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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (spelled from 1935 to 1985 as Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation), also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox, is one of the six major American film studios. Located in the Century Citymarker area of Los Angelesmarker, just west of Beverly Hillsmarker, the studio is a subsidiary of News Corporation, the media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch. The company was founded in 1935, as the result of a merger of two entities, Fox Film Corporation founded by William Fox in 1915, and Twentieth Century Pictures, begun in 1933 by Darryl F. Zanuck, Joseph Schenck, Raymond Griffith and William Goetz.

Some of 20th Century Fox's most popular movie franchises include the Star Wars, Ice Age, X-Men, Die Hard, Alien, Revenge of the Nerds, Planet of the Apes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Night at the Museum, Home Alone, Garfield, The X-Files, Predator, and The Chronicles of Narnia (which was previously distributed by Walt Disney Pictures) series. Some of the famous stars to come out of this studio were Shirley Temple, who was 20th Century Fox's first movie star, Betty Grable, Gene Tierney, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.


Fox Film Corporation

"Fox Film Corporation" redirects here.
The Fox Film Corporation was formed in 1915 by the theater "chain" pioneer William Fox, who formed Fox Film Corporation by merging two companies he had established in 1913: Greater New York Film Rental, a distribution firm, which was part of the Independents; and Fox (or Box, depending on the source) Office Attractions Company, a production company. This merging of a distribution company and a production company was an early example of vertical integration. Only a year before, the latter company had distributed Winsor McCay's groundbreaking cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur.

Always more of an entrepreneur than a showman, Fox concentrated on acquiring and building theaters; pictures were secondary. The company's first film studios were set up in Fort Lee, New Jerseymarker, but in 1917, William Fox sent Sol M. Wurtzel to Hollywood, Californiamarker to oversee the studio's new West Coast production facilities where a more hospitable and cost-effective climate existed for film making.

With the introduction of sound technologies, Fox moved to acquire the rights to a sound-on-film process. In the years 1925-26, Fox purchased the rights to the work of Freeman Harrison Owens, the U.S. rights to the Tri-Ergon system invented by three German inventors, and the work of Theodore Case. This resulted in the Movietone sound system later known as 'Fox Movietone'. Later that year, the company began offering films with a music-and-effects track, and the following year Fox began the weekly Fox Movietone News feature, which ran until 1963. The growing company needed space, and in 1926 Fox acquired 300 acres (1.2 km2) in the open country west of Beverly Hills and built "Movietone City", the best-equipped studio of its time.

When rival Marcus Loew died in 1927, Fox offered to buy the Loew family's holdings. Loew's Inc. controlled more than 200 theaters as well as the MGM studio (whose films are currently distributed internationally by Fox). When the family agreed to the sale, the merger of Fox and Loew's Inc. was announced in 1929. But MGM studio-boss Louis B. Mayer, not included in the deal, fought back. Using political connections, Mayer called on the Justice Departmentmarker's anti-trust unit to block the merger. Fortunately for Mayer, Fox was badly injured in a car crash in the summer of 1929, and by the time he recovered the stock market crash in the fall of 1929 had taken most of his fortune, putting an end to the Loew's merger.

Over-extended and close to bankruptcy, Fox was stripped of his empire and even ended up in jail. Fox Film, with more than 500 theatres, was placed in receivership. A bank-mandated reorganization propped the company up for a time, but it was clear a merger was the only way Fox Film could survive. Under the new president Sidney Kent, the new owners began negotiating with an upstart but powerful independent organization called Twentieth Century Pictures in the early spring of 1935.

Twentieth Century Pictures

Twentieth Century Pictures was an independent Hollywood motion picture production company created in 1932 by Joseph Schenck, the former president of United Artists, Darryl F. Zanuck from Warner Brothers, William Goetz from Fox Films, and Raymond Griffith. Financial backing came from Schenck's older brother Nicholas Schenck and the father-in-law of Goetz, Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM Studios . Company product was distributed by United Artists(UA), and was filmed at various studios.

Schenck was President of 20th Century while Zanuck was named Vice President in Charge of Production and Goetz served as vice-president. Successful from the very beginning, their 1934 production, The House of Rothschild was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1935, they produced the classic film Les Misérables, from Victor Hugo's novel, which was also nominated for Best Picture. Legend has it that the new independent took a detour straight into the major studio camp when Zanuck became outraged by United Artists' refusal to reward Twentieth Century with UA stock. Schenck, who had been a UA stockholder for over ten years, resigned from United Artists in protest of the shoddy treatment of Twentieth Century, and Zanuck began discussions with other distributors which led to talks with the floundering giant, Fox.

For a list of films produced by Twentieth Century Pictures, see List of 20th Century Pictures films.

