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  1. But Disney's minimum $27.5 billion payment to Comcast will happen later. Enlarge Getty Images | NurPhoto Today, Disney takes the reins at Hulu. Disney and Comcast announced a deal saying that Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately. In turn, Disney and Comcast have entered a "put/call" agreement, which means that as early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal's 33-percent interest in Hulu. On the flip side, Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell its interest in Hulu by January 2024 for fair market value. Fair market value will be assessed at the time of sale, but Disney has guaranteed Comcast a minimum sale price of $27.5 billion for the remaining stake in Hulu. As part of the agreement, Comcast has agreed to extend Hulu's licensing of NBCUniversal content until late 2024. That means, despite Disney's immediate takeover, Hulu will retain NBCUniversal content for the next few years. This goes for on-demand content as well as Hulu Live. However, the agreement also states that NBCUniversal will be able to run certain content on its own streaming service within one year's time in exchange for a reduced licensing fee for Hulu. Reportedly, Comcast is preparing an NBC streaming service to launch sometime in 2020 at a price point below $12 per month. NBCUniversal will also be able to terminate most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu in three years. Disney already owned a whopping 66 percent of the streaming service, a stake that evolved over time and as Disney won battles against Comcast and Fox. Last year, Hulu was evenly divided between Disney, Fox, and Comcast, but Disney gained a controlling stake when it struck a major deal with 21st Century Fox. Comcast, through its property NBCUniversal, retained the remaining 33 percent interest in Hulu until today. Last month, Hulu bought back a 10 percent stake from AT&T as well in a deal valued at $1.43 billion, leaving Disney with almost complete control over Hulu and its future. Disney recently debuted its own ad-free streaming service, dubbed Disney+, which will launch in November for $6.99 per month. Included in that streaming service is Disney's entire original movie library as well as new original content coming from the entertainment giant (including a live-action Star Wars series), the complete Simpsons archive, and a handful Marvel movies. It's currently unclear what the future relationship between Hulu and Disney+ will be. Reportedly, Disney executives have talked about sequestering more mature content on Hulu, while Disney+ would remain a family-friendly service. There have also been talks of selling the two services along with ESPN+, another standalone streaming service already owned by Disney, in a trifecta bundle at a discounted price. Source: Disney takes full control of Hulu as Comcast steps aside (Ars Technica)
  2. We're not sure when Fandango will start pre-selling tickets to 2027's Avatar 5, but... Enlarge / How much Disney-Marvel-Fox can you possibly stomach over the next eight years? Disney / Aurich Lawson As part of the recent fusing of multiple movie empires, Disney made a massive announcement of film release dates on Tuesday relating to everything under its corporate, cinematic sun. And we mean everything. Let's start with the biggest official news of the document: every film in the upcoming James Cameron Avatar quadrilogy (yes, four more Avatar films) has been bumped at least one full year, with Avatar 2 now slated to launch on December 17, 2021. That day, by the way, was Avatar 3's original release date, but that third entry has now been bumped a full two years, to December 2023. Avatar 4 gets a one-year delay to December 2025, and Avatar 5 will remain in production an additional two years with a scheduled launch of December 17, 2027. Assuming traditional movie theaters even exist by then. If you're assuming lightsabers or superheroes are sweeping in to take that December 2020 slot, think again. Disney doesn't appear to have an action-tentpole film primed to replace that December 2020 slot in its calendar; instead, an "untitled Marvel movie" will launch on November 6, 2020. Disney's recent pledge that Star Wars would take a theatrical break after this year's Rise of Skywalker has been confirmed by this schedule, and it's a remarkable one: three years. If this release schedule holds, we won't see a live-action Star Wars film in theaters again until 2022, when a slate of three untitled, live-action films will release every two years in December. Meaning, "untitled Star Wars" will land in theaters on December 16, 2022, December 20, 2024, and December 18, 2026. Last we heard, this was the live-action film trilogy that Disney CEO Bob Iger teased in late 2017 with Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson at the helm. And while we're on the subject of Lucasarts: that Indiana Jones live-action sequel announced in 2016, with Harrison Ford attached, is still floating around in Disney's release schedule, only now marked with a release date of July 9, 2021. We're not sure exactly