“Disney will release all of Fox’s movies that are complete or in production at the time of the acquisition, said a person with knowledge of its plans. It’s less certain what will happen to films still in development at the time of the takeover.”
So says entertainment reporter Ben Fritz in his latest Wall Street Journal article. The gist of his report is this:
Things are super awkward at Fox these days.
In a business where something you start today might not see the light of day until 2 or 3 years from now, and only that early if you’re lucky, Fox has to proceed like everything’s normal even though it won’t exist anymore a year from now. As soon as Bob Iger receives the foreign regulatory approvals he needs, 20th Century Fox will be absorbed into the Disney infrastructure. Almost everyone in the distribution and marketing departments will be laid off. The studio’s boss, Stacey Boss, will probably be joining them, albeit exiting with a guaranteed golden parachute.
Things could be better, basically.
Not surprisingly, those most likely to be laid off are already job-hunting, something Snider is discouraging by extending all of their contracts. That won’t save them from Disney’s ax, but it might keep some of them around long enough for Fox to continue running smoothly, at least for a little while longer. After all, the Disney takeover won’t even take effect for another year. Until then, the studio has to keep the lights on, and mass employee departures certainly won’t help with that.
No one knows for sure what Disney will do with everything Fox has in development.
For the next year, while Fox continues to operate under the false pretense that everything is normal there is a larger question as to what will become of the various projects they work on between now and the takeover date. Fritz, as per the quote, hears Disney is committing to releasing whatever Fox happens to have finished or already in production. Anything in development, however, will probably be canceled unless it fits into Disney’s preferred family-friendly model or can be moved over to Hulu.
Does this mean there will be a mad rush over the next year to speed up development cycles and have as many projects as possible in some stage of production when Snyder has to hand over the keys to Iger? No one would put it quite like that to Fritz.
So, what exactly does Fox have in development, other than all those X-Men projects and Avatar sequels we already know about?
According to Fritz’s sources, the development slate currently includes:
- A second Simpsons movie
- A Bob’s Burgers movie
- A Family Guy “film that would mix animation with live action”
- A new, R-Rated Clue movie re-teaming Ryan Reynolds, who will star and producer, with his Deadpool writers
- A new musical from Wicked’s Stephen Schwartz
- A new live-action/CGI combo adaptation of Call of the Wild
- An adaptation of a comic book “one studio executive described as Game of Thrones with mice”
- Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s movie about the McDonald’s Monopoly game conspiracy
- TV show versions of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ice Age, and Night at the Museum
Let’s just pause to appreciate the extreme awkwardness which will ensue if an actual Family Guy movie ends up having to be released by Disney. It’s hard to picture them following through with that, even if it’s filmed, finished, and ready to go by the time they take over.
Family Guy did once do this:
Back to the report.
The production slate is only partial and doesn’t seem to include anything from the more indie-leaning corners of the studio. Plus, there’s an awful lot there which is simply Fox making a new version of a project it already owns. The reason for that is hardly anyone outside the studio wants to do business with them. The uncertainty factor is just too high. It’s a minor miracle Affleck and Damon’s McDonald’s project, which Affleck will direct and Damon will star in, ended up there. How can you do business with executives who legitimately don’t know if they’ll still be there a year from now?
The Fox Searchlight of it all.
It’s a problem with no easy answer, but those looking to work with Fox can take comfort as well as guidance from this following tidbit:
Two Fox movie divisions are likely to survive, though. Disney CEO Robert Iger has publicly touted Fox Searchlight, which makes “prestige” films like last year’s best picture Oscar winner The Shape of Water and Fox 2000, which specializes in literary adaptations such as the teen coming-out story Love, Simon, which came out earlier this year. Their relatively inexpensive dramas for adults could be valuable for the Hulu streaming service, which Disney will take control of in the acquisition.
I wrote about the Fox Searchlight-Hulu pairing earlier this week when Iger vaguely referenced it on Disney’s quarterly earnings call. The Fox 2000 connection is new to me, though. The logic makes sense, but from a traditionalist standpoint it’s also depressing. A year after Fox 2000 made history with the most widely released gay teen rom-com ever it might be shunted off to streaming.
Beats losing your job, says everyone over in Fox’s marketing and distribution.
What do you think? Which of the in-development projects sound like they have the best chance of actually getting released? Which would you most like to see? Top of my list includes a Simpsons sequel, that Ryan Reynolds Clue project, and the Affleck-Damon McDonalds collaboration, the former out of fandom and the latter two more due to morbid curiosity.
Source: Wall Street Journal