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The Walt Disney Company (DIS; commonly referred to as Disney) is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue with NBC/Comcast and WarnerMedia. following after. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into live-action film production, television, and travel. Taking on its current name in 1986, The Walt Disney Company expanded its existing operations and also started divisions focused upon theatre, radio, publishing, and online media. In addition, it has created new divisions of the company in order to market more mature content than it typically associates with its flagship family-oriented brands.

The company is best known for the products of its film studio, the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, and today one of the largest and best-known studios in Hollywood. Disney also owns and operates the ABC broadcast television network; cable television networks such as Disney Channel, ESPN, A&E Television Networks, and Freeform; publishing, merchandising, and theatre divisions; and owns and licenses 14 theme parks around the world. The company has been a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since May 6, 1991. An early and well-known cartoon creation of the company, Mickey Mouse, is the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company.

Its common metonym called the "House of Mouse" (also known as the "Mouse House"), referring to the company's mascot Mickey Mouse, along with a TV show and the fictional night club of the same name.

Corporate history

1923–1928: The silent era

In early 1923, Kansas City, Missouri animator Walt Disney created a short film entitled Alice's Wonderland, which featured child actress Virginia Davis interacting with animated characters. Film distributor Margaret J. Winkler contacted Disney with plans to distribute a whole series of Alice Comedies based upon Alice's Wonderland. The contract signed, Walt and his brother Roy Disney moved to Los Angeles. On October 16, 1923, they officially set up shop in their uncle Robert Disney's garage, marking the beginning of the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. Within a few months, the company moved into the back of a realty office in downtown Los Angeles, where production continued on the Alice Comedies until 1927. In 1926, the studio moved to a newly constructed studio facility on Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles.

After the demise of the Alice comedies, Disney developed an all-cartoon series starring his first original character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which was distributed by Winkler Pictures through Universal Pictures. Disney only completed 26 Oswald shorts before losing the contract in February 1928, when Winkler's husband Charles Mintz took over their distribution company. Mintz hired away all of Disney's animators except Ub Iwerks to start his own animation studio.

1928–1934: Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies

In 1928, to recover from the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse. Disney's first sound film Steamboat Willie, a cartoon starring Mickey, was released on November 18, 1928. It was the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, behind Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho. It was also the first cartoon to feature synchronized sound. Disney used Pat Powers' Cinephone system, created by Powers using Lee De Forest's Phonofilm system. Steamboat Willie premiered at B. S. Moss's Colony Theater in New York City, now The Broadway Theatre.

Disney continued to produce cartoons with Mickey Mouse and other characters, and began the Silly Symphonies series, which was advertised as "Mickey Mouse Presents a Walt Disney Silly Symphony". In 1932, Disney signed an exclusive contract with Technicolor (through the end of 1935) to produce cartoons in color, beginning with Flowers and Trees (1932). Disney released cartoons through Powers' Celebrity Pictures (1928–1930), Columbia Pictures (1930–1932), and United Artists (1932–1937). The popularity of the Mickey Mouse series and the Silly Symphony series allowed Disney to plan for his first feature-length animation.

1934–1945: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and World War II

Deciding to push the boundaries of animation even further, Disney began production of his first feature-length animated film in 1934. Taking three years to complete, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, based upon the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, premiered in December 1937 and became the highest-grossing film of that time by 1939. Snow White was released through RKO Radio Pictures, which had assumed distribution of Disney's product in July 1937, after United Artists attempted to attain future television rights to the Disney shorts.

Using the profits from Snow White, Disney financed the construction of a new studio complex in Burbank, California. The new Walt Disney Studios, in which the company is headquartered to this day, was completed and open for business by the end of 1939. The following year, Walt Disney Productions had its initial public offering.

The studio continued releasing animated shorts and features, such as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942). After World War II began, box-office profits declined. When the United States entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor, many of Disney's animators were drafted into the armed forces. The U.S. and Canadian governments commissioned the studio to produce training and propaganda films. By 1942 90% of its 550 employees were working on war-related films. Films such as the feature Victory Through Air Power and the short Education for Death (both 1943) were meant to increase public support for the war effort. Even the studio's characters joined the effort, as Donald Duck appeared in a number of comical propaganda shorts, including the Academy Award-winning Der Fuehrer's Face (1943).

1946–1954: Post-war and television

With limited staff and little operating capital during and after the war, Disney's feature films during much of the 1940s were "package films," or collections of shorts, such as The Three Caballeros (1944) and Melody Time (1948), which performed poorly at the box-office. At the same time, the studio began producing live-action films and documentaries. Song of the South (1946) and So Dear to My Heart (1948) featured animated segments, while the True-Life Adventures series, which included such films as Seal Island (1948) and The Vanishing Prairie (1954), were also popular and won numerous awards.

