Today at CinemaCon, Disney laid out the future of its recently acquired 20th Century Fox movie franchises, and gave assurances that there is a future for the Planet of the Apes and Alien movies – among others. Disney recently acquired Fox (minus a few TV networks) for $71 billion, and the merger has left many who follow the film industry anxious, not only about Disney’s growing dominance and the inevitable layoffs that will follow the deal, but also about the future of Fox’s franchises.
Disney has carefully crafted its image as a family-friendly studio, focusing on films that are suitable for all ages. By contrast, Fox has a plethora of franchises built around R-rated movies, like Deadpool, Alien, and Predator. It seemed unlikely that Disney would simply leave these properties to stagnate after spending so much money acquiring them, and Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn has previously said that Disney will use Fox as a way to make the kind of R-rated movies that it could never have made with a Disney label attached.
Horn used much of Disney’s CinemaCon panel as an opportunity to lay out Disney’s plans for Fox movies. Emma Watts, Vice Chair of 20th Century Fox Film, also spoke positively about what Fox can do with the “vast resources” of Disney at its disposal. She promised that Fox “will continue to create new stories,” and listed a number of franchises that the studio considers to still have life in them, including Alien, Planet of the Apes, Kingsman, and Maze Runner. While this probably doesn’t mean that Fox has Alien or Planet of the Apes movies in active development, it is a sign that the studio is interested in building upon those franchises in the near future.
Part of the presentation was a sizzle reel that blended footage from Disney and Fox movies, both past and upcoming, to highlight the biggest successes of both studios. Overall, the CinemaCon presentation gave a clearer picture of how Disney and Fox will operate going forward. While Disney may select certain properties to absorb into the family-friendly side of the business (specifically, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four eventually joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Fox will be maintained as a separate brand that’s able to produce R-rated films and other projects that don’t quite fit with Disney’s image.
The Alien movie franchise is currently on hold following the disappointing box office performance of Alien: Covenant, though there are rumors of Alien TV shows being in development for a streaming platform. Meanwhile, the recent Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy firmly wrapped up its story at the end of War for the Planet of the Apes, but there’s obviously potential for more stories to be told in that world – for example, the apes building their new world without humans to interfere.