how the Marvel Cinematic Universe will shuffle around post-Endgame, but we at least know Disney has no shortage of Marvel films heading to theaters. In addition to April 2020's launch of The New Mutants, an X-Men film helmed by Fox, eight "untitled Marvel film" projects are slated to launch in the years 2020-2022. Unlike its Star Wars and Avatar arms, Disney is apparently choosing to be conservative about making superhero release-date promises any further than that. (Sorry to everyone hoping for some version of Iron Man in 2027.) As a reminder, Sony is handling the launch of this July's Spider-man: Far From Home, and it may very well have other Marvel-related theatrical projects in the works. Pixar isn't going anywhere, either, with four untitled projects scheduled between 2020-2022 (and none slated for release dates after that). The rest of the list includes a variety of already announced projects under the Disney and Fox umbrellas, including the live-action YA book adaptation Artemis Fowl (now delayed to May 2020), a feature-length version of the TV series Bob's Burgers (July 2020), an animated version of the fantasy graphic novel Nimona (March 2021), and a CGI-animated film of a wholly new IP, Ron's Gone Wrong, from new production house Locksmith Animation (November 2020). This list doesn't reflect the fact that Disney has plans for new series from every arm of its production empire in the works for Disney+, the new online video-streaming service slated to launch in November of this year. That may very well be where more side-stories and one-offs in the Star Wars universe land, to avoid repeats of underwhelming fan response to releases like Solo: A Star Wars Story. Source: Disney delays Avatar quadrilogy, dates three live-action Star Wars films (Ars Technica)
  3. Disney’s live-action Mulan looks more like a period drama in first teaser "Quiet. Composed. Graceful. Disciplined. These are the qualities of a good Chinese wife." Yifeu Lu stars in the title role of Mulan, Disney's live-action remake of its 1998 animated film. Disney has dropped a teaser for its forthcoming film, Mulan, giving us our first real look at the studio's live-action remake of the classic 1998 animated film. (Mild spoilers for the 1998 Disney animated film below.) Both films are based on the Chinese legend, "The Ballad of Hua Mulan," telling the story of a young woman in the Northern Wei era (spanning 386-536 CE) who takes her father's place when each family is required to provide one male to serve in the emperor's army. In this version, Hua Mulan is already a well-trained fighter—the Arya Stark of Chinese legend—and she serves for 12 years with none of her fellow soldiers ever suspecting her true gender. Disney's 1998 animated film broadly follows the traditional storyline, except Mulan is not well-trained when she first runs away. The film also added a love interest and a catchy original soundtrack. Mulan was released to critical acclaim, grossing $304 million worldwide and earning Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. That was a marked improvement on Disney's prior two animated films, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules, but well below the box office success of classics like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. But it was good enough to merit a direct-to-video sequel in 2004 and a spot on the roster of the studio's ongoing live-action remakes. The remake is being described as more of a "war action drama," and there's only the barest hint of the animated film's soundtrack in the background, but it's still the same essential plot. Per the official synopsis: When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation… and a proud father. I am not usually a big fan of Disney's live-action remakes of their classic animated films, but I have to admit, this is an effective, sumptuously eye-catching teaser for Mulan, one of my favorites in the Disney oeuvre. We see our free-spirited heroine (played by Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei) riding her horse across the Chinese countryside, only to come home to the news that her family's matchmaker has found her an auspicious match. "It is decided," Mulan's father, Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma), says, perhaps sensing his daughter isn't exactly thrilled by the news. "It is what is best for our family." And of course, Mulan initially submits: "Yes. I will bring honor to us all." Cut to her training in the art of being the perfect Chinese wife, where we are treated to a litany of desired virtues: quiet, composed, graceful, disciplined. But Mulan embodies them in her own way, as we see her secretly practicing martial arts before running away to take her father's place in the emperor's army to fend off an attack by Hun warrior Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee)—originally known as Shan You in the original animated film. Mulan also has a sister, Hua Xiu (Xana Tang) in the live action version, which also includes a new Khan ally: a witch named Xianniang (Gong Li). These elements may derive from the Sui Tang Romance, a 17th century tragic novel