The release of Cinderella in 1950 proved that feature-length animation could still succeed in the marketplace. Other releases of the period included Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter Pan (1953), both in production before the war began, and Disney's first all-live-action feature, Treasure Island (1950). Other early all-live-action Disney films included The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), The Sword and the Rose (1953), and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). Disney ended its distribution contract with RKO in 1953, forming its own distribution arm, Buena Vista Distribution.

In December 1950, Walt Disney Productions and The Coca-Cola Company teamed up for Disney's first venture into television, the NBC television network special An Hour in Wonderland. In October 1954, the ABC network launched Disney's first regular television series, Disneyland, which would go on to become one of the longest-running primetime series of all time. Disneyland allowed Disney a platform to introduce new projects and broadcast older ones, and ABC became Disney's partner in the financing and development of Disney's next venture, located in the middle of an orange grove near Anaheim, California.

1955–1965: Disneyland

In 1954, Walt Disney used his Disneyland series to unveil what would become Disneyland, an idea conceived out of a desire for a place where parents and children could both have fun at the same time. On July 18, 1955, Walt Disney opened Disneyland to the general public. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland was previewed with a live television broadcast hosted by Art Linkletter and Ronald Reagan. After a shaky start, Disneyland continued to grow and attract visitors from across the country and around the world. A major expansion in 1959 included the addition of America's first monorail system.

For the 1964 New York World's Fair, Disney prepared four separate attractions for various sponsors, each of which would find its way to Disneyland in one form or another. During this time, Walt Disney was also secretly scouting out new sites for a second Disney theme park. In November 1965, "Disney World" was announced, with plans for theme parks, hotels, and even a model city on thousands of acres of land purchased outside of Orlando, Florida.

Disney continued to focus its talents on television throughout the 1950s. Its weekday afternoon children's television program The Mickey Mouse Club, featuring its roster of young "Mouseketeers", premiered in 1955 to great success, as did the Davy Crockett miniseries, starring Fess Parker and broadcast on the Disneyland anthology show. Two years later, the Zorro series would prove just as popular, running for two seasons on ABC, as well as separate episodes on the Disneyland series. Despite such success, Walt Disney Productions invested little into television ventures in the 1960s, with the exception of the long-running anthology series, later known as The Wonderful World of Disney.

Disney's film studios stayed busy as well, averaging five or six releases per year during this period. While the production of shorts slowed significantly during the 1950s and 1960s, the studio released a number of popular animated features, like Lady and the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), which introduced a new xerography process to transfer the drawings to animation cels. Disney's live-action releases were spread across a number of genres, including historical fiction (Johnny Tremain, 1957), adaptations of children's books (Pollyanna, 1960) and modern-day comedies (The Shaggy Dog, 1959). Disney's most successful film of the 1960s was a live-action/animated musical adaptation of Mary Poppins, which received five Academy Awards, including Best Actress Julie Andrews.

1966–1971: The deaths of Walt and Roy Disney and the opening of Walt Disney World

On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died of lung cancer, and Roy Disney took over as chairman, CEO, and president of the company. One of his first acts was to rename Disney World as "Walt Disney World," in honor of his brother and his vision.

In 1967, the last two films Walt actively followed were released: the animated feature The Jungle Book and the musical The Happiest Millionaire. The studio released a number of comedies in the late 1960s, including The Love Bug (1968) and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), which starred another young Disney discovery, Kurt Russell. The 1970s opened with the release of Disney's first "post-Walt" animated feature, The Aristocats, followed by a return to fantasy musicals in 1971's Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World opened to the public, with Roy Disney dedicating the facility in person later that month. Two months later, on December 20, 1971, Roy Disney died of a stroke, leaving the company under control of Donn Tatum, Card Walker, and Walt's son-in-law Ron Miller, each trained by Walt and Roy.

1972–1984: Theatrical malaise and new leadership

While Walt Disney Productions continued releasing family-friendly films throughout the 1970s, such as Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Freaky Friday (1976), the films did not fare as well at the box office as earlier material. However, the animation studio saw success with Robin Hood (1973), The Rescuers (1977), and The Fox and the Hound (1981).

Inspired by the popularity of Star Wars, the Disney studio produced the science-fiction adventure The Black Hole in 1979. The Black Hole was one of the first Disney releases to carry a PG rating, the first being Take Down, also released in 1979. In 1980, Disney has joined venture with Paramount Pictures on the production of the 1980 film adaptation of Popeye, which was a critical failure, yet a moderate box office success. Disney joined with Paramount again in the 1981 fantasy epic Dragonslayer, which was more mature than anything Disney was ever involved with at the time, though it was a box office failure. The releases of these and other PG-rated Disney films such as the boldly innovative Tron (1982) led Disney CEO Ron Miller to create Touchstone Pictures as a brand for Disney to release more adult-oriented material. Touchstone's first release was the comedy Splash (1984), which was a box office success.

