The Simpsons predicted that Disney would buy Fox in this episode nearly 20 years ago
Disney pretty much rules the world at this point. Already a giant in the movie business, it vastly expanded its reach when it bought the extremely successful Marvel Studios in 2009, before buying the rights to Star Wars in 2012. Seeing as you can guarantee several of the top grossing movies of the year will be related to one of these, they are doing fairly well for themselves.
It seems, however, that there is no limit to their reach, as a deal has recently been finalised for Fox to sell its entertainment assets for $52.4 billion. Not only does this mean that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, but they now own Fox TV, National Geographic, FX, India’s Star TV, a controlling stake in Hulu, and a major portion of Europe’s Sky TV. While Rupert Murdoch has sold these assets to Disney, he still owns a fair amount, now becoming a key shareholder of Disney stock.
On one hand, fans are rejoicing as this means the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, among other characters, are now able to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, alongside the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, after introducing Spider-Man in 2016 through a deal with Sony. On top of this, they also now own the rights to The Simpsons, a show which seemed to predict this entire thing nearly two decades ago.
In the episode When You Dish Upon A Star, which aired as part of the tenth season of the show in 1998, a background gag ended up predicting what would happen 19 years later. Outside the Fox studio, the 20th Century Fox sign read 'A division of Walt Disney Co.' underneath.
As the scene continues, we even see a Star Wars poster on the wall of a producer's office, where director Ron Howard is pitching an idea for a film. Funnily enough, Disney would later buy Star Wars and Ron Howard has recently landed a job directing the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie. It also gives The Simpsons the opportunity to mock Fox, which they have done at every opportunity over the years.
This is typical for The Simpsons, who were always poking fun at their parent company. Fox would frequently give them notes, ordering them to change jokes or avoid certain topics. In response they made fun of them mercilessly, often singling out their lacklustre programming and the political bias of Fox News.
This is not the first time The Simpsons has predicted a major event years later, showing Trump as the president 16 years before he was elected. In the 2000 episode Bart to the Future, we were shown a future where Lisa is president. She notes that “we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump”, explaining that the U.S. is broke and owes money to every other country in the world.
“We predicted that he would be president back in 2000,” the show’s creator Matt Groening told The Guardian, “but [Trump] was of course the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time, and that’s still true.” It seems like the Disney joke was simply an absurd joke too, not one they really expected to happen.
There are some that worry over what this deal means. By 2016, the market share of Fox and Disney was at 37%, meaning this merger could see a single company owning over a third of the market, effectively a monopoly over the industry. To put things in perspective, Disney now owns the Avatar franchise, the most profitable movie of all time, which has currently has four (yes, that many) sequels on the way. Soon enough they'll be running the country.