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

20th Century Fox is a major American film studio located west of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California. The studio, commonly abbreviated to 'Fox', is a subsidiary of the 21st Century Fox media conglomerate.


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 20th Century Pictures (founded in 1933 by Darryl F. Zanuck - former head of production at Warner Bros. - with Joseph Schenck - former President of United Artists - 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, 20th 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 spiralled 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 disastrous 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), with hit-and-miss results.


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. The film concluded with an iconic image of the Statue of Liberty created by veteran matte painter Emil Kosa Jr in one of his final movies; Kosa had also designed the Art Deco 'searchlight' logo for 20th Century Pictures - later altered to reflect the merger with Fox in 1935 - which remains one of the most recognisable images of the movie industry. Planet of the Apes 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 stepped aside for Richard to become President of Twentieth Century-Fox, while he replaced 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 connivance 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. 20th 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 20th Century-Fox studio, and once part of their property. Aware that studio executives would likely demand further film projects, director J. Lee Thompson moulded 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.

The company went through a number of fundamental changes during the 1970s and 1980s. Chairman Dennis Stanfill attempted to introduce a more responsible corporate structure which would prevent the company being controlled by dominant personalities as in the past. The studio had a number of successful films in this era - most notably Star Wars in 1977 which broke all box-office records - but managed to avoid the financial gambles that had characterised the 1960s. Fox was the distributor of the first six Star Wars movies, though they only owned the first film, until The Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012.[2] 20th Century-Fox stock was bought up by the family of oil tycoon Marvin Davis in 1981, and by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch in 1985. The hyphen was formally dropped from the studio name in 1984.

From 1988, studio executives of 20th 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.

For decades the studio remained under the control of Murdoch's 'News Corporation' (itself deriving its name from 'News Limited', a 1920s publisher of Australian regional newspapers), while numerous mergers and divisions altered the structure of the original company. From 2013 the 20th Century Fox studio, the Fox Broadcasting Company and the stand-alone Fox News Channel were all divisions of Fox Entertainment Group, which in turn was owned by '21st Century Fox' (formerly 'News Corporation'). Each company derives its name indirectly from the studio established by William Fox in 1915.

Purchase of copyrights by DisneyEdit


On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced that it was acquiring most of Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox, including the film studio.[3]

On May 7, 2018, shares of Fox rose 5.1% when a report was released that Comcast was in talks with investment banks and firms in order to obtain bridge-financing for an all-cash bid, reportedly worth $60 billion, that threatened the Disney-Fox deal.[4]

On May 29, it was reported that Disney was looking into making its own all-cash counter-offer for Fox assets in the event that Comcast went through with their offer.[5] The next day, Disney and Fox announced that they have set their shareholder vote meetings for July 10, though both companies have stated that Fox's meeting could be postponed if Comcast came through with their offer.[6]

On June 12, AT&T was given approval by District Judge Richard J. Leon to acquire Time Warner, easing concerns Comcast had regarding whether government regulators would block their bid for Fox. Consequently, the next day, Comcast mounted a bid of $65 billion for the 21st Century Fox assets that were set to be acquired by Disney.[7][8]

On June 18, it was reported that Disney will add to its already existing $52 billion claim to contest Comcast's proposed counteroffer for the Fox assets.[9]

On June 20, Disney and Fox announced that they had amended their previous merger agreement, upping Disney’s offer to $71.3 billion (a 10% premium over Comcast's $65 billion offer), while also offering shareholders the option of receiving cash instead of stock.[10][11]

On June 21, Murdoch said in response to Disney's higher offer: "We are extremely proud of the businesses we have built at 21st Century Fox, and firmly believe that this combination with Disney will unlock even more value for shareholders as the new Disney continues to set the pace at a dynamic time for our industry." That still does not prevent other companies from making a bid, as the deal needed to be voted on by shareholders.[12] Iger explained the reasoning behind the bid: "Direct-to-consumer distribution has actually become an even more compelling proposition in the six months since we announced the deal. There has just been not only a tremendous amount of development in that space, but clearly the consumer is voting—loudly."[13]

On June 27, the United States Department of Justice gave antitrust approval to Disney under the condition of selling Fox's 22 regional sports channels, to which the company has agreed.[14]

On July 9, a Fox shareholder filed a lawsuit to stop the acquisition from Disney citing the absence of financial projections for Hulu.[15][16] On the same day, CNBC reported that Comcast was looking for companies that could take over Fox's Regional Sports Networks. This would make easier Comcast's legislative problems regarding the takeover of Fox assets, preparing to make a new all cash counter-offer before July 27, 2018.[17]

On July 12, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. Circuit to reverse the District Court's approval for AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). Although analysts say that the chances of a DOJ win are small, they say it is the "final nail in the coffin for Comcast's Fox chase. This is a clear gift to Disney."[18] On the next day, CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson gave an interview with CNBC, about Comcast's bid for Fox: "It probably can't help it. You're in a situation where two entities are bidding for an asset, and this kind of action can obviously influence the outcome of those actions."[19]

On July 13, Disney received the support of the Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, the two most prominent proxy adviser firms in the world. Fox shareholders were recommended by the advisers as means to provide for Disney's future.[20]

On July 16, CNBC reported that Comcast is unlikely to continue its bidding war to acquire Fox from Disney in favor of Sky.[21]

On July 19, Comcast officially announced that it was dropping its bid on the Fox assets in order to focus on their bid for Sky. The CEO of Comcast, Brian L. Roberts, said "I'd like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company."[22]