With The Wonderful World of Disney remaining a prime-time staple, Disney returned to television in the 1970s with syndicated programing such as the anthology series The Mouse Factory and a brief revival of the Mickey Mouse Club. In 1980, Disney launched Walt Disney Home Video to take advantage of the newly-emerging videocassette market. On April 18, 1983, the Disney Channel debuted as a subscription-level channel on cable systems nationwide, featuring its large library of classic films and TV series, along with original programming and family-friendly third-party offerings.

Walt Disney World received much of the company's attention through the 1970s and into the 1980s. In 1978, Disney executives announced plans for the second Walt Disney World theme park, EPCOT Center, which would open in October 1982. Inspired by Walt Disney's dream of a futuristic model city, EPCOT Center was built as a "permanent World's Fair", complete with exhibits sponsored by major American corporations, as well as pavilions based on the cultures of other nations. In Japan, the Oriental Land Company partnered with Walt Disney Productions to build the first Disney theme park outside of the United States, Tokyo Disneyland, which opened in April 1983.

Despite the success of the Disney Channel and its new theme park creations, Walt Disney Productions was financially vulnerable. Its film library was valuable but offered few current successes, and its leadership team was unable to keep up with other studios, particularly the works of Don Bluth, who defected from Disney in 1979. In 1984, financier Saul Steinberg launched a hostile takeover bid for Walt Disney Productions, with the intent of selling off its various assets. Disney successfully fought off the bid with the help of friendly investors, and Sid Bass and Roy Disney's son Roy Edward Disney brought in Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg from Paramount Pictures and Frank Wells from Warner Bros. to head up the company.

1984–2004: The Eisner era

Since Walt's death in 1966, The Walt Disney Company had narrowly survived takeover attempts by corporate raiders. Its shareholders Sid Bass and Roy E. Disney brought on Eisner and former Warner Brothers chief Frank Wells to replace Ron W. Miller in 1984 and strengthen the company.

During the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s, Disney revitalized. Beginning with Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and later, The Little Mermaid (1989), its flagship animation studio enjoyed a series of commercial and critical successes. In addition, the company successfully entered the field of television animation with a number of lavishly budgeted and acclaimed series such as Adventures of the Gummi Bears, DuckTales and Gargoyles. Disney also broadened its adult offerings in film when then Disney Studio Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg acquired Miramax Films in 1993. Disney acquired many other media sources during the decade, including a merger with Capital Cities/ABC in 1996 which brought broadcast network ABC and its assets, including the ESPN networks, into the Disney fold.

During the early part of the 1990s, Eisner and his partners set out to plan "The Disney Decade" which was to feature new parks around the world, existing park expansions, new films, and new media investments. While some of the proposals did follow through, most did not. These included the Euro Disney Resort (now Disneyland Paris), Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios), Disney California Adventure Park, Disney-MGM Studios Paris (eventually opened in 2002 as Walt Disney Studios Park), and various film projects including a Who Framed Roger Rabbit franchise.

Wells died in a helicopter crash in 1994 (The Lion King, which went on to become the most successful hand-drawn animated picture of all time, was dedicated to his memory). Shortly thereafter, Katzenberg resigned and formed DreamWorks SKG with partners Steven Spielberg and David Geffen because Eisner would not appoint Katzenberg to Wells' now-available post. Instead, Eisner recruited his friend Michael Ovitz, one of the founders of the Creative Artists Agency, to be President, with minimal involvement from Disney's board of directors (which at the time included Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier, the CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation Stephen Bollenbach, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, Yale dean Robert A. M. Stern, and Eisner's predecessors Raymond Watson and Card Walker). Ovitz lasted only 14 months and left Disney in December 1996 via a "no fault termination" with a severance package of $38 million in cash and 3 million stock options worth roughly $100 million at the time of Ovitz's departure. The Ovitz episode engendered a long-running derivative suit, which finally concluded in June 2006, almost 10 years later. Chancellor William B. Chandler, III of the Delaware Court of Chancery, despite describing Eisner's behavior as falling "far short of what shareholders expect and demand from those entrusted with a fiduciary position..." found in favor of Eisner and the rest of the Disney board because they hadn't violated the letter of the law (namely, the duty of care owed by a corporation's officers and board to its shareholders).

"Save Disney" campaign and Eisner's ouster

In 2003, Roy E. Disney, the son of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney and nephew of Walt Disney, resigned from his positions as the company's vice chairman and chairman of Walt Disney Feature Animation, accusing Eisner of micromanagement, flops with the ABC television network, timidity in the theme park business, turning the Walt Disney Company into a "rapacious, soul-less" company, and refusing to establish a clear succession plan, as well as a string of box-office movie flops starting in the year 2000.

Disney2004report

The Walt Disney Company into the Disney family in the 2004 Annual Report.

