20th Century Fox
Logo 20th century fox
Logo 20th century fox 1953-1987

Twentieth Century Fox is a major American film studio located west of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California. The studio is now a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox (formerly News Corporation), the media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch. The company was founded on May 31, 1935, as the result of the merger of Fox Film Corporation (founded by Hungarian immigrant William Fox in 1915, but who was ousted in 1930), and Twentieth Century Pictures (founded in 1933 by Darryl F. Zanuck - former head of production at Warner Bros. - with Joseph Schenck, Raymond Griffith and William Goetz). With Joe Schenck as Chairman (Chief Executive Officer), Fox's Sidney Kent as President and Zanuck as vice-president in charge of production, Twentieth Century Fox produced two Academy Award-winning films early on, The Grapes of Wrath in 1940 and How Green Was My Valley (starring Roddy McDowall) in 1941.

Zanuck left his position in 1956 to become an independent film producer, and Spyros Skouras - Fox President since 1942 - took over the day-to-day running of the studio. However, the production of Cleopatra spiraled out of control and almost bankrupted the company, and Fox was forced to sell much of its prime real-estate back lot in 1961 to raise cash - later the site of the Century City complex. In 1962 Zanuck persuaded his fellow-stockholders not to liquidate the business and returned to become President, relegating Skouras to the post of Chairman and allowing the company to begin making movies again after the disasterous Cleopatra was finally completed in 1963. That same year Darryl Zanuck made his son vice-president in charge of production. Only 28 years old, Richard D. Zanuck began making pictures with modest budgets, producing 20 movies in 14 months. After the release of The Sound of Music in 1964, the Zanucks went on to produce more lavish, big-budget movies such as Dr. Dolittle (1967), Hello, Dolly! (1969) and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).


Richard D. Zanuck

In September 1966, Richard Zanuck green-lit production of a Planet of the Apes film by Arthur P. Jacobs and his company, APJAC International, having previously rejected it in December 1963. The first Planet of the Apes movie, released in February 1968, provided a huge, much-needed hit for Fox, still reeling from the $40 million it had spent on Cleopatra five years before. It was never intended to spawn a franchise, but the film was such a runaway hit that the studio demanded a sequel. Behind the scenes at Fox though, tensions were building. Dr. Dolittle (also produced by APJAC) and Tora! Tora! Tora! turned out to be two of the biggest box office losers in the history of Hollywood, and the company once again headed into debt. In 1969 Darryl Zanuck had appointed Richard as President of Twentieth Century Fox, while he succeeded Skouras as Chairman of the board, but he soon felt he had been too hasty and began conspiring against his son. The financial strain, as well as creative differences, sparked a proxy fight for control of the company. Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released in May of 1970. Screenwriter Paul Dehn (with the creative input of actor Charlton Heston, and the backing of Richard Zanuck) crafted the final script to end in such a fashion as to prevent any further sequels: the movie climaxed with the destruction of the Earth.

The board-room tensions at Fox finally erupted in December 1970 when Darryl Zanuck humiliated Richard at a board of directors meeting and forced him to resign from the company. Tiring of Zanuck Sr, the board of directors would in turn force him out in May 1971. Undeterred by the Apes apocalypse, Fox demanded another follow-up. Director Don Taylor was brought on board and managed to resurrect a few essential ape characters, while simultaneously working within an extremely truncated budget. Twentieth Century Fox released Escape from the Planet of the Apes in the Spring of 1971. The sequel to Escape, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, was primarily filmed in the newly constructed Century City Shopping Center, across from the back lot of the Twentieth Century Fox studio, and once part of their property. Aware that studio executives would likely demand further film projects, director J. Lee Thompson molded the climax of Conquest to allow for further franchise development. Only one more film was given the green light after the success of Conquest, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes was released on June 15, 1973 - less than two weeks before the sudden death of Apes producer Arthur P. Jacobs. His APJAC company subsequently sold all rights and privileges of the Planet of the Apes adventures to Fox.[1]

In 1974, 20th Century Fox's TV division produced a short-lived Planet of the Apes television series, broadcast on the CBS TV network. With the cancellation of the series in December of that year, Fox followed it with a Saturday morning animated series broadcast on NBC in 1975. During this period, an Apes merchandising blitz was launched on a scale never seen before, paving the way for the kind of campaign that is standard in today's Hollywood movie industry. Official merchandise was licensed from Fox and the vast array of products proved to be very lucrative for a brief time.

From 1988, studio executives of Twentieth Century Fox began efforts to revive the Planet of the Apes movies. Adam Rifkin impressed many at the studio with his treatment, but changes in personnel (around 1989) led to it's abandonment. Studio head Joe Roth's tenure saw some encouragement for an Apes pitch from Peter Jackson, but this was dismissed after Roth left the company. His successor Peter Chernin was also enthusiastic, and he and head-of-production Tom Rothman kept the Apes project frustratingly close to production under the aegis of, successively, Oliver Stone, Chris Columbus and James Cameron. In 2001 Fox, working with the prodigal Richard D. Zanuck, finally produced a re-imagining of the POTA mythos in the Tim Burton-directed Planet of the Apes. The movie received a mixed reaction, and despite some financial success, plans for a sequel were quietly dropped. By 2010, Fox decided to try again, and working once more with Peter Chernin - now an independent producer - Rise of the Apes began filming with a scheduled release in June 2011.

The Walt Disney Company is currently negotiating with 21st Century Fox to acquire Fox's filmed entertainment, cable entertainment, direct broadcast satellite divisions and the distribution rights to the first Star Wars film.[2][3][4][5][6][7]


  • William Fox (1915-1930)
  • Harley Clarke (1930-1932)
  • Sidney R. Kent (1932-1935)
  • Sidney R. Kent (1935-1941)
  • Spyros P. Skouras (1942-1962)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1962-1969)
  • Richard D. Zanuck (1969-1970)
  • Gordon Stulberg ( -1974)
  • Alan Ladd Jr. (1974-1979)
  • Strauss H. Zelnick (1989-1993)
  • Bill Mechanic (1993-2000)

Head of Production

  • Winfield Sheehan (-1935)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1933-1935)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1935-1956)
  • Buddy Adler (1956-1962)
  • Richard D. Zanuck (1963-1969)
  • Stan Hough (1969-1979)
  • Alan J. Hirschfield (1979-1981)
  • Sherry Lansing (1980-1982)
  • Tom Jacobson (1989-1995)
  • Dylan Sellers (1993-1995)
  • Tom Rothman (1995-2000)

Chairman / Chief Executive Officer

  • Joseph M. Schenck (1933-1935)
  • Joseph M. Schenck (1935-1941)
  • Spyros P. Skouras (1962-1969)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1969-1971)
  • William T. Gossett (1971)
  • Dennis C. Stanfill (1971-1981)
  • Alan J. Hirschfield (1981-1984)
  • Barry Diller (1984-1992)
  • Joe Roth (1989-1991)
  • Peter Chernin (1992-1996)
  • Bill Mechanic (1996-2000)
  • Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos (2000-2012)
  • Jim Gianopulos (2012-2014)
  • Jim Gianopulos and Stacey Snider (2014-2016)
  • Stacey Snider (2016- )

External LinksEdit


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