20th 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).
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
On June 14, Bloomberg News reported that the New York Yankees were seeking to invoke a clause in Fox's purchase of stakes in YES Network, allowing them to buy back Fox's stake in the event of a change in ownership (and thus prevent it from being included in the sale).
On June 18, it was reported that Disney will add to its already existing $52 billion claim to contest Comcast's proposed counter-offer for the Fox assets.
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.
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 was needed to be voted on by shareholders. 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."
On July 11, 21st Century Fox raised its bid to purchase Sky's assets to $32.5 billion, and $18.57 a share. In response, Comcast increased its bid to $34 billion, and $19.5 a share. At the same time, Fox was given clearance by the British government to purchase Sky. The bidding war for Sky led to some analysts speculating that Comcast could give up bidding for 21st Century Fox in favor of a smaller battle.
On July 12, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal with the D.C. Circuit to reverse the District Court's approval for AT&T acquisition of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). Although analysts say that the chances of the 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." 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."
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. Also on that same day, British regulators have decided that if Disney purchases Fox's assets before Sky's purchase from either Fox or Comcast, it will be forced to launch a bid for the full ownership of Sky, at a minimum of $18.6 a share.
On July 16, CNBC reported that Comcast is unlikely to continue its bidding war to acquire Fox from Disney in favor of Sky.
On July 18, Bloomberg reported that the Sky board also scheduled July 27, 2018 as the day shareholders vote on selling Sky properties.
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."
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. 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 USA resulted in the merger between Qualcomm and NXP not being realized.
On August 7, it was reported that 21st Century Fox has until September 22 to come up with a new bid for Sky plc. 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.
On August 12, the Competition Commission of India approved the Disney-Fox deal.
On August 28, it was reported that the New York Yankees are planning to buy back the YES Network in the sale of Fox to Disney.
In August, Disney and Fox hired a lobbyist firm in Georgeson & Co. to evaluate what Sky shareholders want from their next bid. This is expected to be their last bid submitted before September 21 which is the deadline set by the UK Takeover Panel before entering into the "final auction" over the following week. The new owner of Sky is set to be determined by close of business on September 28.
On September 20, all companies (Disney, Fox, Comcast and Sky) all agreed to a one-day auction process to decide the winner of Sky with the UK Takeover Panel. This auction will have a maximum of three bidding rounds in the following format:
- Round 1 - Disney and Fox can bid more for Sky (they do not have to proceed further).
- Round 2 - Comcast can bid more for Sky (they do not have to proceed further).
- Round 3 - Disney and Fox and Comcast separately write down their final bid and the Panel declare the highest offer and thus winner for Sky.
The auction process will begin on 5PM BST on September 21 and conclude in the evening of September 22 with the winner being declared by the Panel at 7AM on September 23.
- William Fox (President of Fox Film Corporation 1915-1930)
- Harley Clarke (President of Fox Film Corporation 1930-1932)
- Sidney R. Kent (President of Fox Film Corporation 1932-1935)
- Sidney R. Kent (1935-1941)
- Spyros P. Skouras (1941-1962)
- Darryl F. Zanuck (1962-1969)
- Richard D. Zanuck (1969-1970)
- Gordon Stulberg (1970-1974)
- Alan Ladd Jr. (1974-1979)
- Strauss H. Zelnick (President and Chief Operating Officer 1989-1993)
- Bill Mechanic (1993-2000)
Head of Production
- Winfield Sheehan (Head of Production at Fox Film Corporation 1933-1935)
- Darryl F. Zanuck (Vice President in Charge of Production at Twentieth Century Pictures 1933-1935)
- Darryl F. Zanuck (Vice President in Charge of Production 1935-1956)
- Buddy Adler (Vice President in Charge of Production 1956-1962)
- Richard D. Zanuck (Vice President in Charge of Production 1962-1969)
- Stan Hough (Vice President in Charge of Production 1969-1979)