On March 3, 2004, at Disney's annual shareholders' meeting, a surprising and unprecedented 43% of Disney's shareholders, predominantly rallied by former board members Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, withheld their proxies to re-elect Eisner to the board. Disney's board then gave the chairmanship position to Mitchell. However, the board did not immediately remove Eisner as chief executive.

On March 13, 2005, Eisner announced that he would step down as CEO one year before his contract expired. On September 30, Eisner resigned both as an executive and as a member of the board of directors, and, severing all formal ties with the company, he waived his contractual rights to perks such as the use of a corporate jet and an office at the company's Burbank headquarters. Eisner's replacement was his longtime assistant, Robert Iger.

2005–present: The Iger Era

On July 8, 2005, Walt Disney's nephew, Roy E. Disney returned to The Walt Disney Company as a consultant and with the new title of Non Voting Director, Emeritus. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland Park on July 17, and opened Hong Kong Disneyland on September 12. Walt Disney Feature Animation released Chicken Little, the company's first film using 3-D animation. On October 1, Robert Iger replaced Michael Eisner as CEO. Miramax co-founders Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein also departed the company to form their own studio. On July 25, 2005, Disney announced that it was closing DisneyToon Studios Australia in October 2006, after 17 years of existence.

In 2006, Disney acquired Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney's first animation star. Aware that Disney's relationship with Pixar was wearing thin, President and CEO Robert Iger began negotiations with leadership of Pixar Animation Studios, Steve Jobs and Ed Catmull, regarding possible merger. On January 23, 2006, it was announced that Disney would purchase Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion. The deal was finalized on May 5; and among noteworthy results was the transition of Pixar's CEO and 50.1% shareholder, Steve Jobs, becoming Disney's largest individual shareholder at 7% and a member of Disney's Board of Directors. Ed Catmull took over as President of Pixar Animation Studios. Former Executive Vice-President of Pixar, John Lasseter, became Chief Creative Officer of both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, as well assuming the role of Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering.

After a long time working in the company as a senior executive and large shareholder, Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney died from stomach cancer on December 16, 2009. At the time of his death, he had roughly 1% of all Disney shares which amounted to 16 million. He is seen to be the last member of the Disney family to be actively involved in the running of the company and working in the company altogether.

On December 31, 2009, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment, Inc. for $4.24 billion. Disney has stated that their acquisition of the company will not affect Marvel's products, neither will the nature of any Marvel characters be transformed.

In October 2009, Disney Channel president Rich Ross, hired by Iger, replaced Dick Cook as chairman of the company and, in November, began restructuring the company to focus more on family-friendly products. Later in January 2010, Disney decided to shut down Miramax after downsizing Touchstone, but one month later, they began selling the Miramax brand and its 700-title film library. On March 12, ImageMovers Digital, Robert Zemeckis's company which Disney had bought in 2007, was shut down. In April 2010, Lyric Street, Disney's country music label in Nashville, was shut down. In May 2010, the company sold the Power Rangers brand, as well as its 700-episode library, back to Haim Saban. In June, the company canceled Jerry Bruckheimer's film project Killing Rommel. In September 2010, Disney Interactive Studios was downsized. In November, two ABC stations were sold.

With the release of Tangled in 2010, Ed Catmull said that the "princess" genre of films was taking a hiatus until "someone has a fresh take on it … but we don't have any other musicals or fairy tales lined up." He explained that they were looking to get away from the princess era due to the changes in audience composition and preference. However, in the official Facebook page for Disney, Ed Catmull stated that this was just a rumor.

In April 2011, Disney broke ground on Shanghai Disney Resort. Costing $4.4 billion, the resort is slated to open in 2015. Later, in August 2011, Bob Iger stated on a conference call that after the success of the Pixar and Marvel purchases, he and the Walt Disney Company are looking to "buy either new characters or businesses that are capable of creating great characters and great stories."

On October 30, 2012, Disney announced plans to acquire Lucasfilm and release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015. On December 4, 2012, the Disney-Lucasfilm merger was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, allowing the acquisition to be finalized without dealing with antitrust problems. On December 21, 2012, the deal was completed with the acquisition value amounting to approximately $4.06 billion, and thus Lucasfilm became a wholly owned subsidiary of Disney.

On May 29, 2013, Disney set release dates for eight currently untitled animated films through 2018, including four from Disney Animation and four from Pixar Animation.

