Disney’s massive merger with Fox last March brought 21st Century Fox’s vast entertainment library under the Disney umbrella, but now, in a symbolic move, Disney has begun the process of phasing out the Fox name. As reported by Variety, the Walt Disney Company is dropping the Fox brand from the names of the 20th Century Fox film studio and Fox Searchlight Pictures, renaming them as 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures, respectively.
As of now, no decisions have been made on the TV side, with 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios currently retaining their names. Discussions about changing the names are apparently underway, but there is no consensus yet.
According to the Variety report, some insiders believe the move is designed to distance Disney from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns and operates Fox News, as well as many local news channels in the U.S. Fox News is the most-watched news network in America but it has developed a reputation for blatant conservative partisanship. In the digital age, anything political can be dicey, even for enormous corporations like Disney, and the Fox brand has long seemed interchangeable with Fox News.
Additionally, by the time of Disney’s acquisition, the network was embroiled in a number of sexual misconduct scandals that were the the subject of teh 2019 film, Bombshell. Put simply, the Fox brand has grown to be a controversial one that Disney’s meticulously family-friendly brand doesn’t want to risk being associated with.
To some, the change appeared to be inevitable. Fox News is an enormous entity with a prominent place in American culture that most Americans, naturally, presume to be related to 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight. Until recently, they weren’t wrong about making the association.
The name change has already been put into effect at both companies as email addresses have been changed for staffers at Searchlight and the opening credits for Searchlight’s next film, Downhill, have been edited to begin with “Searchlight Pictures Presents.” That film will be the first to debut with a new logo, although a confusingly significant logo change is not expected.
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