Home / World News / The history of 21st Century Fox from ‘The Sound of Music’ to ‘Avatar’ – Los Angeles Times

The history of 21st Century Fox from ‘The Sound of Music’ to ‘Avatar’ – Los Angeles Times

Walt Disney Co. plans to acquire the film and TV studio and other assets of 21st Century Fox. If approved by regulators, the deal would create an entertainment powerhouse. Here is a look at the rich Hollywood history of the Fox studio.

Hungarian immigrant William Fox founds Fox Film Corp. in Fort Lee, N.J. Soon after, he moves the company to Southern California.

William Fox is injured in a car accident and loses most of his money in the stock market crash. The next year he is ousted as head of Fox Films.

Fox Films merges with 20th Century Pictures, which had been founded two years earlier by Darryl F. Zanuck, Joseph Schenck, Raymond Griffith and William Goetz. The new company becomes 20th Century Fox.

The company profits as its child star Shirley Temple reigns as the most popular movie performer for four consecutive years.

Shirley Temple
Child film star Shirley Temple appeared in more than 20 feature films. AFP/Getty Images

Under the leadership of Zanuck, the studio produces such films as 1941’s “How Green Was My Valley” and 1947’s “Gentleman’s Agreement,” both of which win the best picture Oscar.

With TV threatening the movie business, 20th Century Fox acquires the rights to the large-screen format Cinemascope and pays to have theaters equipped to play the large-format films. Zanuck exits as head of the company in 1956.

Big-budget films such as 1963’s “Cleopatra” threaten to bankrupt the company, but it rallies with hits including 1965’s Oscar-winner “The Sound of Music” and 1968’s “Planet of the Apes.”

Fox’s “Star Wars” is released and leaps to No. 1 in all-time box-office rankings.

Star Wars 1977
Mark Hamill, left, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in a scene from the 1977 film “Star Wars.” Associated Press

With revenue slumping, 20th Century Fox is bought by oil magnate Marvin H. Davis and commodities trader Marc Rich for $720 million.

Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch buys 20th Century Fox and makes it part of his company, News Corp. The same year, Murdoch acquires six big-city television stations as the basis for launching the Fox TV network, which airs such shows as “The Simpsons” and “Melrose Place.”

News Corp. launches Fox News Channel.

Fox and Paramount Pictures release “Titanic,” which shatters box-office records and wins the Oscar for best picture.

Titanic
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from Academy Award winning film “Titanic.” Associated Press

News Corp. buys Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co.

Fox releases James Cameron’s groundbreaking 3-D film “Avatar.”

The British tabloid paper News of the World, owned by News Corp., is closed after a scandal involving phone hacking.

News Corp. divides into two entities. One, 21st Century Fox, takes ownership of the TV networks and the 20th Century Fox movie studio. The other, News Corp., takes the newspaper and book business.

The company pays $20 million to settle a sexual harassment suit by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson against her ex-boss, Roger Ailes. Seven months later, Fox host Bill O’Reilly is fired after sexual harassment complaints.

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