On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced that it was acquiring most of Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox, including the film studio.[1]

On May 7, 2018, shares of Fox rose 5.1% when a report was released that Comcast was in talks with investment banks and firms in order to obtain bridge-financing for an all-cash bid, reportedly worth $60 billion, that threatened the Disney-Fox deal.[2]

On May 29, it was reported that Disney was looking into making its own all-cash counter-offer for Fox assets in the event that Comcast went through with their offer.[3] The next day, Disney and Fox announced that they have set their shareholder vote meetings for July 10, though both companies have stated that Fox's meeting could be postponed if Comcast came through with their offer.[4]

On June 12, AT&T was given approval by District Judge Richard J. Leon to acquire Time Warner, easing concerns Comcast had regarding whether government regulators would block their bid for Fox. Consequently, the next day, Comcast mounted a bid of $65 billion for the 21st Century Fox assets that were set to be acquired by Disney.[5][6]

On June 18, it was reported that Disney will add to its already existing $52 billion claim to contest Comcast's proposed counteroffer for the Fox assets.[7]

On June 20, Disney and Fox announced that they had amended their previous merger agreement, upping Disney’s offer to $71.3 billion (a 10% premium over Comcast's $65 billion offer), while also offering shareholders the option of receiving cash instead of stock.[8][9]

On June 21, Murdoch said in response to Disney's higher offer: "We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry." That still does not prevent other companies from making a bid, as the deal needed to be voted on by shareholders.[10] Iger explained the reasoning behind the bid: "Direct-to-consumer distribution has actually become an even more compelling proposition in the six months since we announced the deal. There has just been not only a tremendous amount of development in that space, but clearly the consumer is voting—loudly."[11]

On June 27, the United States Department of Justice gave antitrust approval to Disney under the condition of selling Fox's 22 regional sports channels, to which the company has agreed.[12]

On July 9, a Fox shareholder filed a lawsuit to stop the acquisition from Disney citing the absence of financial projections for Hulu.[13][14] On the same day, CNBC reported that Comcast was looking for companies that could take over Fox's Regional Sports Networks. This would make easier Comcast's legislative problems regarding the takeover of Fox assets, preparing to make a new all cash counter-offer before July 27, 2018.[15]

On July 12, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. Circuit to reverse the District Court's approval for AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). Although analysts say that the chances of a DOJ win are small, they say it is the "final nail in the coffin for Comcast's Fox chase. This is a clear gift to Disney."[16] On the next day, CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson gave an interview with CNBC, about Comcast's bid for Fox: "It probably can't help it. You're in a situation where two entities are bidding for an asset, and this kind of action can obviously influence the outcome of those actions."[17]

On July 13, Disney received the support of the Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, the two most prominent proxy adviser firms in the world. Fox shareholders were recommended by the advisers as means to provide for Disney's future.[18]

On July 16, CNBC reported that Comcast is unlikely to continue its bidding war to acquire Fox from Disney in favor of Sky.[19]

On July 19, Comcast officially announced that it was dropping its bid on the Fox assets in order to focus on their bid for Sky. The CEO of Comcast, Brian L. Roberts, said "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."[20]

On July 25, TCI Fund Management, the second largest shareholder of 21st Century Fox, voted to approve the Fox-Disney deal.[21]

On July 27, Disney and Fox shareholders approved Disney's purchase of Fox's entertainment assets. The acquisition's completions should be in the first half of 2019.[22] On the same day, Bloomberg News reported that out of all 15 nations yet to approve the deal, China could become the biggest threat to the merger since the trade war with the USA resulted in the merger between Qualcomm and NXP not being realized.[23]

On August 9, it was reported that Viacom CEO Robert Bakish wants to license its TV ad targeting tech to the entire industry, starting with Fox.[24]

On August 12, the Competition Commission of India approved the Disney-Fox deal.[25]

On September 17, the European Commission announced plans of deciding what to do with the Disney-Fox deal by October 19.[26]

On October 5, Disney announced the commencement of exchange offers and consent solicitations for 21st Century Fox.[27]

On October 8, Disney announced that 21st Century Fox's top television executives would join the company, including Peter Rice, Gary Knell, John Landgraf, and Dana Walden. Rice will serve as Chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, succeeding Ben Sherwood while Walden is to be named Chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.[28]

On October 10, it was reported that the new, post-merger organizational structure of "New Fox" would be implemented by January 1, 2019, ahead of the closure of the Disney sale (which is still expected to occur during the first half of 2019).[29]

On October 15, Disney offered a list of concessions to the European Commission, which extended the review deadline to November 6.[30]

On October 18, Disney announced a new organizational structure for The Walt Disney Studios.[31]

On November 6, the sale was cleared by the European Commission, pursuant to the divestment of certain factual television networks in Europe owned by the Disney/Hearst joint venture A&E Networks, including Blaze, Crime & Investigation, History, H2, and Lifetime. Disney will continue to be a 50 percent owner of A&E in areas outside of the European Economic Area.[32]

On November 19, Chinese regulators approved the Disney-Fox deal, without any conditions, with regulatory approval from several countries still remaining.[33]

After obtaining approval from Chinese regulators, Disney reported that it still needed to obtain regulatory approval from several other regulators, though the approvals from the United States, European Union, and China were considered the most important hurdles to clear.[34]

