20th Century Fox


20th Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Type Subsidiary
Industry Film
Founded May 31, 1935 (1935-05-31),[1] by merger of Fox Films (founded in 1914) and 20th Century Pictures, Inc. (founded in 1933)
Headquarters Fox Plaza, Century City, Los Angeles, California, United States
Key people Stephen Blairson, CEO
Products Motion pictures, television films
Owner(s) Independent (1914–1985)
News Corporation (1985-present)
Parent Fox Entertainment Group
Divisions 20th Century Fox Animation
Fox 2000 Pictures
Subsidiaries Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Atomic
Fox Interactive
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Fox Television Studios
Blue Sky Studios
20th Television/20th Century Fox Television
Fox Star Studios
Website www.foxmovies.com

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, with hyphen, from 1935 to 1985) — also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox — is one of the six major American film studios as of 2011. Located in the Century City area of Los Angeles, just west of Beverly Hills, the studio is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

The company was founded on May 31, 1935,[1] as the result of the merger of Fox Film Corporation, founded by William Fox in 1915, and Twentieth Century Pictures, founded in 1933 by Darryl F. Zanuck, Joseph Schenck, Raymond Griffith and William Goetz.

20th Century Fox's most popular film franchises include Avatar, Star Wars, Ice Age, Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks, X-Men, Die Hard, Alien, Speed, Revenge of the Nerds, Planet of the Apes, Home Alone, Dr. Dolittle, Night at the Museum, Predator, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and The Chronicles of Narnia (which was previously distributed by Walt Disney Pictures), The Beach, plus famous TV shows such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad!. Some of the most famous actors to come out of this studio were Shirley Temple, who was 20th Century Fox's first film star, Betty Grable, Gene Tierney, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. The studio also contracted the first African-American cinema star, Dorothy Dandridge.

(References to "Fox" below refer to William Fox or Fox Film Corporation until 1935 and shortly afterwards, and to Twentieth Century-Fox or Twentieth Century Fox afterwards.)

Their most commercially successful production partners in later years have been 1492 Pictures, Lucasfilm, Lightstorm Entertainment, Davis Entertainment, Walden Media, Regency Enterprises, Blue Sky Studios, Troublemaker Studios, Marvel Studios, Ingenious Film Partners, Scott Free Productions, Gracie Films, EuropaCorp, Color Force, Centropolis Entertainment, Conundrum Entertainment, Bad Hat Harry Productions, Red Hour Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures, Dune Entertainment, Chernin Entertainment, The Donners' Company, 21 Laps Entertainment and Spyglass Entertainment.

Contents

History

Fox Film Corporation

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 Jersey where it and many other early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based at the beginning of the 20th century.[2][3][4] In 1917, William Fox sent Sol M. Wurtzel to Hollywood to oversee the studio's West Coast production facilities where a more hospitable and cost-effective climate existed for filmmaking. Fox had purchased the Edendale studio of the failing Selig Polyscope Company, which had been making films in Los Angeles since 1909 and was the first motion picture studio in Los Angeles.

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 Department'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 he had lost most of his fortune in the fall, 1929 stock market crash, putting an end to the Loew's merger.

Overextended and close to bankruptcy, Fox was stripped of his empire and 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 the upstart but powerful independent 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 1933 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' board including UA's co-founder Mary Pickford's refusal to reward Twentieth Century with UA stock, fearing it would have diluted the value of holdings by another UA stockholder and co-founder, D.W. Griffith. 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 foundering 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 it was still much smaller than Fox, Twentieth Century was the senior partner in the merger. At first, it was expected that the new company would be called "Fox-Twentieth Century." However, 20th Century brought more to bargaining table besides Schenck and Zanuck, as it was profitable and had more talent than Fox. The new company was called The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, and 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.

For many years, 20th Century-Fox claimed to have been founded in 1915, the year Fox Film Corporation was founded. However, in recent years it has claimed the 1935 merger as its founding date, even though most film historians agree it was founded in 1915.

