With the $71.3 billion merger of two studios about to close, fears are mounting on the storied Fox lot as colleagues prepare to become rivals, Bob Iger’s every move is scrutinized and 4,000 jobs are about to vanish: “There will be bloodshed.”

The level of anxiety on the 20th Century Fox lot in West Los Angeles spiked on a recent Thursday afternoon when employees received a mass email advising that parking lots would be at capacity the following day. Was the Walt Disney Co. purchase of the storied studio finally done? Had an army of human resources executives and lawyers finally been unleashed to effectuate a brutal series of layoffs?

When, the next day, the real reason for the email emerged — rehearsals for Fox’s Jan. 27 live broadcast of Rent were commandeering the parking spaces — it didn’t provide much comfort. In Building 88, the headquarters of the 83-year-old film studio where mogul Darryl F. Zanuck once greenlit All About Eve and Planet of the Apes, one top marketing executive had sent his most cherished belongings to storage that day just in case he was forced to exit abruptly. Once Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of a wide swath of 21st Century Fox is complete — possibly by as early as the end of February — one of Hollywood’s most storied studios, the home of Shirley Temple movies, The Sound of Musicand Avatar, will simply disappear.

But erasing a showbiz institution isn’t as easy as flipping a switch (or, in Disney’s case, a mouse trap). Assimilating the Fox properties and their thousands of employees is a Herculean task, one that experts say could take years to sort out using dozens of third-party consultants, advisers and compliance officers. Never in the modern era has one major studio gobbled up another. That’s been a job left to interlopers like AT&T buying Time Warner in 2018 for $85.4 billion or Comcast acquiring a majority stake in NBCUniversal in 2011. “Merging Disney and Fox studios is enormously complex,” says analyst and author Hal Vogel. “One reason is that many talented, well-connected execs are and will be — much more than usual — vying for the same jobs.”

The acquisition is Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger’s biggest bet yet and points to the escalating race for scale in a media business rife with digital goliaths Netflix, Facebook and Google. Disney needs a cavalcade of content to feed its planned streaming offerings — it also will own a majority of Hulu — while managing overhead. “It is uniquely interesting, and complex, because it exemplifies this juncture in the way content is delivered and structural changes in the industry,” says Jonathan Barnett, director of USC’s Media, Entertainment and Technology Law Program.

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