On November 21, Disney expected to get approval from Brazil's antitrust division, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), within two weeks.[35] On December 3, CADE stated that the deal would concentrate the market of cable sports channels. CADE recommended remedial measures, and has until March 23, 2019 to issue a decision; the deadline may be extended for 90 days.[36]

On December 13, Disney announced a new organizational structure for its international operations and the individuals who would join the company, including Rebecca Campbell, Jan Koeoppen, Diego Lerner and Uday Shankar. Shankar who currently serves as Chairman and President Fox Networks Group Asia and Star India will lead Disney's Asian operations and will become the new Chairman of Disney India.[37]

By December 14, the merger was subjected to regulation in Mexico, where Disney/Fox would account for 27.8% of content distribution across all genres. Sports broadcasting was Mexico's main concern.[38]

On December 26, NBC News reported that the deal is expected to close on the last week of January 2019.[39]

On January 3, 2019, Bloomberg reported that Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) is expected to approve the media-asset deal without pressing for any property sales. CADE is expecting to see a proposal from the two companies that includes behavioral changes after some back-and-forth meetings in December. Concerns centered on the sports impact from the combination of ESPN and Fox Sports. According to the report, CADE is aware that other services compete in sports broadcasting. A ruling could come as soon as January 30, when regulators come back from year-end recess.[40]

On January 7, 21st Century Fox filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to create Fox Corporation, the company to be spun off in connection with the Walt Disney Company's acquisition of most of its film and television assets. "New" Fox will include the company's branded news, sports and entertainment assets: Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network.[41][42]

On January 11, Fox Corporation said in a securities filing that it has no plans to bid on the Fox regional sports networks that Disney is selling to get approval for the assets to be acquired from 21st Century Fox. The deal between Disney and Fox is expected to close between February and March.[43] However, on January 30, in a SEC filing by Disney, it was reported that the deal is expected to close by June.[44]

On January 31, Mexico's Federal Commission of Economic Competition (COFECE) approved the Disney-Fox deal after Disney agreed to sell its stake in Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing de México, a Mexican film distributor, to Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.[45]

On February 5, during Disney's Q1 2019 earnings call, Bob Iger confirmed that Disney was still waiting on approval from the "last few remaining markets" for Disney-Fox.[46]

On February 12, Bob Iger met with Brazil's antitrust regulator CADE to discuss the Disney-Fox deal. However a decision on the deal still could not be reached. CADE has until March 17th to make a decision. If the deal is not discussed at CADE's February 27th meeting then an extension will most likely be given extending the review a further 90 days. Regulators are split on whether the deal can be approved without the need for Disney to sell either Fox Sports or ESPN.[47] However, on February 20, Bloomberg confirmed that CADE will make its ruling on the Disney-Fox deal on February 27, 2019.[48]

On February 21, Bloomberg reported that Disney will divest Fox Sports in Brazil and Mexico to get approval in these countries. The two countries are among the last major hurdles for the Disney-Fox deal.[49]

On February 27, Brazil's antitrust agency CADE approved the merger with conditions requiring Disney to divest Fox Sports Brazil among other measures. The regulator said that they coordinated with regulators in Mexico and Chile in evaluating the transaction. Brazil's approval clears one of the final hurdles, allowing the deal to be completed as early as March.[50]

On March 4, The Walt Disney Company tweaked Robert Iger’s compensation package he would receive upon closing the Disney-Fox deal, removing $13.5 million in potential salary and incentive awards available for the chief executive after the company closes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc. assets.[51]

On March 5, Disney announced that Craig Hunegs would lead the combined TV operations at Disney Television Studios once the Disney-Fox deal closes. Hunegs will be president of the division, with oversight of all operations, including ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 TV studios. He'll report to Dana Walden, currently chairman/CEO of Fox Television Group who will be chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.[52]

On March 7, Bob Iger stated at an annual meeting that the Disney–Fox deal would be ready to close 'soon', and that following the acquisition, 20th Century Fox would still keep its name alongside Fox Searchlight Pictures, and the FX Networks.[53]

On March 11, Mexico's telecom regulator, Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) approved the deal under the condition that Disney and Fox agree to sell Fox Sports in the country. They also had to keep the National Geographic brand separate from its A&E channels. This cleared the last major holdout on the deal.[54]

On March 12, Disney announced that it has set to close the Fox deal on March 20, 2019.[55]

On March 19, Fox Corporation officially became a standalone, publicly traded company, separate from 21st Century Fox, making Fox Corporation the owner of the assets that were not acquired by Disney. The announcement also included appointment of the board of directors.[56] Also on March 19, 2019, 21st Century Fox officially completed distribution of shares ahead of the completion of the Disney deal on March 20.[57]

On March 20, the deal was officially completed.[58][59]

Post-acquisition

On March 21, it was reported that Disney would shut down the Fox 2000 Pictures studio on October 4, 2019, following the release of The Woman in the Window.[60] On the same day it was reported that up to 4,000 people could lose their jobs as Disney commenced layoffs following the merger.[61][62]