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, Linda Darnell, Carmen Miranda, Don Ameche, Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Sonja Henie, and Betty Grable. Also on the Fox payroll he found two players who he built up 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 overtook 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) starring Gene Tierney which was the highest-grossing Fox film of the 1940s. Fox also produced Broadway musicals, including the Rodgers and Hammerstein films, beginning with the musical version of State Fair in 1945, and continuing 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 and with the advent of television audiences drifted away, Twentieth Century-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 half the 1946 level, Twentieth Century-Fox gambled on an unproven gimmick. Noting that the two film sensations of 1952 had been Cinerama, which required three projectors to fill a giant curved screen, and "Natural Vision" 3D, 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 ground-breaking 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 (then known as Universal-International), Columbia Pictures and Disney quickly adopted the process. In 1956 Fox engaged Robert Lippert to establish a subsidiary company, Regal Pictures, later Associate Producers Incorporated to film B pictures in CinemaScope.

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 twenty years.

Production and financial problems

Zanuck's 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; she accepted, and costs for Cleopatra began to escalate, aggravated by Richard Burton's on-set romance with Taylor and surrounding media frenzy.

Meanwhile, another remake — 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 Marilyn Monroe, Fox's most bankable star of the 1950s with Dean Martin, and director (George Cukor). The troubled Monroe caused delays on a daily basis, and 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 City) to Alcoa in 1961 to raise cash. After several months of very little progress, Marilyn Monroe was fired from Something's Got to Give and two months later she was found dead, 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 account of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, with a huge international cast, 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 decided that something had to give and re-signed her. But days before filming was due to resume, she was found dead at her Los Angeles home and the unfinished scenes from Something's Got to Give were shelved 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, 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 mismanaging 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 1960s: Fantastic Voyage (which introduced Racquel Welch to film audiences) in 1966, and the original Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston, in 1968.

Zanuck stayed on as chairman until 1971 but there were several expensive flops in his last years, 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 Carothers 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 reached new heights and produced the most profitable film made up to that time, Star Wars.[5]

Rupert Murdoch

Fox Plaza, Century City headquarters, completed in 1987

With financial stability came new owners, and in 1978 control passed to the investors Marc Rich and Marvin Davis. By 1985, Rich had fled the U.S. after evading $100 million in U.S. income taxes, and Davis sold Rich's half of Fox to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.[6] Six months later Davis sold his half of Fox, giving News Corp 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 television network that was financed by advertising.

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 a US citizen. He did so in 1985 (the same year 20th Century-Fox dropped the hyphen from its name), and in 1986 the new Fox Broadcasting Company took to the air. Over the next 20-odd years the network and owned-stations group expanded to become extremely profitable for News Corp.

Since January 2000 this company has been the international distributor for MGM/UA releases, until as of 2005,when Turner Broadcasting System bought MGM 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 films 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. It was reported that Fox STAR would start by producing films for the Bollywood market, then expand to several Asian markets.[7]

Its future is in doubt due to the recent News Corporation scandal; however, it might be the least impacted of all of News Corporation's holdings.[8]

Television

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

During the mid-1950s features were released to television in hope that they would broaden sponsorship and help distribution of network programs. Blocks of one-hour programming of feature films to national sponsors on 128 stations was organized by Twentieth Century Fox and National Telefilm Associates. 20th Century Fox received 50 percent interest in NTA Film network after it sold its library to National Telefilm Associates. This gave ninety minutes of cleared time a week and syndicated feature films to 110 non-interconnected stations for sale to national sponsors.[9]

Music

Fox Music is Fox's music arm since 2000. It encompasses music publishing and licensing businesses, dealing primarily with Fox Entertainment Group television and film soundtracks.

Prior to Fox Music, 20th Century Records was its music arm from 1958 to 1982.

Logo and fanfare

20th Century Fox logo used from 1953 to 1987 created for the new CinemaScope process with the slanted "0"

The Art Deco 20th Century Fox logo, designed by 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. Over the years the logo was modified several times.[10]

20th Century Fox CGI logo used from 1994 to 2010; still used on 20th Century Fox websites.