Twentieth Century/Fox merger

Joe Schenck and Fox management agreed to a merger; Spyros Skouras, then manager of the Fox-West Coast theaters, helped in the merger (and later became president of the new company). Although Twentieth Century was the senior partner in the merger, it was still a dwarf compared to Fox. With this in mind, observers of this mouse-and-elephant combination expected that the new company would be called "Fox-Twentieth Century." However, the new company was called The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, which began trading on May 31, 1935. (The hyphen was dropped in 1985.) Schenck became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, while Kent remained as President. Zanuck became Vice President in Charge of Production, replacing Fox's longtime production chief Winfield Sheehan.

Aside from the theater chain and a first-rate studio lot, Zanuck and Schenck felt there wasn't much else to Fox. The studio's biggest star, Will Rogers, died in a plane crash weeks after the merger. Its leading female star, Janet Gaynor, was fading in popularity. Promising leading men James Dunn and Spencer Tracy had been dropped because of heavy drinking. Zanuck quickly signed young actors who would carry Twentieth Century-Fox for years: Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney,Sonja Henie, and Betty Grable. And also on the Fox payroll he found two players whom he would build into the studio's leading assets, Alice Faye and seven-year-old Shirley Temple. Favoring popular biographies and musicals, Zanuck built Fox back to profitability. Thanks to record attendance during World War II, Fox passed RKO and mighty MGM to become the third-most profitable studio. While Zanuck went off for eighteen months' war service, junior partner William Goetz kept profits high by emphasizing light entertainment. The studio's—indeed the industry's—biggest star was creamy blonde Betty Grable.

In 1942 Spyros Skouras succeeded Schenck as president of the studio. Together with Zanuck, who returned in 1943, they intended to make Fox's output more serious-minded. During the next few years, with pictures like The Razor's Edge, Wilson, Gentleman's Agreement, The Snake Pit, Boomerang, and Pinky, Zanuck established a reputation for provocative, adult films. Fox also specialized in adaptations of best-selling books Ben Ames Williams' Leave Her to Heaven (1945) staring Gene Tierney which was the highest grossing Fox film of the 1940s. Also Broadway musicals, including the Rodgers and Hammerstein films, beginning with the musical version of State Fair in 1945, and continuing on years later with Carousel in 1956, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. They also distributed, but did not make, the CinemaScope version of Oklahoma! and the 1958 film version of South Pacific.

After the war, audiences drifted away, and the arrival of television hastened the process. Fox held on to its theaters until a court-mandated divorce; they were spun off as Fox National Theaters in 1953. That year, with attendance at one-half 1946's level, Fox gambled on an unproven gimmick. Noting that the two movie sensations of 1952 had been Cinerama, which required three projectors to fill a giant curved screen, and "Natural Vision" 3-D, which got its effects of depth by requiring the use of polarized glasses, Fox mortgaged its studio to buy rights to a French anamorphic projection system which gave a slight illusion of depth without glasses. President Spyros Skouras struck a deal with the inventor Henri Chrétien, leaving the other filmstudios empty-handed, and in 1953 introduced CinemaScope in the studio's groundbreaking feature film The Robe.

The success of The Robe was so massive that in February 1953 Zanuck announced that henceforth all Fox pictures would be made in CinemaScope. To convince theater owners to install this new process, Fox agreed to help pay conversion costs (about $25,000 per screen); and to ensure enough product, Fox gave access to CinemaScope to any rival studio choosing to use it. Seeing the box-office for the first two CinemaScope features, The Robe and How to Marry a Millionaire, Warner Bros., MGM, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures (1 film only while others are VistaVision), Columbia Pictures and Disney quickly adopted the process.

CinemaScope brought a brief up-turn in attendance, but by 1956 the numbers again began to slide. That year Darryl Zanuck announced his resignation as head of production. Officially attributed to burn-out, rumors persisted that his wife had threatened divorce (in community-property California) after discovering Zanuck's affair with actress Bella Darvi. Zanuck moved to Paris, setting up as an independent producer; he did not set foot in California again for fifteen years.

Production and financial problems

His successor, producer Buddy Adler, died a year later. President Spyros Skouras brought in a series of production executives, but none had Zanuck's success. By the early 1960s Fox was in trouble. A remake of Theda Bara's Cleopatra had begun in 1959 with Joan Collins in the lead. As a publicity gimmick, producer Walter Wanger offered one million dollars to Elizabeth Taylor if she would star. Taylor accepted, and costs for Cleopatra began to escalate, aggravated by Richard Burton's on-set romance with Taylor, and the media frenzy that surrounded it.

