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Barring critics, disqualified from awards, buying their rivals: How Disney became the Trump of Hollywood

It has been a busy few days for the studio
Disney turning into Trump
[Image: Lucasfilm]

Disney might have been built on family friendly animated films that people across the world of all ages could enjoy simultaneously, but it has been doing a great job of creating many, many enemies over the last few days.

Even before its most recent activities Disney’s annual domination of the box office was beginning to grate. As the owners of Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Marvel, as well as releasing several of its own hit animated and live-action films, Disney has enjoyed unparalleled success, while its rivals Sony, Paramount, Universal, and 20th Century Fox have been much more inconsistent. Case in point, Disney makes almost $1 billion more than its nearest rival a year.

That’s not the reason why Disney are being held with such disdain at the moment, though. They drew the ire of the cinematic community after banning the L.A. Times from their screenings for “Thor: Ragnarok” and their future releases.

This was in response to the L.A. Times’ exhaustive article that investigated Disney’s attempt to gain favor with Anaheim council members, which is where Disneyland is based. Disney called the L.A. Times “biased,” and insisted that they had shown “a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards” in their report.

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However, various other media outlets were quick to side with the L.A. Times, and the Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Toronto, and National film critics societies soon rallied together and announced that they had banned Disney from awards contention. 

The above gesture was huge, even though Disney would probably only have been in contention in the animated field during awards season, and it immediately started to gain momentum online. Eventually Disney came back with their tail between their legs, rescinding the ban on the L.A. Times. But even that drew criticism, as Disney actually stopped short of apologizing.

Disney’s statement to the New York Times read, “We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.”

But while the studio have seemingly done enough to placate their battle with journalists, at least for now, their business dealings have also been causing concern, too, which is why the Trump comparison feels depressingly appropriate.

On Monday it was reported that Disney had been holding talks with 21st Century Fox to buy most of their assets, as Fox now want to focus on just news and sports. What Disney would get its hands on would be the movie studio, which would mean that only Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros, and Sony would be their main rivals, the latter of which were reportedly put up for sale themselves earlier this year.

If Disney do end up buying Fox then James Cameron’s “Avatar,” the “X-Men,” “Deadpool” and “Fantastic Four” franchises would be added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Indiana Jones,” and “Star Wars” series they already have at their disposal. The idea of “X-Men,” “Deadpool,” and “Fantastic Four” finally joining the “Avengers” will be music to the ears of plenty of movie fans, but Fox’s conclusion that the movie industry is now too risky is a very worrying sign.

Especially because over the last few years the likes of “The Revenant,” “Logan,” “Deadpool,” “Hidden Figures,” “Joy,” “Bridge Of Spies,” “The Martian,” “Gone Girl,” and the ”Planet Of The Apes” trilogy have come from Fox, while “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Birdman,” “Brooklyn,” “Jackie,” and “Patti Cake$” have been released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

There’s every chance that Disney won’t interfere with 21st Century Fox’s output, and that films of the same ilk will still be released if the studios merge. History suggests otherwise, though, as Pixar and Lucasfilm have become much more cutthroat and financially motivated since being purchased by Disney.

Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion back in 2006, and since 2010 five of their eight releases have been sequels. That’s something that was particularly disappointing for die-hard fans of the studio, because before that point Pixar’s original films were regarded as some of the richest and most sublime movie releases of the past 25 years. While it was previously announced that Pixar are actively developing original ideas again, with four allegedly in development, after “Coco’s” release later this month the only films scheduled are “The Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4.”

It hasn’t all been plain sailing behind the scenes with Lucasfilm, too. While the world mostly reacted uproariously to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” there were some criticisms that its plot was too similar to 1977’s “A New Hope.” Since then directors Josh Trank, Colin Trevorrow, and Chris Miller and Phil Lord have been fired from “Star Wars” films, while a huge amount of Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One” was reshot by Tony Gilroy, too, as the studio looked to avoid any risk with their output.

But it takes risk to make the best movies, something that Fox has been doing in recent years with the likes of “Deadpool” and “Logan,” while Disney was busy releasing a sixth “Pirates Of The Caribbean” and making every single Marvel film feel and look exactly the same.

With Disney already streets ahead of their rivals and now set to become even more powerful there’s a good chance that the long touted Hollywood death knell might just have begun to toll. Who would have thought that Mickey Mouse would be the one to ring it?  

  

 
 
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