Citing poor returns in their quarterly report, Disney has announced that it is cancelling nearly all of the films that its recent acquired subsidiary Twentieth Century Fox Studios had in development at the time of its acquisition.
Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that outside of a few select projects – including James Cameron’s Avatar films, more Planet Of The Apes and Kingsman films, potential reboots of Home Alone and A Night At The Museum and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming new adaptation of the musical West Side Story – nearly every other project the studio had been working towards getting into production are now dead. Some of the remaining projects, like the more family-oriented Home Alone and Night At The Museum retreads, will be repurposed from theatrical releases to content for the Disney+ streaming service.
The move comes as Disney is reporting that the Fox studio suffered a $170 million operating loss this last quarter. The latest of Fox’s X-Men franchise, Dark Phoenix, was called on the carpet for its poor box office performance. That film only grossed $65 million domestic at the box office against a budget that reportedly came to $200 million.
Additionally, Iger reconfirmed that the Marvel Comics properties that Fox had previously owned the film rights to – the Fantastic Four and X-Men characters including Deadpool – have been transferred over to Marvel Studios. Previously Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige indicated that it would be a couple of years until we see those characters showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.
Although Iger didn’t specifically state which films were now dead in development, we can make some guesses based on titles he stated were safe.
We know that Fox had been developing films based on the video games Mega Man and The Sims as well as a sequel to their 2016 video game adaptation Assassins Creed. Other sequels being developed by the studio include Chronicle 2 and a sixth Die Hard movie, McClane, which was rumored to be a prequel. Another prequel idea that the studio was trying to move ford with was a prequel to the 1993 baseball film The Sandlot. Taika Waititi was working on a new take on Flash Gordon for the studio. Almost undoubtedly, these, along with numerous other projects, are dead in the water.
Currently Fox has a few films in the pipeline for upcoming release including awards hopefuls Ford v. Ferrari and the Brad Pitt-starrer Ad Astra, both set to hit theaters this fall. It also has the Ryan Reynolds comedy Free Guy set for a July 2020 release. In addition to Spielberg’s West Side Story, the studio also has their sequel to Kenneth Brannagh’s adaptation of Murder On The Orient Express being lined up for next year.
While it is possible that Disney may have Fox start developing new projects again in the future, it seems that as for now, the Mouse is content to keep Fox as a boutique studio churning out films based on pre-existing Intellectual Property only. Which is a shame, as it – as predicted – makes there one less studio for filmmakers to take their original projects to.