Our Corporate History
The company was founded in 1904 in New York City by William Fox, a 25 year-old Jewish Hungarian immigrant, who sold his cloth processing business and with the profits earned bought a lowly "common show." At that time, "common show" was the legal phrase for the exhibition of motion pictures in a store remodeled for that purpose and containing fewer than 299 seats. These primitive movie theaters charged five cents admission and therefore became known as "nickelodeons."
Mr. Fox, a born showman, bolstered attendance by hiring a magician to perform in front of his store to attract customers. His growing number of patrons sat closely together on folding chairs (which were rented from a neighbourhood undertaker's parlour) and enjoyed simple short films. These early movie audiences viewed films that were hand-cranked through a lighted box which caused images to be magnified and projected against a white wall at the opposite end of the store.
Along with partners B.S. Moss and Sol Brill, William Fox was able to plough profits from this first "common show" into a second and third, until the new exhibition firm of Fox, Moss and Sol Brill had 25 such establishments.
As a next logical step, Mr. Fox and partners opened a film exchange - -one of the first in the nation. Named the Greater New York Film Rental Company, it provided their Nickelodeons with new movies and offered an ideal opportunity to trade films with other exhibitors and exchanges. By 1913, the rapid growth of the exhibition industry made it almost impossible to obtain new films. Mr. Fox quickly organized the Box Office Attraction Company and began producing movies of his own.
Two years later, along with other motion picture pioneers such as Adolph Zukor (Paramount) and Carl Laemmle (Universal), Mr. Fox decided the temperate climate of California would more easily facilitate year-round productions. He moved his producing operations west and founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915. Mr. Fox's business associate at the time was Winfield R. Sheehan, whom he named Vice President and General Manager of the new company.
Headquartered at the old Selig Studio in the Edendale area of Southern California, Fox Film Corporation combined movie production, exhibition and distribution in one company. Mr. Sheehan opened additional film exchanges in a dozen principal cities throughout the country in order to increase the scope and volume of Fox's thriving venture.
The motion picture industry continued to prosper and production activity soon became too big for even the large Edendale facility. In consequence, Mr. Fox purchased the Thomas Dixon Studio in 1917, a property five and one-half acres in size, located at the intersection of Western Avenue and Sunset Boulevard on the west side of Hollywood.
Even though new stages and workshops were built, production continued to grow to such an extent that even more space was needed. Mr. Fox bought eight additional acres immediately across Western Avenue (total realty investment for the 13-1/2 acres was $215,000 and as early as 1934, the property value skyrocketed to $2.5 million).
Public demand for a greater number of more improved moving pictures (or "movies") grew at an alarming rate. The public began to find a fascination with movie "stars." Since Florence Lawrence had reached fame as "The Biograph Girl" in the 1910s, movie audiences started attending films just to see the latest exploits of their favourite performers.
William Fox had been one of the first producers to recognize this trend. In 1915, he spotted a beautiful actress working as an extra in one of his films, gave her a new name and a fabricated, exotic background and thus made a star out of Theodosia Goodman, otherwise known as Theda Bara.
Another of Mr. Fox's discoveries was a former rodeo rider whose first job with the company had been as a horse trainer. By 1918, however, Tom Mix was well on his way to becoming one of the most popular cowboy stars ever.
The year 1925 saw Fox again faced with the need to expand its production facilities. The most pressing requirement for the studio was to get a large, open area to use as a "location" for the successful Tom Mix westerns. Mr. Fox was fortunate enough to secure 250 acres of land in the Beverly Hills area, situated between two golf courses and far from any high-rise office or housing developments. This provided the ideal locale for the "permanent" outdoor sets of the Movie Company and the construction of much-needed film stages and offices. It is this lot that today serves as home to Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
The advent of sound in motion pictures in 1927 turned the movie industry topsy-turvy. Fox's success with the Movietone process for recording sound on film prompted the company to enter into a series of reorganizations and financial deals. In 1929, Fox Films surprised both Hollywood and Wall Street by purchasing 55 percent of Loew's, Inc., the parent company of rival MGM, for approximately $55 million (The Company's ownership of Loew's was later dissolved by order of the US Government, and various banking interests acquired control of Loew's stock).
During this corporate shake-up in 1930, William Fox was ousted from his namesake company by a consortium of major stockholders, never to be a part of Fox Film again.
A new chief at Fox was sought. Sidney R. Kent joined the company as Executive Vice President on April 1, 1932, and two weeks later became the company's President, continuing in that capacity until his death in 1942.
