Our Corporate History
A Dream Is Born
20th Century Fox’s story begins in a tiny theater on New York’s Lower East Side. In 1904, fresh from Hungary, 25-year-old William Fox amazed audiences with his magical hand-cranked films. The beginnings were humble – folding chairs, a painted wall for a screen -- but the desire to entertain and move people has been at the core of what 20th Century Fox has been doing ever since. By 1915 Fox’s five-cent movie shows were wildly popular and his single screen grew first into a chain of 25 theaters around New York City and then into a movie making business.
Fox left New York in 1915 for the sunny skies of Los Angeles. There he discovered and shaped the screen’s first movie stars including the cowboy Tom Mix, the movies first sex symbol, Theda Bara, and boxing champ turned actor George O’Brien. Fox was attuned to the latest trends and technologies of the industry, pioneering the use of sound with the development of the Movietone sound system. Merging with rising movie powerhouse Twentieth Century Pictures, founded in 1933 by Darryl F. Zanuck and Joseph M. Schenck, the renamed 20th Century Fox began an unprecedented run of unforgettable movies that continue to this day.
Creating moments that enter the collective imagination is built on crafting great stories, creating indelible characters, and continuing to push the boundaries of film making with technological advances. From our first Cinemascope production The Robe in 1953, which electrified audiences and changed the way movies were shot and shown, to Avatar, the highest-grossing picture of all time, whose use of motion capture and reimagined 3-D are regarded as modern breakthroughs in cinematic technology, Fox has never stopped exploring what movies could be.
When the world wanted to bury the movie musical, Fox gave it the Academy Award winning Sound of Music, considered by many to be the best musical of all time. Fox showed the world a new vision of Science Fiction with Star Wars and ushered in the modern action hero with the Die Hard series. Comedies like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire became instant classics and brought whole families back to the theater to enjoy watching movies together.
Movies That Matter
Drawing inspiration from real life, 20th Century Fox reimagined the biopic with films like Patton and Braveheart and captured the epic romance and tragedy of Titanic. From the gritty streets of 1970s New York in The French Connection to the candy-colored streets of Mumbai in Slumdog Millionaire, 20th Century Fox never shied away from exploring the human condition -- or the mutant condition, as the X-Men series continues to show. When we’re not drawing inspiration from real life, we bring to the screen beloved works of literature, like Life of Pi and The Fault In Our Stars.
As the digital revolution reshapes all aspects of the entertainment industry, 20th Century Fox remains on the forefront, embracing new technologies that take our audience deeper into our films. From thrilling animated features to visual effects that make our superheroes leap and fly of the screen, our mission is the same as it was over a century ago, give people the simple pleasure of being transported by a story on a screen.