In a further move to assert its brand dominance at all costs, Disney has removed “Fox” from its Fox-related movie studios. 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Studios will now be rebranded as “20th Century Studios” and “Searchlight Pictures.” Per Variety, the logos “won’t be dramatically altered, just updated. The most notable change is that the word “Fox” has been removed from the logo marks. Otherwise, the signature elements — swirling klieg lights, monolith, triumphal fanfare — will remain the same.” There’s no word yet on what will happen to the Fox name on the television side.
Perhaps this was inevitable with Disney’s acquisition, but it still stings. 20th Century Fox was formed after a merger between Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation in 1935. But that history was no match for Disney’s emphasis on branding and their feeling that the Fox-brand wasn’t conducive with their emphasis on family friendly fare. And to be fair, Fox was a studio that was willing to make movies for adults whereas Disney always outsourced that material to Touchstone Pictures or Miramax back in the day. Presumably, that adult material will now just go with 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures.
Nevertheless, it still feels like a bit of history has been lost, not because the Fox brand is “toxic” or because anyone ever avoided seeing Avatar or Die Hard because they dislike Fox News or Rupert Murdoch (who bought 20th Century Fox in the mid-80s). But Disney knows the importance of brand dominance, which means history just gets in the way. For Disney, it’s far better to erase the name “Fox” from history. While I doubt Disney will go so far as to alter the logo for older films, the death of Fox now feels complete, and now we’ll roll along to remaking its catalogue and occasionally using it to release the occasional R-rated movie. While the loss of the Fox name is obviously minor in comparison to all the employees who lost jobs and how the marketplace will be further affected by the loss of a major studio, the death of 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight stings for fans of film history.