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Disney CEO Bob Iger Has No Plans to Change Fox Searchlight After Purchase

Written By: Nick Poulimenakos

In what should come as a major sigh of relief for movie fans, Disney CEO and Board Chairman Bob Iger announced today that here are no plans to rebrand or change the business operations of Fox Searchlight if and when Disney’s bid for 21st Century Fox assets receives regulatory approval. The statement came during Disney’s Annual Meeting in Houston.

Fox Searchlight, the specialty film label formerly owned by 21st Century Fox, this year had 20 Academy Award nominations for two films, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri which took home Best Actress for Frances McDormand and The Shape of Water the latter of which won best picture and best director on Sunday.

The studio is known for its independent, off-beat, often R-rated movies that many speculated would conflict with Disney’s family-friendly brand.

Iger maintained that should the purchase go through, Fox Searchlight would continue on with business as usual:

“We have every intention once the acquisition is approved to maintain the business of Fox Searchlight. We think they’re in the business of making high quality films.”

Iger, who was in attendence for the 90th Academy Awards, spoke about how Disney did not have any films nominated for best picture and so, “it was easy to root for Fox Searchlight.”

He then added during the meeting:

“We don’t have any plans right now to change what they do. Frankly, we think they’re doing just fine.”

It looks like for now, Disney is in fact planning to use Fox Searchlight for its adult-centric films, something we discussed in our pros and cons list of Disney buying Fox. 

The meeting then turned to the recent success of Black Panther, where Iger discussed the impact of the film:

“The real impact of this movie reaches far beyond the theater. It has created an authentic cultural moment that is sparking reflecting, driving conversation, inspiring young minds and touching hearts of all ages.”

The annual shareholders meeting comes on the heels of Disney making big moves to stay ahead of digital competitors like Netflix and Amazon. The purchase of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets is intended to build its library ahead of the launch of a streaming platform that is direct-to-consumer and will launch next year. An ESPN streaming app will be unveiled later this spring for $4.99 a month.

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