officially added Fox to its stacked lineup that already includes Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney Animation and Disney Studios. The past nine months have run rampant with speculation as to what will come of Marvel’s re-acquired X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR.

It makes sense that Marvel’s massive franchises have become the center of discussion. However, there are several other high profile intellectual properties being exchanged as well. A few of these include the iconic, ALIEN, PREDATOR and DIE HARD franchises. These franchises are generally for more mature audiences. This seems to be opposed to Disney’s family-friendly public image. This apparent discontinuity has frightened some fans of these franchises. There are several possibilities for how Disney will proceed with its new IP. Let’s go through them and see which options people are speculating are least and most likely.

The Worst Possibility 

The option that has been theorized far more than one would expect is that Disney will halt production on all films and franchises that do not line up with its family-friendly image. This is by far the least likely scenario. Disney may have a public image that it likes to keep up, but that has never stopped Disney from producing R-rated content under different banners. For years Disney funded and produced content through Miramax. Miramax was responsible for many films, including the incredibly R-rated PULP FICTION.

Pulp Fiction, by Disney?
Image From Miramax

Additionally, Disney is primarily in the business of making boatloads of cash. Currently, they are harvesting the franchise potential of their animated classics and demonstrating their commitment to established IP. Disney would not throw away the built-in audience that franchises generated at the 20th Century Fox hold. There are billions of dollars that would be left on the table if they ignored all the mature content. It is crazy to think they would spend over $70 billion only to throw away such valuable properties.

Plausible, but Not Ideal

The next option would be for Disney to “Disney-ify” their recently acquired franchises so they can fit in. This is within the realm of possibility, as even 20th Century Fox was toning down some of these franchises. Even some of the more recent DIE HARD films have been rated PG-13. Disney has made it clear that they are determined to make their brand seem as squeaky clean as possible. Their drive to keep themselves pristine can be observed by how they fired James Gunn, to distance themselves from his off-brand humor.

Die Hard
Image From 20th Century Fox

Disney would likely not do this for a few reasons. The first of which is simply that many of these franchises do not seem to work in the toned down, PG-13 rating. 2007’s LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD was PG-13, and it performed okay and received passing reviews. However many fans were turned off by the film. The reaction concluded in the sequel getting panned and flopping domestically. With the change to PG-13, franchises can lose some of their essences. This risks the built-in audience losing interest. Disney should, and likely will, be wary of alienating the audience of these adult franchises. After all, if they do not have an audience, they won’t make money.

Additionally, Disney rehired James Gunn. Their image would be strained far less by producing an R-rated action film. The “risk” of producing R-rated films is likely small enough for them to continue production. This indicates that they are willing to go along with what audiences would like to see, even if it is not necessarily family-friendly.

Bet on THIS One

The most likely scenario is for Disney to continue the production of R-rated franchises under another banner. It appears that Disney will be keeping 20th Century Fox intact. This would be one of the most obvious ways for these franchises to continue, in as close to their original state as possible. Additionally, it is in Disney’s best interest to keep their newly acquired franchises alive. As seen by the performance of the PG-13 DIE HARD films, abandoning a franchise’s R-rated identity is massively harmful. The best chance that Disney has to make money on these franchises is to retain the identity and tone that made them so successful. Changing them to PG-13 could risk losing the support of their original audience.

Deadpool-Now at Disney
Image From 20th Century Fox

Bob Iger, Disney CEO, has already made some statements about the future of DEADPOOL, which has shed light on R-rated franchises. He has previously described future DEADPOOL films as being under a banner other than Marvel Studios. This would enable DEADPOOL to exist in its full and raunchy form. At the same time, this keeps the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a family-friendly, PG-13 tone. There is no reason to believe that Iger’s comments are not indicative of Disney’s attitude toward the rest of its new R-rated properties.

Disney’s CinemaCon presentation reaffirmed this as the most likely possibility. The head of 20th Century Fox, Emma Watts, said that a number of Fox franchises will continue after the merger. During this discussion, pictures from ALIEN franchise films appeared in a slideshow. This indicates that the R-rated franchises will not stop the post-merger. Additionally, this heavily implies that 20th Century Fox will continue to operate normally. It does not confirm whether the franchises will retain their R rating, but it does seem likely.

The Future of Film

The Disney-Fox merger shook the ground of the film world. The landscape has been permanently altered. As of now, it is uncertain if that is for better or for worse. Having a company in charge of so many production studios and so many diverse franchises is scary. An unwise corporation could run the creators of hundreds of beloved films into the ground. They could shut down a massive chunk of the industry if they fail to properly run the studios. This is not to mention the possibility that having one entity behind so many artistic endeavors threatens the exclusion of voices. By nature, consolidating the creation of so many films into one company forces some voices out. This is incredibly unfortunate, especially considering the film industry’s lack of inclusion.

However, I do not believe we are in trouble. Disney is capable of including many diverse voices in its content. I do not believe that they will allow the quality of their films to be stunted by massive corporate overreach. Disney was responsible for many great films, and I see no reason why the quality of their films will change now. If Fox had been picked up by a company that does not have a stellar track record, it would be frightening. However, Disney has handled mergers well in the past and they have not butchered any IP’s they purchased. Perhaps I have too much faith, but their experience with Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and Pixar speaks volumes. 20th Century Fox is going to be a great addition to Disney’s lineup. The future of filmmaking has been altered by this merger, and hopefully, it will be for the better.

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