Once one of the top tier of Hollywood movie studios in its own right, 20th Century Fox became part of the mammoth Walt Disney organisation in 2019 following the partial break-up of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox conglomerate. It now becomes one of several production banners under the Walt Disney Pictures umbrella, alongside Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios itself. Disney also absorbs Fox's substantial archive of past releases. In Jan 2020, Disney began rebranding the movie division as 20th Century Studios to distance the business from the remaining Fox Corporation still controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Performance in this industry tends to bounce backwards and forwards between good years and bad years: Fox has had a typically mercurial history in recent years. Historically, one key contributor to its success was a long-running partnership with independent producer George Lucas to distribute his Star Wars series (although Lucas took the bulk of the profits for himself, while Fox received a fee for distribution). However, that relationship ended in 2013 with the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney. Another important pillar was the 'X-Men' franchise, one of the handful of Marvel-created concepts not to have already been swallowed by Disney. Another such was 'Deadpool', one of the studio's biggest recent hits. The acquisition by Disney folds both those franchises back into the main Marvel portfolio, and also gives the House of Mouse ownership of Fox's biggest ever movie success, 'Avatar'. More recently, Fox scored a substantial global hit with 'Bohemian Rhapsody' despite serious production difficulties and generally poor reviews. That was the studio's single biggest hit in 2018, grossing an impressive $903m worldwide. That was enough to make it the studio's third biggest success of all time after 'Avatar' and the first 'Star Wars'. 'Deadpool 2' also did well with a global gross of $779m. Combined revenues from 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment were $8.75bn in the year to June 2018, with operating income of $952m. However, performance dipped significantly in the first year of Disney's ownership, with a string of weak box office results during 2019. 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' grossed only $250m worldwide, the lowest figure to-date in that long-running series, while Brad Pitt space drama 'Ad Astra' managed just $127m. 'Alita: Battle Angel' was the studio's overall top scorer at $405m worldwide, but that only barely represented break-even on the film's $170m budget before marketing costs.
Capsule checked 30th July 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 20th Jan 2020: Disney is dropping the Fox name from 20th Century Fox movies and its arthouse satellite Fox Searchlight. The company has made no official comment, but the move is widely understood to be an attempt to distance the business from the remaining Murdoch-controlled Fox Corporation media operation, and especially Fox News. The main movie division rebrands as 20th Century Studios, while Fox Searchlight becomes Searchlight Pictures. No decision has yet been made about the 20th Century Fox TV Studios production business. However, that unit has comparatively low awareness among consumers by comparison with the movie division.
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