based on the Mulan legend, in which Mulan has a younger sister and bonds with a fellow female warrior named Xianniang. Mulan is slated for theatrical release on March 27, 2020. Listing image by YouTube/Disney Source: Disney’s live-action Mulan looks more like a period drama in first teaser (Ars Technica) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  4. Disney pulls the plug on FX Networks' standalone streaming service Don't worry: FX Networks' shows will be available on Hulu. American Horror Story / FX Networks There's bound to be a lot of changes, both big and small, at 21st Century Fox now that Disney's acquisition of the media giant is completed. One of those is the shutdown of FX Networks' Plus subscription service, which it launched with Comcast back in 2017. FX+ offers on-demand and ad-free streaming of the network's shows, including American Horror Story, The Shield and Sons of Anarchy, for $6 a month. According to the notice posted on the FX+ website, it will no longer be available by August 21st, 2019 and members only have until August 20th to enjoy the service. The current season of FX shows will continue airing on its channels, as usual, and will be available for on-demand viewing in the FXNow app and on the FXNetworks website for a limited time with pay-TV subscriber authentication. Those who don't have access to a cable subscription don't have to worry, though, because Disney plans to distribute the network's shows through Hulu. Disney took full control of Hulu in May, giving the service the resources it needs to develop more original programming. The House of Mouse is also gearing up to launch Disney+, but it'll mostly serve as home to its family-friendly programming. Its adult-oriented shows will go to Hulu. According to Variety, FX CEO John Landgraf admitted at an event in May that the network doesn't have a large enough programming to sustain its own streaming service. He said Hulu will give FX the option to offer its shows ad-free as part of a bigger service, and that's "really exciting" to him. Source: Disney pulls the plug on FX Networks' standalone streaming service
  5. Key Points Disney has earned more than $18.2 billion at the global box office from Marvel movies since purchasing the company in 2009. The House of Mouse has produced and distributed 16 of the 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe films. On Saturday at Comic-Con in San Diego, Marvel unveiled the 10 films and TV projects will all be released in the next two years, some theatrically and the rest on Disney's upcoming streaming service Disney+. A decade ago, moviegoers were introduced to Tony Stark. He was a fast-talking genius, playboy, billionaire, soon-to-be philanthropist played by the comeback kid himself Robert Downey Jr. Marvel's "Iron Man" arrived in theaters in 2008 just as rival DC's gritty Dark Knight trilogy, directed by Christopher Nolan, was making its bow. It was a near polar opposite to the dark, gloomy story of billionaire Bruce Wayne, aka the masked vigilante Batman. In its opening weekend, "Iron Man" snared nearly $100 million at the box office, before going on to garner just under $600 million worldwide. At the time, opening weekend ticket sales of "Iron Man" were just short of the first-weekend sales for "Spider-Man," the 2002 blockbuster that held the record for the top non-sequel superhero movie opening. A year later, Disney made its move. While Marvel had already contracted several films with Paramount and Universal as part of its Marvel Cinematic Universe, CEO Bob Iger closed on a deal to purchase the comic book company for around $4 billion. "This is perfect from a strategic perspective," Iger said at the time. "This treasure trove of over 5,000 characters offers Disney the ability to do what we do best." It seems he was right. Since releasing its first Disney produced Marvel movie in 2012, the company has earned more than $18.2 billion at the global box office. And it's already on its way to make billions more. At San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, Marvel announced its upcoming slate of films and TV shows that expand on the 23 movies already in the MCU. Disney has produced 16 of those films. Paramount distributed "Iron Man," "Captain America: The First Avenger," "Thor" and "Iron Man 2"; and Universal distributed "The Incredible Hulk" as part of deals that predated Disney's acquisition of Marvel. More recently, Sony has produced two Spider-Man films — "Homecoming" and "Far From Home" — in partnership with Disney, allowing the character to appear in the MCU. In total, all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have made more than $22 billion at the global box office. To be sure, these box office numbers do not include the cost of production or marketing costs. They also don't count the billions in merchandising that Disney has made over the last decade. Box office glory When the trailer for "Avengers: Endgame" first came out, there was little doubt that it was going to be a big movie at the box office. "Infinity War" had left the fate of most of the cast of superheroes uncertain. Theories about what happened