Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS)
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3 Months : From Jan 2020 to Apr 2020
By R.T. Watson
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (January 18, 2020).
Walt Disney Co. renamed the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio, which it acquired last year, dropping the "Fox" to make it Twentieth Century Studios, according to a Disney spokesman.
Disney also changed the name of Fox Searchlight Pictures, a sister studio traditionally known for lower-budget, artier films -- to simply Searchlight Pictures.
The change is already apparent in marketing materials for at least two coming films: Twentieth Century Studios' "The Call of the Wild," starring Harrison Ford, and Searchlight Pictures' "Downhill," with Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Television ads for both movies include Fox-free studio logos.
When Disney completed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's major entertainment assets last March, it added the two companies to its empire, making it the world's largest movie studio. For decades, both Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Searchlight ranked among Hollywood's premiere destinations for filmmakers.
One impetus for the change, according to a person familiar with the matter, was potential confusion that could arise over the word "Fox," since the 21st Century Fox assets Disney didn't acquire -- including the Fox broadcast network and Fox News -- are now part of a company called Fox Corp.
Disney didn't alter the names of Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment or Lucasfilm Ltd. after it acquired them.
The past year was a troubled period at the box office for Twentieth Century Fox, hampered in par t by layoffs and attrition in the company's marketing and publicity departments. The X-Men movie "Dark Phoenix" flopped while the well-reviewed science-fiction film "Ad Astra," starring Brad Pitt, failed to connect with audiences and delivered lackluster results.
Searchlight's "Jojo Rabbit" has garnered seven Oscar nominations, including one for best picture. Another best-picture nominee, "Ford v Ferrari," originally developed by Twentieth Century Fox, is nominated for four Academy Awards after grossing a robust $111.7 million domestically.
The Twentieth Century Fox name had been in use since 1935, after a merger between Fox Film Corp. and Twentieth Century Pictures. Fox Film was started by William Fox, an East Coast theater owner who initially treated movie production as an ancillary business. He built his first Los Angeles studio in 1916. Fox Searchlight was created in 1994.
The Disney-Fox deal also included television assets such as the FX cable network and National Geographic properties.
Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger's total compensation was valued at $47.5 million last year, down from $65.6 million the previous year, the company said in a filing late Friday.
The total included a small increase in base salary, while stock awards declined to $10.1 million from $35.4 million.
Disney had previously signaled Mr. Iger's compensation would decline for the most recent year. The prior year he received a rich bonus in part because he extended his employment contract.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 18, 2020 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)
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