On April 3, Debmar-Mercury, the television syndication arm of Lionsgate announced that will end its national ad sales partnership with 20th Television, and they will transfer their national ad sales for their first-run and off-network shows by the company to CBS Television Distribution Media Sales. However, Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns will continue to be handled by Disney for ad sales even after CTD takes over the national ad sales for the company's shows.[63]

On April 10, Disney's ESPN unit acquired a package of rights to the Big 12 Conference in college athletics that had previously been held by Fox.[64]

On April 15, Hulu acquired AT&T's 9.5 stake in Hulu for $1.43 billion, with Disney and NBC Universal co-owning the share.[65]

On April 24, Disney announced that it had canceled a number of upcoming Fox films such as Mouse Guard,[66] News of the World (whose rights were then picked up by Universal Pictures),[67] and an adaptation of Angie Thomas' On the Come Up (whose rights were then moved to Paramount Players),[68] and that some projects, such as the Kingsman prequel The Great Game, Fear Street, and Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story, were still in production.[69] Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed on April 26 to acquire Fox Sports Networks (excluding the YES Network, being sold separately to Yankee Global Enterprises) from Disney for $10 billion.[70]

On May 7, Disney announced a revised release schedule for several Disney and Fox films. Among the changes, several films (Artemis Fowl, Ad Astra, Spies in Disguise, The New Mutants, and Call of the Wild), were moved to later release dates. All the Fox Marvel movies previously scheduled for release after 2019 were removed from the schedule. Avatar 2 was rescheduled from 2020 to a 2021 Christmas release, after which the Avatar sequels will be released every other Christmas holiday release, alternating with the Star Wars sequels through 2027.[71]

On May 14, Disney announced it had assumed control of Hulu as part of a put/call agreement with Comcast and its 30% stake in the service. Comcast will continue to license NBCUniversal content and live carriage of NBCUniversal channels until late 2024 and their stake in Hulu could be sold to Disney as early as January of that year. In addition, both companies will fund Hulu's purchase of AT&T's 9.5% stake in Hulu.[72]

Company divisions and subsidiaries

Disney Subsidiary Logos

The Walt Disney Company operates as four primary divisions: The Walt Disney Studios or Studio Entertainment, which includes the company's film, recording label, and theatrical divisions; Parks and Resorts, featuring the company's theme parks, cruise line, and other travel-related assets; Disney Consumer Products, which produces toys, clothing, and other merchandising based upon Disney-owned properties, and Media Networks, which includes the company's television and Internet operations.

Its main entertainment features and holdings include Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Disney Music Group, Walt Disney Theatrical, Disney–ABC Television Group, Radio Disney, ESPN Inc., Disney Interactive Media Group, Disney Consumer Products, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm , 20th Century Fox, Blue Sky Studios, Fox Searchlight Pictures and National Geographic. Its resorts and diversified holdings include Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, Euro Disney S.C.A., Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Disney Vacation Club and Disney Cruise Line.

Executive management

Presidents

Chief Executive Officers

Chairmen of the Board

From 1945 to 1960 Walt and Roy Disney shared the role of Chairman of the Board. Walt dropped the Chairman title in 1960 so he could focus more on the creative aspects of the company. Roy O. Disney kept the Chairman and CEO's role.

Vice Chairman of the Board

  • 1984–2003: Roy E. Disney
  • 1999–2000: Sanford Litvack (Co-Vice Chair)

Chief Operating Officers

Financial data

Revenues

Annual gross revenues of The Walt Disney Company (in millions USD)
Year Walt Disney Studio Entertainment Disney Consumer Products Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts
Disney Media Networks Walt Disney Internet Group/ Disney Interactive Media Group Total
1991 2,593.0 724 2,794.0 6,111
1992 3,115 1,081 3,306 7,502
1993 3,673.4 1,415.1 3,440.7 8,529
1994 4,793 1,798.2 3,463.6 359 10,414
1995 6,001.5 2,150 3,959.8 414 12,525
1996 10,095 4,502 4,142 18,739
1997 6,981 3,782 5,014 6,522 174 22,473
1998 6,849 3,193 5,532 7,142 260 22,976
1999 6,548 3,030 6,106 7,512 206 23,402
2000 5,994 2,602 6,803 9,615 368 25,402
2001 7,004 2,590 6,009 9,569 25,790
2002 6,465 2,440 6,691 9,733 25,360
2003 7,364 2,344 6,412 10,941 27,061
2004 8,713 2,511 7,750 11,778 30,752
2005 7,587 2,127 9,023 13,207 31,944
2006 7,529 2,193 9,925 14,368 34,285
2007 7,491 2,347 10,626 15,046 35,510
2008 7,348 2,415 11,504 15,857 719 37,843
2009 6,136 2,425 10,667 16,209 712 36,149
2010 6,701 2,678 10,761 17,162 761 38,063

