Mickey’s taking the white gloves off. Disney’s merger with 21st Century Fox, which could be completed by the end of February at the earliest, will result in the loss of more than 4,000 jobs, THR reports.
Integrating Fox’s various properties and their employees into the Disney family is an endeavor that could apparently span years, according to experts. Analyst Hal Vogel told THR, “Merging Disney and Fox studios is enormously complex. One reason is that many talented, well-connected execs are and will be—much more than usual—vying for the same jobs.”
Disney’s acquisition of Fox brings the media giant one step closer to shoring up its properties in order to stay competitive in the now streaming-dominated entertainment world (it’ll own a majority of Hulu after the merger is complete). Of course, there is the unfortunate fact that companies employ actual people, in addition to owning properties. Ugh, who wants to have to deal with others’ livelihoods? What a bummer. Fox currently has 22,000 employees worldwide, about 7,000 of whom will likely become a part of New Fox (the amalgamation of Fox Broadcasting, Fox News and TV stations led by Lachlan Murdoch). At least 4,000 people are expected to lose their jobs, though, as Disney said they’d provide $2 billion of cost savings.
However, analyst Rich Greenfield projects that we’ll probably see 5,000 to 10,000 jobs lost, noting grimly to THR, “There will be bloodshed over time.” While there were not massive layoffs when Disney acquired Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm, Greenfield states that this latest merger “is virgin territory for Disney, which has never done a mass integration.”
Ahead of the acquisition, 21st Century Fox’s HR department emailed a guide to their employees not transferring to New Fox. The email about the guide reads:
Keep in mind that Disney is working to design and staff the integrated future organization. We expect a few of those decisions will be made and announced prior to or at close. However, given the scale and complexity of the integration, many or even most of the organizational and staffing decisions will likely be made after closing.
This makes Fox’s long, protracted death (one staffer told THR, “The deal was officially announced the day of the premiere of The Post [in December 2017]. That’s how long ago it was. Tom Hanks already has two movies coming out, and the deal isn’t yet done.”) even lengthier for employees who won’t be sure if they’re still on the chopping block, even once the deal is closed. Notably, the guide included that if Disney can’t offer ex-Fox employees a job “at least comparable to your current role either in scope, geography or other aspects, you will have the opportunity to receive severance.”
Layoffs are expected to be especially brutal in Fox’s film studio, which employs 3,200 people. Once the deal is closed, 20th Century Fox Film will make four to five films annually, down from their usual 12 to 14 a year. Fox film isn’t helped by the fact that they suffered at the box office this year, with the notable exceptions of Deadpool 2 and Bohemian Rhapsody. Some Fox film executives are smelling blood in the water and have already left for Netflix—about a dozen in the last two months, according to one insider cited by THR.
Oh, and to make matters worse, Disney can’t even physically accommodate their newly acquired staff with the room they have on their Burbank lot. They’re renting space on the Fox lot from the Murdochs for the next seven years.