This article was originally published on Viking Social Agency on August 17, 2019
It’s only been a couple of months since the final contract was signed, giving away 20th Century Fox to be absorbed by Disney, and the effects are still being felt.
What’s happening right now is probably more like growing pains honestly. Fox and Disney were two very different companies, Disney is always concerned with supporting “The Brand” and Fox was willing to take more risks. If a recent article from Variety is to be believed then things were more dire at the major Hollywood staple.
Fox has had a rough year so far. Most of the films they’ve put out have either lost them money or downright flopped. The films that Disney took over didn’t fare any better. Dark Phoenix, Stuber, and The Art of Racing in the Rain have all seen major losses. This caused Disney to report an earning loss at the quarter 3 investment meeting.
At this call, Bob Iger blamed the loss on the recently inherited 20th Century Fox film slate, specifically Dark Phoenix. According to Variety, Disney didn’t put to much into marketing the final X-Men film since most of Fox’s film slate weren’t being churned out at the level of quality that the studio was used to seeing. It seems that when Fox decided to sell, the environment at the historic film studio changed.
Bob Iger also blamed high marketing costs for upcoming Fox films such as Ford v. Ferrari and Spies in Disguise. Disney has scrapped much of Fox’s pre production slate, with Iger tasking Disney to take the Fox slate “in a new direction, with an all-new development slate that will focus on a select group of properties.” Films like Lumberjanes have been cancelled and will have to find a new home if the popular comic is going to find a way to the big screen.
It would stand to reason that Disney is more interested in cultivating Fox’s popular IP’s than moving forward with new properties that are untested. While Disney hasn’t said what the plan is, they did mention that properties like Planet of the Apes and Alien are a priority for them. Iger seems interested in continuing the Deadpool franchise but is unsure of how at this point. Even though films like Alien and Deadpool doesn’t fit within the Disney brand on paper, Iger seems determined to make them fit. Perhaps a more traditional Alien film is on the horizon since Ridley Scott seems more interested in experimenting with the franchise he started even though the new films haven’t struck a chord with audiences
If there will be any changes to Fox Searchlight, is also unclear but the recently acquired independent label is still due to put out some hotly anticipated films such as Ready or Not. While 20th Century Fox may have had a rough year for the most part, the studio was always willing to experiment more than it’s new owner. Films like Logan or Deadpool or even Kingsman: The Secret Service would never have been made under Disney. One wonders if Mathew Vaughns Kingsman 3 will have to find a new studio.
Iger told investors, “It will probably take a solid year, maybe two years, before we can have an impact on the films in production. We’re all confident we’re going to turn around the results of Fox live-action.” It’s still early days but it looks like Disney is more concerned with building their library and gaining new assets then using Fox as an avenue to take more risks with the types of films they put out. Whether Fox was a sinking ship saved by Disney or not, these two companies don’t mesh well on paper, and it’ll be a long and, certainly, interesting road to see how they grow together.