In 1935, Fox Film Corporation merged with a thriving producing organization, Twentieth Century Pictures, headed by Joseph M. Schenck, and the company assumed its present name--Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. The merger made Mr. Schenck Chairman of the Board and brought Darryl F. Zanuck into the company as Vice President in charge of production of the company.
Mr. Zanuck, then age 31, was paid $250,000 annually for his services--an enormous sum at the time--and he proved well worth it. In 20 years as head of production for Twentieth Century Fox, he was responsible for creating the type of high-quality films which won over 150 Oscars for the studio.
When Sidney Kent died in 1942, his post as President of Fox was assumed by Spyros P. Skouras, a leading theatre operator. Almost immediately, an undercurrent of friction existed between Mr. Skouras and Mr. Zanuck.
Finally, the struggle between the two executives resulted in Mr. Zanuck's decision to leave Fox in 1956 to become and independent producer.
Following his exit, Fox went into a period of decline. The demand for Cinema cope, the Oscar-winning widescreen film process developed and patented by Fox in 1953, was waning by 1956, and no new innovations, techniques, or gimmicks were waiting in the wings to pique the public's interest. To complicate matters, the growing popularity of television kept many potential moviegoers home, away from the theatres.
A succession of production chiefs failed to combine the skills of money manager and creative developer as Mr. Zanuck. Fox's greatest disaster of all was the ill-fated production of CLEOPATRA, which consumed over four years and an unprecedented $40 million! On the brink of bankruptcy, the company was forced to sell some choice West Los Angeles land on which today stands Century City.
Another change necessitated by Fox's financial straits was the reinstatement of Mr. Zanuck, this time as President of the company under Chairman of the Board, Spyros Skouras. Mr. Zanuck brought with him his son Richard, as Executive Vice President in charge of Worldwide Production.
The senior Zanuck's first actions as President were to shut down the disastrous production of CLEOPATRA, close the studio itself, and keep the doors shut long enough to review all works in progress and assess their viability. CLEOPATRA received personal editorial supervision form Mr. Zanuck, which resulted in a very entertaining film when the studio "re-opened" in 1963.
Within a short period of time, the Zanucks turned an ailing company's image to one of leadership and prestige in the entertainment field. In 1969, Darryl F. Zanuck was named Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and Richard was appointed President.
The influence of the Zanucks on Fox still remains. When they both resigned their corporate posts in 1971, Darryl was named Chairman Emeritus--the first ever for Fox. Richard later returned to the studio years later with partner David Brown as an independent producer, delivering Fox many films including the critically acclaimed box office hits THE VERDICT and COCOON.
Dennis Stanfill served as Chairman of the Board of Fox from Zanuck's retirement in 1971 to 1981. Mr. Stanfill presided over the transition of Fox from a publicly traded corporation to a privately held company in early 1981, when independent Denver oilman Marvin Davis purchased the studio.
Following Mr. Stanfill's departure, Alan J. Hirschfield was named Chairman of the Board, and served until September 1984.
Under Mr. Hirschfield's administration, Twentieth Century Fox had significant achievements in all divisions. Hit films such as ROMANCING THE STONE, PORKY'S and TAPS were released and RETURN OF THE JEDI broke box office records through the world.
Barry Diller joined Fox as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in October 1984. In March 1985, through The News Corporation, Limited, Rupert Murdoch purchased 50% of the TCF Holdings, Inc. from Mr. Davis. In September of that year, Mr. Murdoch acquired the remaining 50% of Fox from Mr. Davis.
In October 1985, Fox Inc. was formed in a major restructuring of the entertainment and broadcasting interests of News America and TCF Holdings. Fox Inc. is a consolidation of those interests and consists of three principal operating units:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Television Stations Inc. and Fox Broadcasting Company.
Fox Television Stations Inc. was formed in March 1986 with the purchase of six independent television stations from Metromedia, Inc. in the cities of New York (WNYW), Los Angeles (KTTV), Chicago (WFLD), Dallas (KDAF), Washington D.C. (WTTG) and Houston (KRIV).
Fox Broadcasting Company was launched in May 1986 as a satellite delivered national program service for independent stations, offering network quality, original programming for prime time and late night time periods. In October of that year, FBC went on the air with its first program, "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers."
