Thanks to the looming acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox’s future is mired in skepticism. Creatives and producers both inside and outside the studio are questioning its future, leading to complications for new and upcoming projects, according to Wall Street Journal sources.
Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox assets is nearing finalization. After winning a bidding war with Comcast and passing domestic regulators, the theme park and media giant now has only oversees regulatory approval to gain to cement the buyout. Once that happens, Disney would have full ownership of 20th Century Fox and all its accompanying intellectual properties. The question on Hollywood’s mind in what they plan on doing with the studio.
According to the Wall Street Journal, executives at 20th Century Fox are operating with no knowledge of whether the studio will even exist post-acquisition. That means developing new projects that may never see the light of day. As one WSJ source said, “We’re doing the only thing we know how to do, which is put one foot in front of another.”
This nebulous view of the future has lead many to expect a mass exodus from the studio in the near future, including Chief executive Stacey Snider. In an effort to curtail this mentality and make sure talent doesn’t walk out the door once they receive bonuses in August, Snider has extended numerous executive contracts as far as she can, often until 2021, according to WSJ sources. Meanwhile, Snyder herself is not expected to remain with the studio after the deal is finalized, without a suitable position likely for her under the new owner.
One of WSJ‘s sources stated that Disney plans on releasing all 20th Century Fox films that are in production or completed by the deal’s finalization. Projects still being developed have a less certain future. The studio is currently working on a number of films while this deal proceeds, including “an adaptation of Jack London’s novel Call of the Wild and of a comic book one studio executive described as ‘Game of Thrones with mice,’” as well as “a historical drama about the competition between auto designers from Ferrari and Ford in the 1960s and a trio of young-adult horror movies intended to be released in theaters within a three-month period.”
Industry insiders are wondering how these projects and others will fit into Disney’s brand, and whether we could see the studio that released the Deadpool franchise straying away from non-family-friendly films.
When it comes to new projects, Hollywood at large is avoiding 20th Century Fox due to this up-in-the-air perception of the studio’s future. This is not making it easy on Fox executives seeking new films to develop.
The WSJ cited a source close to the sale of Red Notice, a Dwayne Johnson-attached project and subject of a bidding war that was never even brought to Fox as an option. They also quoted a movie agent on the subject, who told them, “People are making an effort to include [Fox] out of respect, but it’s not anyone’s first choice because you don’t know what the studio is going to be.”
While insiders are unsure whether Disney will even keep releasing films under the Fox brand, two studios will evidently continue past the merger: Fox Searchlight and Fox 2000. Searchlight was responsible for last year’s best picture Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water and has received positive sentiment from Disney CEO Bob Iger; Fox 2000 specializes in literary adaptations and is responsible for the recent Love, Simon.
Although she seems unlikely to stay in the long run, Snider is currently working on restructuring Fox’s animation efforts. She has replaced the Comcast-acquired Dreamworks with a new partner, and focused on giving feature film treatment to animated properties like Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, and The Simpsons. She has also focused efforts into transitioning intellectual property into TV series, with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ice Age, and Night at the Museum projects in development.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Image: 20th Century Fox