- Alan J. Hirschfield (Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer 1979-1981)
- Sherry Lansing (President of production 1980-1982)
- Tom Jacobson (Executive Vice President of Production 1989-93, president of worldwide production 1993-95)
- Dylan Sellers (Vice President in Charge of Production 1993-1995)
- Tom Rothman (1995-2000)
Chairman / Chief Executive Officer
- Joseph M. Schenck (President of Twentieth Century Pictures 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 (Production Chief/Chairman of 20th Century-Fox Film Corp 1989-1991)
- Peter Chernin (chief operating officer/'Chairman of 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment' 1992-1996)
- Bill Mechanic (Chairman of 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment 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-present)
- ↑ Natalie Trundy: Monkey Business on the Planet of the Apes - 'Planet of the Apes' UK Issue #26 (19 April 1975)
- ↑ The Walt Disney Company To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., After Spin-Off Of Certain Businesses, For $52.4 Billion In Stock, The Walt Disney Company, December 14, 2017
- ↑ Fox Jumps on Report That Comcast Is Considering Counterbid to Disney, Bloomberg, May 7, 2018
- ↑ Disney rounding up cash to fight off Comcast's rival bid for Fox, Fierce Cable, May 29, 2018
- ↑ Fox And Disney Set Shareholder Meetings For Vote On Merger, Deadline Hollywood, May 30, 2018
- ↑ Decisive AT&T Victory Sets Stage for Comcast to Challenge Disney for 21st Century Fox Assets, Variety, June 12, 2018
- ↑ Comcast makes $65 billion offer to steal 21st Century Fox away from Disney, The Verge, June 13, 2018
- ↑ Yankees Consider Buying Back YES If Fox Sells Assets, Bloomberg, June 14, 2018
- ↑ Disney is expected to add cash to its bid for Twenty-First Century Fox assets, CNBC, June 18, 2018
- ↑ Disney Offers to Take on Sky News for 15 Years; Channel to Get $2 Billion Investment, Variety, June 19, 2018
- ↑ Disney Sweetens Offer for Fox to $71 Billion, Outbidding Comcast, Bloomberg, June 20, 2018
- ↑ The Walt Disney Company Signs Amended Acquisition Agreement To Acquire Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc., For $71.3 Billion In Cash And Stock, The Walt Disney Company, June 20, 2018
- ↑ Fox agrees to Disney's new $71.3 billion offer, rejecting Comcast, CNET, June 20, 2018
- ↑ Disney's Bob Iger On Need For Fox Deal: "The Consumer Is Voting — Loudly", Deadline Hollywood, June 20, 2018
- ↑ Disney wins US antitrust approval to buy Fox assets, CNBC, June 27, 2018
- ↑ Murdoch's Fox increases Sky bid to £24.5bn in takeover battle, BBC.com, July 11, 2018
- ↑ Comcast Raises Bid for Sky as Regulatory Decision Accelerates Sale Process, Variety, July 11, 2018
- ↑ 21st Century Fox Given Clearance To Buy Sky By British Government, Deadline Hollywood, July 12, 2018
- ↑ The DOJ has a slim chance of blocking the AT&T-Time Warner deal, but even that may be enough for Comcast to throw in the towel on Fox, CNBC, July 13, 2018
- ↑ DOJ challenge to AT&T-Time Warner deal could affect Disney and Comcast's bidding war for Fox, says AT&T's Stephenson, CNBC, July 13, 2018
- ↑ Disney's $71 Billion Fox Bid Wins Backing From ISS, Glass Lewis, Bloomberg, July 13, 2018
- ↑ British regulator sets 14 pound floor under Sky shares, Reuters, July 13, 2018
- ↑ Comcast unlikely to raise Fox bid; focused on Sky: Sources, CNBC, July 16, 2018
- ↑ Sky Hearing on Same Day as Fox Vote Complicates Comcast Bid, Bloomberg, July 18, 2018
- ↑ Comcast gives up on buying 21st Century Fox assets and leaves Disney as the winner, The Verge, July 19, 2018
- ↑ TCI Votes in Favor of Disney's Offer for Fox's Assets, Bloomberg, July 25, 2018
- ↑ Fox and Disney Shareholders Vote to Approve $71.3 Billion Merger, The Wrap, July 27, 2018
- ↑ Disney Investors Worry Beijing Could Be Tricky Fox Deal Hurdle, Bloomberg, July 27, 2018
- ↑ Deadline for New Fox Bid for Sky Is Set for September, Variety, August 7, 2018
- ↑ Fox has until Sept. 22 to top Comcast's bid for Sky, CNBC, August 8, 2018
- ↑ Viacom wants to License its TV Ads Targeting Tech to the Entire Industry and its Starting with Fox, Business Insider, August 9, 2018
- ↑ Fox-Disney deal: CCI approves takeover of Murdoch's company in India, Smart Investor, August 12, 2018
- ↑ Yankees Intend To Buy Back YES Network In Sale of FOX To Disney, Forbes, August 28, 2018
- ↑ Murdoch's last-ditch assault in Sky battle: Mogul hires lobbyists to help seal TV megadeal, This is Money, September 8, 2018
- ↑ EU regulators to rule on Disney's $71 billion bid for Fox assets by October 19, Reuters, September 17, 2018
- ↑ U.K. Takeover Panel Pits Comcast, Fox, Disney in Final Bidding Auction for Sky, The Street, September 20, 2018