The Disney-Warner Deal that Almost Happened in 2016.


Prepare yourself for a shocker of a news story, or at least at the time it would have been a shock, but with all the current mergers and acquisitions going on nobody is surprised to hear “Company A Buys Company B” in the headlines. But this was before all the big fuss that we see now with Hollywood eating itself in order to survive. This was a deal that almost happened in 2016 that would have changed the landscape of current Hollywood as we know it.

In 2016 AT&T had approached WarnerMedia with a $100Billion Acquisition Deal that was at the time a HUGE business deal that gained a lot of buzz. But as of 2021 the deal was apparently so disastrous it made the infamous AOL-TimeWarner Merger look like a puddle compared to the ocean of failure that was the AT&T-WarnerMedia Merger. The Merger did see a lawsuit in the Supreme Court over various Anti-Trust issues that were eventually resolved. But in early 2016 before plans were finalized, then head of Time Warner, Jeff Bewkas, received a Phone call from none other than Bob Iger.

Iger had called Jeff asking if he would be interested in making a deal by merging the two media giants. That idea almost seemed ludicrous, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny under the same roof, all these IPs like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, The Matrix and more all funneled into the Magical World of Disney.

I’m pretty sure some comic fans would be excited to see Marvel and DC either merge or work together in some way and Disney would of course collect royalties from NBCUniversal over the usage of the various IPs from their theme parks (which is what they do with Marvel at Universal Orlando). Just imagine if all the content from HBOMax was on Disney Plus? Insane right?

But these talks were halted when Jeff Bewkas told Bob that they were already offered a big deal and it was too late to reverse the sale. Bob then wished Jeff luck on the sale and called the next executive on his list of companies he wanted to buy, Rupert Murdoch.

It’s bizarre to think in some alternate reality Disney would have bought Warner Bros. instead, while Comcast would presumably buy Fox since they and Disney were in a bidding war over Fox.

But with all the new corporate mergers, the Hollywood landscape is changing. Warner is merging with Discovery, Amazon buying MGM and Comcast supposedly in talks to merge ViacomCBS with NBCUniversal (I doubt the Federal Government would let that happen.)

The only people seemingly benefiting are the people selling off their companies while the audiences continue to ignore them in favor of things like Netflix or Disney Plus/Hulu.

Source: New York Times 

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