Net income

Net income of The Walt Disney Company (in millions USD)
Year Walt Disney Studio Entertainment Disney Consumer Products Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts
Disney Media Networks Walt Disney Internet Group / Disney Interactive Media Group Total
1991 318 229 546 1,094
1992 508 283 644 1,435
1993 622 355 746 1,724
1994 779 425 684 77 1,965
1995 998 510 860 76 2,445
1996 1,598 990 747 −300 3,035
1997 1,079 893 1,136 1,699 −56 4,312
1998 769 801 1,288 1,746 −94 3,231
1999 116 607 1,446 1,611 −93 3,231
2000 110 455 1,620 2,298 −402 4,081
2001 260 401 1,586 1,758 4,214
2002 273 394 1,169 986 2,826
2003 620 384 957 1,213 3,174
2004 662 534 1,123 2 169 4,488
2005 207 543 1,178 3,209 5,137
2006 729 618 1,534 3,610 6,491
2007 1,201 631 1,710 4,285 7,827
2008 1,086 778 1,897 4,942 −258 8,445
2009 175 609 1,418 4,765 −295 6,672
2010 693 677 1,318 5,132 −234 7,586

Criticism

Some of Disney's animated family films have drawn fire for being accused of having sexual references hidden in them, among them The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Instances of sexual material hidden in some versions of The Rescuers (1977) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) resulted in recalls and modifications of the films to remove such content.

Some religious welfare groups, such as the Catholic League, have opposed films including Priest (1994) and Dogma (1999). A book called Growing Up Gay, published by Disney-owned Hyperion Press and similar publications, as well as the company's extension of benefits to same-sex domestic partners, spurred boycotts of Disney and its advertisers by the Catholic League, the Assemblies of God USA, the American Family Association, and other conservative groups. The boycotts were discontinued by most of these organizations by 2005. In addition to these social controversies, the company has been accused of human rights violations regarding the working conditions in factories that produce their merchandise.

Corporate social responsibility

Many animation studios are currently setting up arms for conducting activities related to Corporate Social Responsibility. Though many studios are still yet to have fully functional wings for these programs, the Walt Disney Company has already set up many programs in order to cement its image as an entity that is socially responsible.

Among the many programs initiated by Disney are the annual Enviroports (i.e. environmental report) that Disney now publishes yearly to keep its shareholders in touch with exactly how it attempts to optimize the company's operational impact on environmental issues such as reduction of waste, fossil-fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as improved eco-system protection. This has led to appreciation by many third parties such as the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute, which ranks Disney 2nd in a Corporate Social Responsibility Index, with a score of 81.33, devised in 2010. The report also establishes that Disney has improved its performance year-on-year and is second on two out of the three categories listed for measurement.

See also

Further reading

  • Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire, Bob Thomas, 1998
  • Building a Dream; The Art of Disney Architecture, Beth Dunlop, 1996, ISBN 0-8109-3142-7
  • Cult of the Mouse: Can We Stop Corporate Greed from Killing Innovation in America?, Henry M. Caroselli, 2004, Ten Speed Press
  • Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Peter Schweizer
  • The Disney Touch: How a Daring Management Team Revived an Entertainment Empire, by Ron Grover (Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1991), ISBN 1-55623-385-X
  • The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney, Richard Schickel, 1968, revised 1997
  • Disneyana: Walt Disney Collectibles, Cecil Munsey, 1974
  • Disneyization of Society: Alan Bryman, 2004
  • DisneyWar, James B. Stewart, Simon & Schuster, 2005, ISBN 0-684-80993-1
  • Donald Duck Joins Up; the Walt Disney Studio During World War II, Richard Shale, 1982
  • How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic ISBN 0-88477-023-0 (Marxist Critique) Ariel Dorfman, Armand Mattelart, David Kunzle (translator).
  • Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney, Katherine Greene & Richard Greene, 2001
  • The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip, Kim Masters (Morrow, 2000)
  • The Man Behind the Magic; the Story of Walt Disney, Katherine & Richard Greene, 1991, revised 1998, ISBN 0-7868-5350-6
  • Married to the Mouse, Richard E. Foglesorg, Yale University Press.
  • Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland, David Koenig, 1994, revised 2005, ISBN 0-9640605-4-X
  • Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records, Tim Hollis and Greg Ehrbar, 2006, ISBN 1-57806-849-5
  • Storming the Magic Kingdom: Wall Street, the raiders, and the battle for Disney, John Taylor, 1987 New York Times
  • The Story of Walt Disney, Diane Disney Miller & Pete Martin, 1957
  • Team Rodent, Carl Hiassen.
  • Walt Disney: An American Original, Bob Thomas, 1976, revised 1994, ISBN 0671223321
  • Work in Progress by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz (Random House, 1998), ISBN 978-0375500718

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