Yahoo Finance media reporter Allie Canal outlines the latest developments surrounding the terms regarding Disney's special tax district in Florida, while also discussing prospective acquisition deals for Disney and its blockbuster lineups from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
SEANA SMITH: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis denying reports that state lawmakers are backtracking on their fight to strip the theme park of its special tax district. Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal is here with the details. Allie, you've been following this story for quite some time now. DeSantis disputing this report. But what can you tell us?
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, he said it on "Tucker Carlson" on Tuesday. He said Disney ultimately brought this on itself. And then in a statement provided to NBC News, he said there will be no U-turns on this decision. Now, to just back this up, for those that don't know what the Reedy Creek District is, it basically allows Disney to operate as a self-governing entity. So it prevents them from paying certain taxes. They don't have to follow certain regulation. And sources that I've spoken with have said it's basically like a Vatican with mouse ears. So that's one way to think about it.
Now, DeSantis stripping this right from Disney, it could have implications to the citizens in the surrounding counties, Orange County, Osceola County, because Reedy Creek has nearly $1 billion worth of bond debt, some $163 million in annual tax payments. And that throws those payments into question. Ultimately, who is going to pay for this? So it's this push and pull with lawmakers and then also Disney.
Now, Bob Iger was asked about this during the town hall. He said he's still looking into this and to what could come of it, but that ultimately Florida is very important into Disney. Disney is very important to Florida. And again, this all has to do with that controversial Don't Say Gay bill that went into effect on July 1. And if this bill is not reversed, it's going to go into effect in June of 2023. And the financial consequences of that for Disney as a business is unknown.
DAVE BRIGGS: And it's not entirely clear if Iger would have played that differently at all. But we do know he has that deft touch that is legendary that maybe he can smooth that over. Because ultimately, Florida residents may be hurt by taking away that tax [INAUDIBLE]. But still on Disney, the "Hollywood Reporter" with some intriguing M&A activity, some "far-fetched" proposals. Are any of them possible?
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Some of them are possible. I think the majority are not. The "Hollywood Reporter" laid out, could Disney sell to Apple? Iger said that's pure speculation. In terms of the Netflix acquisition, to me, Disney and Netflix are the leaders in this space. I think if we're going to see any streaming M&A in 2023, it's going to be from those smaller players, maybe Paramount and NBCUniversal.
Now, this is interesting with the Roblox, Epic Games acquisition. Remember that Disney did wade into the world of gaming. Under Iger's leadership, they tried some in-house gaming. But it was an epic, epic fail. So I don't think Iger will want to revisit that during his short theoretical two-year tenure at the company. But in terms of the future of Hulu, this is going to be the biggest one because of the timeline. Disney is currently on track by 2024 to buy out Comcast's 33% stake in the company. And that would value the streamer at $27.5 billion.
Now, a lot of investors on the Street are actually saying that Disney should sell this because it could contribute to a very high bidding war. Disney is desperate for cash right now. And again, because of that two-year timeline for Iger, that's something that he will probably have to figure out. And then when it comes to the ESPN spinoff, that's up in the air. Sports is expensive. But it also drives a lot of profitability for Disney.
DAVE BRIGGS: I watched an interview with Jimmy Pitaro this week, and it is clear they are simpatico. Bob Iger and Jimmy Pitaro are tight. They talk almost daily. They talk sometimes just about sports. Iger hired Pitaro. I think they're pretty locked in together right now.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: And the brand, the ESPN brand, is just--
SEANA SMITH: It's huge.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: --iconic.
SEANA SMITH: And yeah, so valuable there to the company. Allie, let's talk about some of the upcoming movies that we have for next year in terms of potential bright spots here for Disney in the 12 months.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, in 2023, we're entering phase 5 of the MCU. That means we have an "Ant-Man" sequel. We have "Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3," "The Marvels." And then outside of the MCU, there's a live-action "Little Mermaid," "Indiana Jones 5" with Harrison Ford. So a lot to look forward to in 2023, and of course, at the end of 2022 with the "Avatar" sequel coming out. That is a Disney-owned property with 20th Century Studios. So theaters certainly happy with Disney through the end of this year and into 2023.
SEANA SMITH: We'll see if it gets people back.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Mm-hm.
DAVE BRIGGS: I love Paul Rudd. He's just a legend.
SEANA SMITH: Me too, actually. I'll give you that.
ALEXANDRA CANAL: Sexiest Man Alive.
SEANA SMITH: I thought I was going to disagree with what was about to come out of your mouth, but I--
DAVE BRIGGS: If you don't love Paul Rudd, there's something wrong with you. Allie Canal--
SEANA SMITH: Agreed.
DAVE BRIGGS: --thank you. Enjoy the weekend.