Meanwhile, another remake—this one of the 1940 Cary Grant hit My Favorite Wife—was rushed into production in an attempt to turn over a quick profit to help keep Fox afloat. The romantic comedy, titled Something's Got to Give paired Fox's most bankable star of the 1950s—Marilyn Monroe—with Dean Martin, but with a troubled star and director (George Cukor) causing delays on a daily basis, it quickly descended into a costly debacle. As Cleopatra's budget passed the ten-million dollar mark, Fox sold its back lot (now the site of Century Citymarker) to Alcoa in 1961 to raise cash. After several months of very little progress, Marilyn Monroe was fired from Something's Got to Give, although somewhat controversially Elizabeth Taylor's highly disruptive reign on the Cleopatra set continued unchallenged.

With few pictures on the schedule, Skouras wanted to rush Zanuck's big-budget war epic The Longest Day, a highly accurate recounting of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, into release as another source of quick cash. This offended Zanuck, still Fox's largest shareholder, for whom The Longest Day was a labor of love that he had dearly wanted to produce for years. After it became clear that Something's Got to Give would not be able to progress without Monroe in the lead (Martin had refused to work with anyone else), Skouras finally relented and re-signed her. But days before filming was due to resume, she was found dead at her Los Angelesmarker home and the unfinished scenes from Something's Got to Give were shelved. They wouldn't see the light of day for nearly 40 years. Rather than being rushed into release as if it were a B-picture, The Longest Day was lovingly and carefully produced under Zanuck's supervision. It was finally released at a length of three hours, with a huge international cast, and went on to be recognized as one of the great World War II films.

At the next board meeting, Zanuck spoke for eight hours, convincing directors that Skouras was mis-managing the company and that he was the only possible successor. Zanuck was installed as chairman, and then named his son Richard Zanuck as president. This new management group seized Cleopatra and rushed it to completion, shut down the studio, laid off the entire staff to save money, axed the long-running Movietone Newsreel and made a series of cheap, popular pictures that restored Fox as a major studio. The biggest boost to the studio's fortunes came from the tremendous success of The Sound of Music (1965), an expensive and handsomely produced adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, which became one of the all-time greatest box office hits.

Fox also had two big science-fiction hits in the 1960's: Fantastic Voyage (which introduced Racquel Welch to movie audiences) in 1966, and the original Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston, in 1968.

Zanuck stayed on as chairman until 1971 but his last years saw several expensive flops, resulting in Fox posting losses from 1969 to 1971. Following his removal, and after an uncertain period, new management brought Fox back to health. Under president Dennis Stanfill and production head Alan Ladd, Jr., Fox films connected with modern audiences. Stanfill used the profits to acquire resort properties, soft-drink bottlers, Australian theaters, and other properties in an attempt to diversify enough to offset the boom-or-bust cycle of picture-making. In 1977, Fox's success would also reach new heights and produced the most profitable film made up to that time, Star Wars.

Rupert Murdoch

With financial stability came new owners, and in 1978 control passed to the investors Marc Rich and Marvin Davis. In early 1985, Davis sold Rich's (who had fled the U.S. after evading $100,000,000 in U.S. income taxes) half of Fox to News Corp. Six months later, Davis sold his half of Fox, giving Rupert Murdoch's company complete control. To run the studio, Murdoch hired Barry Diller from Paramount. Diller brought with him a plan which Paramount's board had refused: a studio-backed, fourth free-to-air commercial television-network.

But to gain FCC approval of Fox's purchase of Metromedia's television holdings (once the stations of the old DuMont network), Murdoch had to become an American citizen. He did so in 1985 (the same year Twentieth Century Fox dropped the hyphen from its name), and in 1986, the new Fox Broadcasting Company took to the air. Over the next twenty-odd years the network and owned-stations group have expanded to become extremely profitable for News Corp. The film studio has prospered too, with Fox choosing to back away from its reputation for literary adaptations and adult themes to concentrate on larger movies such as the Star Wars trilogies (1977-1983 and 1999-2005), 1997's Titanic (a co-production with Paramount Pictures), and others.

Since January 2001, this company has been the international distributor for MGM/UA releases, and as of 2006, the worldwide video distributor for the MGM/UA library. In the 1980s, Fox – through a joint venture with CBS, called CBS/Fox Video, had distributed certain UA films on video, thus UA has come full circle by switching to Fox for video distribution.

Fox also makes money distributing movies for small independent film companies.

In 2008, Fox announced an Asian subsidiary, Fox STAR Studios, a joint venture with STAR TV, also owned by News Corporation. Fox STAR will start producing films for the Bollywood market first, then will expand to several Asian markets in the coming years.


20th Television is Fox's television syndication division. 20th Century Fox Television is the studio's television production division.

