The recent delays of several key titles on 20th Century Fox’s film release slate are looking to be due to more than just regular in-house film shuffling – they’re clearing the decks ahead of the arrival of their new owners.
THR reports that the recent shuffle of a handful of titles, including the four-month delay of the Brad Pitt-led “Ad Astra” and the nearly year-long delay of Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile,” are all seemingly in anticipation of the $70 billion+ deal involving Disney and Fox.
Officially, federal regulations prohibit Disney and Fox film executives from directly coordinating their film release efforts during the merger process. However, providing there are no last minute hiccups, Disney will soon begin releasing 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight and Fox 2000 titles – and expanding its already dominant market share.
Disney only released eight films last year, whereas Fox released fourteen. The latter’s output has already begun winding down but it’s not yet clear how many films from the various Fox brands Disney will release theatrically going forward beyond sure bets like the new “Avatar” and “Kingsman” sequels along with “X-Men” and “Deadpool” properties which will be output via Marvel Studios.
Disney announced the other day that the individual chiefs at the three studios – Emma Watts, Elizabeth Gabler, Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley, will retain their same titles and it’s expected Disney will NOT take over marketing and distributing Fox films until after “Alita: Battle Angel” opens in February next year, meaning “Ad Astra” in late May or “Dark Phoenix” in early June could well be the first Fox films to be released by Disney.
Fox has those three aforementioned films plus “The Kid Who Would Be King,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Stuber,” “The New Mutants,” “Spies in Disguise,” “The Woman in the Window,” “Underwater” and “The Call of the Wild” on their slate for 2019.
Disney has only eight films dated for 2019 so far – “Captain Marvel” (March 8), “Dumbo” (March 29), “Avengers 4″ (May 3),” Aladdin” (May 24), “Toy Story 4” (June 21), “The Lion King” (July 19), “Frozen 2” (Nov 27) and “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec 20).