On July 25, TCI Fund Management, the second largest shareholder of 21st Century Fox, voted to approve the Fox-Disney deal.[23]

On July 27, Disney and Fox shareholders approved Disney's purchase of Fox's entertainment assets. The acquisition's completions should be in the first half of 2019.[24] On the same day, Bloomberg News reported that out of all 15 nations yet to approve the deal, China could become the biggest threat to the merger since the trade war with the USA resulted in the merger between Qualcomm and NXP not being realized.[25]

On August 9, it was reported that Viacom CEO Robert Bakish wants to license its TV ad targeting tech to the entire industry, starting with Fox.[26]

On August 12, the Competition Commission of India approved the Disney-Fox deal.[27]

On September 17, the European Commission announced plans of deciding what to do with the Disney-Fox deal by October 19.[28]

On October 5, Disney announced the commencement of exchange offers and consent solicitations for 21st Century Fox.[29]

On October 8, Disney announced that 21st Century Fox's top television executives would join the company, including Peter Rice, Gary Knell, John Landgraf, and Dana Walden. Rice will serve as Chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks, succeeding Ben Sherwood while Walden is to be named Chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.[30]

On October 10, it was reported that the new, post-merger organizational structure of "New Fox" would be implemented by January 1, 2019, ahead of the closure of the Disney sale (which is still expected to occur during the first half of 2019).[31]

On October 15, Disney offered a list of concessions to the European Commission, which extended the review deadline to November 6.[32]

On October 18, Disney announced a new organizational structure for The Walt Disney Studios.[33]

On November 6, the sale was cleared by the European Commission, pursuant to the divestment of certain factual television networks in Europe owned by the Disney/Hearst joint venture A&E Networks, including Blaze, Crime & Investigation, History, H2, and Lifetime. Disney will continue to be a 50 percent owner of A&E in areas outside of the European Economic Area.[34]

On November 19, Chinese regulators approved the Disney-Fox deal, without any conditions, with regulatory approval from several countries still remaining.[35]

After obtaining approval from Chinese regulators, Disney reported that it still needed to obtain regulatory approval from several other regulators, though the approvals from the United States, European Union, and China were considered the most important hurdles to clear.[36]

On November 21, Disney expected to get approval from Brazil's antitrust division, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), within two weeks.[37] On December 3, CADE stated that the deal would concentrate the market of cable sports channels. CADE recommended remedial measures, and has until March 23, 2019 to issue a decision; the deadline may be extended for 90 days.[38]

Senior ExecutivesEdit

Fox Film CorporationEdit


  • William Fox (1915-1930)
  • Harley Clarke (1930-1932)
  • Sidney R. Kent (1932-1935)

Head of Production

  • Winfield R. Sheehan (1931-1935)

Twentieth Century PicturesEdit


  • Joseph M. Schenck (1933-1935)

Vice-President & Head of Production

  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1933-1935)

Twentieth Century-Fox Film CorporationEdit


  • Sidney R. Kent (1935-1942)
  • Spyros P. Skouras (1942-1962)
  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1962-1969)
  • Richard D. Zanuck (1969-1970)
  • Gordon Stulberg (1971-1974)
  • Leonard Goldberg (1986-1989)
  • Strauss H. Zelnick (1989-1993)
  • Bill Mechanic (1993-1996)
  • Tom Rothman (1998-2000)
  • Hutch Parker (2005-2007)


  • 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 (1984-1989)
  • Joe Roth (1989-1992)
  • Peter Chernin (1993-1996)
  • Bill Mechanic (1996-2000)
  • Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos (Co-Chairs 2000-2012)
  • Jim Gianopulos (2012-2014)
  • Jim Gianopulos and Stacey Snider (Co-Chairs 2014-2016)
  • Stacey Snider (2016- )

Vice-President & Head of Production

  • Darryl F. Zanuck (1935-1956)
  • Buddy Adler (1956-1960)
  • Bob Goldstein (1960)
  • Peter Levathes (1960-1962)
  • Richard D. Zanuck (1962-1969)
  • Alan Ladd Jr. (1973-1979)

President of Production

  • Sandy Lieberson (1979-1980)
  • Sherry Lansing (1980-1982)
  • Joe Wizan (1982-1984)
  • Lawrence Gordon (1984-1986)
  • Alan Horn (1986)
  • Scott Rudin (1986-1988)
  • Tom Jacobson (1989-93)
  • Dylan Sellers (1993-1995)
  • Tom Rothman (1995-2000)
  • Hutch Parker (2000-2007)
  • Emma Watts and Alex Young (Co-Presidents 2007-2009)
  • Emma Watts (2009- )


  1. "Natalie Trundy: Monkey Business on the Planet of the Apes". 'Planet of the Apes' UK Issue #26 (April 19, 1975). Archived from the original on February 21, 2007. Retrieved on December 4, 2018.
  2. "Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.". The Walt Disney Company (October 30, 2012). Retrieved on October 30, 2012.
  3. "The Walt Disney Company To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., After Spinoff Of Certain Businesses, For $52.4 Billion In Stock". The Walt Disney Company (December 14, 2017). Retrieved on December 14, 2017.
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  25. Ahmed, Nabila (July 27, 2018). "Disney Investors Worry Beijing Could Be Tricky Fox Deal Hurdle". Bloomberg. Retrieved on July 28, 2018.
  26. Bakish, Robert (August 9, 2018). "Viacom wants to License its TV Ads Targeting Tech to the Entire Industry and its Starting with Fox". Business Insider. Retrieved on August 9, 2018.
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External LinksEdit