William Mechanic was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed entertainment in December of 1996. His remit included all operations of the studio including world-wide feature film production, marketing and distribution activities, as well as all worldwide operations for Fox Videos, Fox Interactive, Licensing and Merchandising and Fox Music. During 1997 Fox released ‘Titanic’ which went on to beat all box-office records.
Along with the impressive performance of the 20th Century Fox production division, the company has established Fox 2000, a mini-studio focusing on general entertainment and Fox Searchlight Pictures, which produces specialized films aimed at sophisticated adult audiences.
In November 1998 Fox Entertainment Group Inc, issued an initial public offering through the issuance and sale of 124, 800, 000 shares of class A Common Sock. The newly issued shares of class A Common Stock represent approximately 18.6% of the Company’s outstanding common stock.
In June 2000, Mechanic left the company and was succeeded by Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman as joint Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. This Chairmanship still exists to date. In 2005 Fox Filmed Entertainment removed it’s listing from the Australian stock exchange and moved this to the NY stock exchange.
Following on are some of Fox’s more recent achievements in film and television, technology and reality concepts.
January 2001 saw National Geographic TV and Film, and the Fox Network launch the National Geographic Channel. The National Geographic Channel connects its viewers to the pulse of the planet, covering science, culture, natural history, and adventure. NGC U.S. is one of the fastest growing cable networks in US history, reaching over 50M homes in just over 3 years. Globally, National Geographic Channels can be seen in 147 countries, in 25 languages.
In February 2002, the News Corp.-owned Speedvision was relaunched as the SPEED Channel. SPEED is the premiere motorsports and auto enthusiast network, providing coverage of virtually every major motor sports series.
On June 11th 2002, season one of American Idol, the reality based, televised singing competition, was aired. American Idol continues to soar and it is now into its seventh season.
Television continued to grow at Fox, with Fuel network launching on July 1st, 2003. FUEL TV, the only network of its kind, is dedicated to featuring competitive and non competitive action sports, such as skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, BMX and freestyle motocross.
In 2005 Fox Interactive Media (FIM) was formed to oversee News Corporation's new media acquisitions, FIM is a portfolio of leading social networking, entertainment, sports and information sites that offer a platform and tools for consumers to express themselves, communicate with each other, and engage with media. The company's worldwide network includes such category leaders as MySpace, Photobucket, IGN, FOXSports.com, RottenTomatoes, AskMen, Flektor and more that together comprise one of the largest audiences on the Web.
May 24th of the same year saw the launch of the Fox Reality Channel. The channel features reality shows syndicated from other networks (like ABC , CBS , NBC , The CW and MyNetworkTV ), as well as many international shows from the United Kingdom , Australia , and New Zealand . Fox Reality.com takes the reality experience even further by offering unseen footage, games, polls and glimpses of the reality behind reality programming.
On the back of the success of various other interactive and reality based concepts, in July 2005, News Corporation bought MySpace for $580 million. MySpace is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos for teenagers and adults internationally.
In 2006 Fox Atomic was created. Atomic produces and markets theatrical movies and digital content targeting the 17 – 24 year old demographic across all media platforms. Users are also given access to entertainment content and encouraged to make, remix and share their own creations.
The ever popular Simpsons franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary and aired its 300th episode in 2007. The much anticipated Simpsons Movie was also released that same year. The Simpsons is the longest running animated TV series, beginning in 1989 and still running today.
In March 2007, News Corp. announced the formation of a joint venture with NBCU to distribute online video. “ Hulu” as the venture has been named, is an online video on demand service and video sharing platform that offers a continuously increasing array of exclusive, premium-quality TV shows and movies from the NBC and FOX networks, as well as from their numerous cable networks. It is designed to be "a single source of free, on-demand programming from some of the most popular studios and online networks, helping viewers quickly and easily find and enjoy the premium content they are looking for. The TV shows are available for user-controlled viewing anytime, as well as for sharing or editing (a feature known as “clipping”). Shows that get the most traffic on the site include The Simpsons , Arrested Development , and Family Guy .
On December 4th 2007- Fox Entertainment Group acquired Beliefnet, the largest online faith and spirituality network. Beliefnet is a large multi-faith e-community that aims to provide a free forum for religious information and inspiration, spiritual tools, and discussions and dialogue groups.
In June 2008, TCFHE swept the board at the HEW Awards by winning ‘Retail Distributor of the Year’, ‘Rental Distributor of the Year’ and ‘Overall Distributor of the Year’. Home Entertainment also won a Marketing Award for ‘Best Film Marketing (Blockbuster)’ for The Simpsons Movie.