to those that were dusted in the final moments of the film circulated on message boards, forums and social media. How was Marvel going to bring them back? Certainly, the studio would have to. After all, Spider-Man had his own standalone feature coming out just a few months after "Endgame" was set to be released, and Marvel had green lit sequels for Black Panther and Doctor Strange, among others. Early estimates had the film making just over $2 billion, a sizable feat for a superhero movie. But, could it take on the top box office spots? Perhaps not. And then on opening weekend, "Endgame" did the impossible. It hauled in $357 million in the U.S. and $1.2 billion at the global box office -- and people began to reassess what was possible. Within 87 days in theaters, "Endgame" became the highest grossing film of all time. The film had earned $2.79 billion, topping "Avatar's" record of $2.7897 billion. What comes next With "Spider-Man: Far From Home," Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to a close. On Saturday in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel's president, Kevin Feige, unveiled Phase 4. The 10 films and TV projects will all be released in the next two years, some theatrically and the rest on Disney's upcoming streaming service Disney+. Films include "Black Widow," "Eternals," "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" and "Thor: Love and Thunder." he Disney+ productions are "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," "WandaVision," "Loki," "Hawkeye," and an animated series called "What If?." "We didn't even mention that we're making 'Black Panther 2,'" Feige said at the end of the panel. "We didn't even talk about that ′Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3' is coming. We didn't have time to talk about 'Captain Marvel 2.' " "I didn't even have time to talk about the Fantastic Four," he added, the crowd roaring with excitement. "And there's no time left to talk about mutants and how mutants come into the MCU." Many of these teased films would not have been possible before Disney acquired a number of Fox properties earlier this year. Feige also revealed that a "Blade" movie would be going into production. Source
  6. Disney brings back the Lucasfilm Games brand for future Star Wars titles Disney will continue to license the franchise to outside developers. Enlarge / Very, very recently, in a game industry not very far away... Star Wars games will now be gathered together under the revitalized Lucasfilm Games banner. An announcement today on StarWars.com highlights the new Lucasfilm Games logo, which will appear in all future titles surrounding the Star Wars franchise. A new sizzle reel highlights some of those existing licensed titles, ranging from Star Wars Battlefront II to Sims 4: Journey to Batuu. Gamers of a certain age may remember the Lucasfilm Games brand from the '70s and '80s, when it was used for original, internally developed games ranging from Rescue on Fractalus! to Maniac Mansion. The Games Group got folded into the newly formed LucasArts in 1990, a brand that became known for dozens of games, including many classic PC adventure titles. FURTHER READING What does the Disney buyout mean for LucasArts’ gaming catalog? By the time Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, downsizing at LucasArts was already well underway, with the company mostly handling licensing for Star Wars games developed at other companies. Disney's then-CEO Bob Iger noted that the company was "likely to focus more on social and mobile than we are on console" for games going forward, which wasn't seen as a great sign for LucasArts or its Star Wars 1313 action-adventure game project. FURTHER READING End of an era: Disney shuts down internal game development at LucasArts Six months later, Disney made the end official by announcing it was shutting down LucasArts and getting out of internal video game development altogether. A few months after that, Electronic Arts announced that it had acquired a multiyear licensing agreement for exclusive rights to publish Star Wars video games. A sizzle reel showing off some recent Star Wars-branded games that will now be part of the "Lucasfilm Games" umbrella. Today's rebranding announcement doesn't mean Disney or Lucasfilm is getting back into direct game development; the announcement notes that future titles will continue to be "developed in collaboration with the finest studios across the industry." The announcement doesn't make mention of any previous, non-Star Wars LucasArts properties, a handful of which have started to reappear as remastered titles in recent years. Right now, the only confirmed Lucasfilm Games project for 2021 is Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, which collects previous family action releases based on episodes I through IX. EA has also suggested that 2019's Jedi: Fallen Order was the start of "an entirely new franchise," though additional details regarding a sequel have yet to be announced. Source: Disney brings back the Lucasfilm Games brand for future Star Wars titles
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