In a case where stating the obvious will likely be marked somehow controversial, Fox Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch told investors on Monday that the studio needs content that doesn't come from Marvel in order to thrive.
“We don’t want to be a place where people say, ‘If it’s not a comic book movie, or something else, then I wouldn’t even take it to them,'” Variety quotes Murdoch as saying.
The studio currently holds the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, but they must continue to make those films regularly or run the risk of those rights reverting to Disney-owned Marvel Studios. Fox knows better than anybody the sting of losing big-ticket blockbusters to Disney, as they were the studio who first distributed the Star Wars franchise. With Lucasfilm now owned by Disney, a recent digital release of the six existing films in that series saw five of them listed as Disney product.
“We don’t want to be a film business that’s only making one type of picture, we want to be a film business that has a real diversity of output,” Murdoch added.
Last year, Fox had big hits with Gone Girl and The Fault in Our Stars. While they were adaptations of existing source material (novels), they were some of the biggest financial successes of 2014 that didn't come in the form of a continuation of an existing film franchise (or, in the case of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, the first installment in what is planned to be a continuing franchise).
Currently, Fox is developing a sequel to last year's popular Planet of the Apes sequel as well as new at least three new X-Men installments and two Fantastic Four movies.