Logo and fanfare

The distinctive Art Deco 20th Century Fox logo, designed by famed landscape artist Emil Kosa, Jr., originated as the 20th Century Pictures logo, with the name "Fox" substituted for "Pictures, Inc." in 1935. The logo was originally created as a painting on several layers of glass and animated frame-by-frame. It had very little animation – just a sideline view of the tower with searchlights, some moving and some non-moving. Over the years, the logo's design went through several changes. In the 1950s, Rocky Longo, an artist at Pacific Title, was hired to recreate the original design for the new CinemaScope process. In order to give the rather static design the required "width", Longo tilted the "0" in 20th—an idiosyncratic element which became part of the design for more than two decades. In 1981, after Longo repainted the eight-layered glass panels (and straightened the "0"), his revised logo became the official trademark.

In 1994, after a few false starts and expensive failed attempts (which even included trying to film the familiar monument as an actual three-dimensional model), Fox in-house television producer Kevin Burns was hired to produce an all-new, standardized logo – this time using the new process of CGI. With the help of graphics producer Steve Soffer and his company Studio Productions (which had recently given face-lifts to the Paramount and Universal logos), Burns directed that the new logo contain more detail and animation, so that the longer (21 second) Fox fanfare with the "CinemaScope extension" could be used as the underscore. This required a virtual Los Angeles Citymarker be designed around the monument—one in which buildings, moving cars and street lights can be briefly glimpsed. In the background can be seen the famous Hollywood signmarker, which would give the monument an actual location (approximating Fox's actual address in Century Citymarker). One final touch was the addition of store front signs – each one bearing the name of Fox executives who were at the studio at the time. One of the signs reads, "Murdoch's Department Store"; another says "Chernin's" and a third reads: "Burns Tri-City Alarm" (an homage to Burns' late father who owned a burglar and fire alarm company in Upstate New York). The 1994 CGI logo was also the first time that Twentieth Century Fox was recognized as "A News Corporation Company" in the logo, despite being owned by News Corp. for eight years to that point.

The Fox fanfare was originally composed in 1933 by Alfred Newman, head of Fox's music department from 1940 until the 1960s. It originally was used in films made by Darryl F. Zanuck's Twentieth Century Pictures before the company merged with Fox films.

In 1953, an extended version was created for CinemaScope films, and debuted on the film How to Marry a Millionaire, released that same year. (The Robe, the first film released in CinemaScope, used the sound of a choir singing over the logo, instead of the regular fanfare.)

By the 1970s, the Fox fanfare was only being used sporadically in films. George Lucas enjoyed the Alfred Newman music so much that he insisted it be used for Star Wars (1977), which features the CinemaScope version. Composer John Williams composed the Star Wars main theme in the same key as the Fox fanfare as an extension to Newman's score. In 1980, Williams conducted a new version of the fanfare for The Empire Strikes Back. Williams' recording of the Fox fanfare has been used in every Star Wars film since.

As the CGI logo was being prepped to premiere at the beginning of James Cameron's True Lies (1994), Burns tapped composer Bruce Broughton to perform a new version of the familiar fanfare. In 1997, Alfred's son, composer David Newman, recorded the version of the fanfare in Anastasia (1997), that is currently being used.

Parodies of the fanfare have appeared at the start of the films The Cannonball Run (cars drive around the logo), White Men Can't Jump (rap version of the fanfare), The Day After Tomorrow (thunderstorm on the set), Live Free or Die Hard (where the spotlights go out as a result of a terrorist-controlled power outage), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (piano-rock version of the fanfare), The Simpsons Movie (Ralph Wiggum "sings along" with the fanfare; in trailers and commercials, the "0" in the tower is replaced by a pink, half-bitten doughnut, the type Homer eats), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (with snow and volcanoes covering the logo, but the regular 20th Century Fox logo was shown on the movie's home video release instead) and Minority Report (where the logo, alongside its DreamWorksmarker counterpart, appears immersed in water, similar to the film's "precog" characters). In the 2003 production, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the logo appears as a huge unlit monument dominating the nighttime London skyline. In the "X-Men" films of the 2000's, the "X" in "Fox" remains ghosted on the screen as the scene fades out.

One parody of particular interest was seen at the end of Fox's Futurama, the words "20th Century Fox" were changed to "30th Century Fox" as a nod to the shows setting, the 30th and 31st centuries.

As a surprise twist, the opening fanfare for Alien³ has the music "freeze" on the penultimate melody tone, and then adds wailing French horns and bending strings, before continuing with a crash into the opening titles, thus setting the dark mood for the movie.

Fox Searchlight Pictures, Foxstar Productions, and Fox Studios Australiamarker are just a few of the other corporate entities that have used variations on the original 1933 design.


  • Custen, George F., Twentieth Century's Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Culture of Hollywood; New York: BasicBooks, 1997; ISBN 0-465-07619-X

See also

External links



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