Movie fans knew big changes would be coming to 20th Century Fox after the Disney purchase, and they weren't wrong. Disney quickly made sweeping changes to the 20th Century Fox staff and executive pool; closed down entire divisions of the studio; shuffled or outright canceled hundreds of films in development and/or on the release slate; and now, Disney is getting rid of the "Fox" name-association, altogether. It's now being officially reported that Disney will be changing the name "20th Century Fox" to "20th Century Studios," while "Fox Searchlight Pictures" will be renamed "Searchlight Pictures." So far, there are reportedly no final decisions on whether to change the 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television names.
The process is already up and rolling, as Variety tells it:
"Email addresses have changed for Searchlight staffers, with the fox.com address replaced with a searchlightpictures.com address. On the poster for Searchlight’s next film “Downhill,” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, the credits begin with “Searchlight Pictures Presents.” The film will be the first Searchlight release to debut with the new logo. “Call of the Wild,” an upcoming family film, will be released under the 20th Century banner, sans Fox."
None of this should be surprising, if we're all being honest with ourselves. We always knew Disney was going to be making changes to Fox after it acquired the studio, and a name-change only makes sense in that regard. After all, the Fox name and brand hasn't gone away with the Disney purchase - the company just sold off its movie studios and a portion of its sports network, while retaining other divisions like the Fox News Network.
In fact, it could be that latter entity (Fox News) that could be Disney's biggest motivator for dropping any "Fox" associations from its acquisitions; to say that the Fox News Network is a controversial topic in modern American discourse would be a gross understatement. Disney can still break up its own content into lanes where the "Disney" brand retains its family-friendly shine, while "20th Century Studios" can put out more mature-rated genre fare (action, horror, comedy, etc). No risk of the "Fox" name tainting any of that renewed push into the movie market.
One has to wonder, then, if the hesitation to tweak the TV divisions has any basis in Disney's consideration of whether it could lure the Fox News audience based on name-recognition and classic branding. Time will tell.
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