New Details Emerge on the Future of Fox Films at Disney /Film


So far, Disney‘s acquisition of 20th Century Fox is not turning out so well for the House of Mouse. Recently we heard that the studio would be scaling back the development of projects that were previously in the works at Fox, so much that only franchises like Avatar and Planet of the Apes would be moving forward. And now some new details about how Disney is proceeding after Fox’s disappointments have come to light, and it gives us even more of a cause for concern.

Though Fox vice chairman Emma Watts is still overseeing the studio’s future film slate at Disney, we know that Bob Iger is bringing in Alan Horn and Alan Bergman. Disney’s strategy will be “redefining 20th Century Fox’s film strategy for the future, applying the same discipline and creative standards behind the success of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.” That might sound like Watts is on her way out, but she’s contracted to stick around for at least two years, and her focus will be the Avatar sequels and Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming remake of West Side Story.

But there are other completed films that Disney will still apparently see released through 2020. They include the sci-fi thriller Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt, and somehow the long-gestating New Mutants. Others include films slated for release later this year like Ford vs Ferrari, Terminator: Dark Fate, and the Kingsman: The Secret Service prequel The King’s Man, as well as films that were in production during the merger, such as the video game based action comedy Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds and an adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street.

However, there’s one project that seems to be worrying Disney a little bit, and that’s Fox Searchlight’s Jojo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi. The film follows an awkward young German boy whose only ally is his imaginary friend Hitler (played by Waititi himself). Suddenly, his naïve patriotism is tested when he meets a young Jewish girl being hidden away by his mother. It’s a takedown of Nazism in the best way possible, but apparently Disney is a little worried about how the satire will come off to general audiences. As Variety notes:

“Halfway through one recent viewing one executive grew audibly uncomfortable, worrying aloud that the material would alienate Disney fans.”

How a movie that hilariously denounces Nazism would alienate Disney fans is beyond us, but it probably has something to do with the radical conservative crowd that supports Donald Trump and loves family friendly entertainment, the same kind of people who celebrated when James Gunn was unjustly fired as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

But beyond that, projects that were in development that don’t have broad commercial prospects are faring much worse. Estimates from rival studio executives say Disney may have gotten rid of $50 million worth of development, and that includes some big franchise properties such as a Die Hard prequel, reboots of Flash Gordon and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, video game adaptations of Mega Man and The Sims, and many more that surfaced online. Instead, as we heard, Disney is opting to remake more safe bets intended for their Disney+ streaming service.

It’s moves like this that have resulted in many original ideas that were situated at Fox have been tossed out the window. Yes, there are exceptions like Ron’s Gone Wrong, a movie about robots that are designed to be every kid’s best friend. That will be released in November of 2020. But movies like Tinkerbells, about a group of misbehaving fairies, and an animated adaptation of the comic book Lumberjanes, have been completely canceled.

Meanwhile, other projects are getting changes behind the scenes. Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti was slated to direct two films at Fox, a drama called The Editor that focused on Jackie Kennedy and a musical called Be More Chill. But now he’ll only produce both of those projects as they sit in flux at the studio.

Basically, anything that seems too risky for Disney is being shelved or cautiously approached, and this is exactly what many industry experts were worried about. Disney is tightening their belt and any Fox projects that fall outside of their usual style are being scrapped. There’s a chance it could be short-lived, lasting only until Disney makes Fox more profitable for them. But a less optimistic outlook could see this hurting the output of original ideas on the big screen for a long time.

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