What’s in a name? You’d think one with decades’ worth of history and a founding role in the movie business would mean something, but Disney disagrees. The House of Mouse is dropping “Fox” from the biggest assets it acquired when it bought out 21st Century Fox last year. The company will rename the 20th Century Fox film studio to 20th Century Studios, and Fox Searchlight Pictures will now be known simply as Searchlight Pictures. For now, Fox’s TV production companies, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, will continue, though discussions are underway about a name change there as well.
The change is pretty predictable but still a bit shocking. 20th Century Fox is one of Hollywood’s biggest and most iconic studios, the name being associated with classic films throughout cinematic history. Disney, however, doesn’t especially want to be connected to the Fox brand anymore as the name is now more associated with the Fox News Channel than any film or TV production. Disney did not acquire the news network in the deal, so that political landmine is something the company would be happy to avoid as best it can, especially after the multiple sexual scandals that rocked the cable news network recently. Not exactly family-friendly.
Still, the film brand is legendary and carries its own cache, so Disney isn’t moving too far away from it. The massive media corporation wants to keep the brand alive so it can handle more adult-oriented content and continue franchises like Avatar under the same company. To that end, the iconic 20th Century Fox logo — blaring theme music and spotlights galore — will be kept, just without the F word on it. Searchlight Pictures’ logo, though less iconic, will be kept much the same as well. You’ll be able to catch it for the first time before the upcoming Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell film Downhill, and the new 20th Century logo will debut before Call of the Wild. For most folks, the difference probably won’t even be noticed.