Fox Film Chief Warns Studios to Not Rely on Just Superhero Movies

Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider says studios should appeal to audiences with a broad range of content for diverse audiences and not rely solely on tentpoles “based on caped crusaders,” Variety reports.

“The studios need to have a bigger appetite for big cinematic, tentpole-type entertainment that isn’t necessarily based on branded material,” Snider said during an appearance at the film exhibitors’ conference on Monday.

“When you think about The Greatest Showman… what we had to hang onto was that the music was incredible and that, if ever there was a person to be The Greatest Showman at Christmastime, it was Hugh Jackman. The same with The Martian – it was based on a book that was self-published. It was hardly a bestseller.”

Even as the superhero genre dominates the moviegoing landscape, Snider said movies “can’t just be based on caped crusaders” as the film business becomes more globalized and focuses on more universal themes.

“If we don’t continue to reach out to the folks that come more than just to see The Avengers, we are going to have just the weekend business,” she added, saying Hollywood should continue to produce movies aimed at what she called “the non-event-film goer.”

Studios should also stay alert in the social media age, she said, paying mind to wider and more easily-accessed word-of-mouth as studios can swiftly go from having their best month to their worst.

“[This] is a reality that we have all had to live with for the last several years,” she said. “I think it is a result of a consumer who is more knowledgeable – they have more information about the quality of the films, they’ve got more choice, so they can opt in or opt out based on word of mouth and other recommendations.”

Snider singled out the importance of big Marvel-inspired blockbuster tentpoles like the X-Men and Deadpool franchises, which should be valued a broad selection of content in multiple genres to appeal to other audiences.

“For the studios that expect that more of the same will always bring a result, there is folly in that. We want to continue, for example, with our X-Men movies and our Deadpool movies, but at the same time we have great success with a movie like Murder on the Orient Express or The Greatest Showman, where we are very mindful of speaking to this global audience, but not doing it in a way that in the past has homogenized all of the product,” Snider said. “Where things fall off the cliff is when that bright consumer says, ‘I have seen this movie.’”

The studio head also noted the importance of globalization and diversity, pointing to Disney’s massive success with Marvel Studios smash hit Black Panther and Disney-Pixar’s animated Coco.

“There are plenty of examples out there that signal that including diversity and including a local perspective in these larger movies is great business,” Snider said.

“When you look at a movie like Black Panther or Coco, or in the case of Deadpool — it is led by Ryan Reynolds, a Caucasian, but we have a diverse cast that surrounds him — I would venture to say that Zazie Beetz is as popular in the film as he is. We are mindful that these big franchise films need to be original, need to respond to local cultures, and local diverse casts.”

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Snider reported Fox Searchlight’s Best Picture-winning The Shape of Water was close to pulling in $200 million overseas, doing better business in Latin America than Star Wars. “We just have to be able to be responsive to the world audience that is available to us,” she said.

Disney and Fox shareholders will vote on a proposed merger between the two companies July 10, which would see Fox’s film and television assets absorbed by The Walt Disney Company, who would then integrate Fox’s superhero properties — the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Deadpool, and ancillary characters — into the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe.