Surprising Non-Disney Films the Entertainment Giant Now Owns
The Walt Disney Company has been one of the most prolific entertainment companies in the world for over a century. In that time, many of Disney’s in-house intellectual properties including characters, films, and theme parks have become iconic, and some of the most recognizable properties in the world. However, in recent decades “the Mouse” has gone on an acquisition spree, buying up other production studios. Sure, most people know that Disney now owns Marvel and Star Wars, but the company has also come to own some properties that fit… interestingly in the Disney portfolio.
These are six of the most surprising film properties now owned by Disney:
So many members of the millennial and gen-z generations already thought that this 1997 film was already owned by Disney – which to be fair makes sense, since the lush 1997 animated musical was clearly an attempt by 20th Century Fox to mimic the success of the 1990s “Disney Renaissance” films – that calling Anastasia a Disney film became something of an internet meme. However, meme became reality in 2019 when Disney acquired the 20th Century Fox catalogue.
Disney’s ownership of the film is doubly strange. Not only did Anastasia officially become a Disney film after decades of being misattributed to the company, but it’s story elements – including the death of the Romanov of the family, Rasputin, and the Russian Revolution – certainly doesn’t with the company’s typical fairy tale animated fare.
Disney had long been a target of The Simpsons satirical barbs. Over the course of the show’s run, they’ve skewered the company’s films and history (“The Day the Violence Died”) and theme parks (“Itchy & Scratchy Land”). In fact, famously in The Simpsons Movie, Bart Simpson wears a bra on his head to mimic Mickey Mouse and proclaims himself “the mascot of an evil corporation.”
Suffice to say, all this made it quite surreal when Disney acquired The Simpsons with the Fox catalogue in 2019, and proceeded to make them a major part of the marketing for the Disney+ streaming service. As if that wasn’t enough, the show has a major pre-acquisition presence at Universal Studios theme parks AKA Disney’s largest competitors.
We can debate forever if Die Hard counts as a Christmas movie or not, but one thing that can’t be argued? Die Hard is now a Disney movie. That’s right, the ultra-violent film hero John McClane (as played by Bruce Willis) is now as much a Disney character as Mickey Mouse himself. Considering the five films in the franchise had grossed approximately $1.4 billion worldwide, we’re guessing we’ll see an official Disney Die Hard series sooner rather than later.
Anyone who used social media in the days immediately following Disney’s 2019 acquisition of 20th Century Fox likely saw a meme or joke talking about how the Alien Queen – the terrifying matriarch of the Xenomorph species who appears in several films of the Alien franchise – was now a Disney princess. Still, it’s worth taking a step back and thinking about how surpassing it is that Disney owns the entirety of the literary gut-busting series, including the classic horror of Alien and the explosive genre-defining action of its sequel Aliens.
Interestingly, the Alien films did have a long-running presence at Walt Disney World prior to Disney owning the films. From 1989 through the attraction’s 2017 closing, a major portion of the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park (formerly known as Disney/MGM Studios) was dedicated to recreating several scenes from the first film.
Non-MCU Marvel Films (Except Spider-Man):
While the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a box office behemoth for Disney since the series launched with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel films were not always so streamlined. A pre-Disney-owned Marvel attempted to pull itself out of bankruptcy in the mid-1990s and early 2000s by selling off the movie rights of its characters to various studios.
This led to X-Men (including the R-Rated Deadpool), Daredevil, and Fantastic Four films from 20th Century Fox. Upon the Fox acquisition, Disney acquired the rights to all of these films and characters nearly completing the Marvel Universe. The studio still doesn’t own the film rights to Spider-Man, though they’ve worked with Sony to coproduce films starring the character.
Yup, that Borat. The first film to star Sascha Baron Cohen’s satirical journalist Borat Sagdiyev was distributed by 20th Century Fox, which means that said rights are now controlled by Disney.
Did you realize these films were now owned by Disney? Any other big surprises in the catalogue we missed? Let us know.