In 1953, Rocky Longo, an artist at Pacific Title, was hired to recreate the original design for the new CinemaScope process. In order to give the design the required "width", Longo tilted the "0" in 20th. In 1981, after Longo repainted the eight-layered glass panels (and straightened the "0"), his revised logo became the official trademark. (The 1953 logo, however, would be used in tandem with the newer logo until 1987.)

In 1994, after a few 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 new logo for the company — this time using the new process of computer-generated imagery (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 Cityscape to be designed around the monument. In the background can be seen the Hollywood sign, which would give the monument an actual location (approximating Fox's actual address in Century City). 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.

In 2009, a newly updated CGI logo, done by Blue Sky Studios, debuted in the film Avatar. A 75th Anniversary version of this new logo was used to coincide with 20th Century Fox's 75th anniversary; it made its official debut with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and last appeared in Gulliver's Travels.[11]

The Fox fanfare was originally composed in 1933 by Alfred Newman, who became head of Twentieth Century-Fox's music department from 1940 until the 1960s. It was re-recorded in 1935 when 20th Century Fox was officially established.

In 1953 an extended version was created for CinemaScope films, first used on the film How to Marry a Millionaire, released in the 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.

As television grew as a medium, the practice of placing production logos at the end of programs became commonplace. For Fox's television arm, a truncated version of the Newman fanfare has been used with a brief shot of the Fox logo. Syndicated programs would overlay "Television" over "Century" in an animation, resulting in the logo reading "20th Television Fox". Today, CGI logos are used, with 20th Century Fox Television primarily for Fox network programming, and 20th Television for other programming (such as cable and syndication).

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 (B major) 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. Since the introduction of the CGI Fox logo, Star Wars theatrical releases (beginning with the Special Editions of the original trilogy in 1997) have used a static angle version of the new logo, to allow for the animated Lucasfilm logo to appear during the extension.

The Fox fanfare was re-orchestrated in 1981, as Longo's revised logo was being introduced.

As the CGI logo was being prepared to premiere at the beginning of James Cameron's True Lies (1994), Burns asked composer Bruce Broughton for a new version of the familiar fanfare. In 1997 Alfred's son, composer David Newman, recorded the new version of the fanfare in Anastasia (1997). This rendition is still in use as of 2010.

Parodies of the fanfare have appeared at the start of the films The Cannonball Run (cars drive around the logo and knock out the searchlights), 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 searchlights go out as a result of a power outage), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (featuring a 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 of the type Homer eats), Daredevil (the picture morphs into a negative image of the logo- as if perceived by the main character's radar sense), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (with snow and volcanoes covering the logo, but the regular 20th Century Fox logo was shown on the film's DVD and Blu-rays release instead) and Minority Report (where the logo, alongside its DreamWorks counterpart, appears immersed in water, similar to the film's "precog" characters). A variant appears on most of the 2010 films, in which a 75 forms from lights, in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the merger, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the logo will become dark).

In the X-Men films of the 2000s, the "X" in "Fox" remains ghosted on the screen as the scene fades out. In Moulin Rouge! the logo appears on a stage behind a red curtain with a conductor directing an orchestra playing the fanfare. In the 2003 production of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the logo appears as a huge unlit monument dominating the nighttime London skyline. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the studio placed a cartoon version of the 20th Century Fox structure on the main studio logo.

At the end of Fox's Futurama, set in the 30th and 31st centuries, the logo is shown with the words "30th Century Fox".

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 film.

Also on The Simpsons: Season 10 DVD, each disc's opening shows Bart Simpson running around the logo while being chased by the squeaky-voiced teenager.

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

The Fox fanfare was sampled for the remix of rapper Busta Rhymes's song, "Stop The Party", after Ghostface Killah's verse.

20th Century Fox franchises

This is a list of franchises by 20th Century Fox.

See also

List of 20th Century Fox films

References

Bibliography

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

External links


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