|Fate||Merged with Twentieth Century Pictures to form 20th Century-Fox|
|Successor|| 20th Century-Fox |
(later 20th Century Studios in 2020 for the Film Studios)
Fox Broadcasting Company in 1986
(Fox Entertainment/Fox Corporation in 2019 for the Fox name)
|Founded||February 1, 1915 in Fort Lee, New Jersey|
|Defunct||May 31, 1935|
The Fox Film Corporation was an American company that produced motion pictures, formed by William Fox on February 1, 1915. It was the corporate successor to his earlier Greater New York Film Rental Company and Box Office Attractions Film Company.
The company's first film studios were set up in Fort Lee, New Jersey, but in 1917, William Fox sent Sol M. Wurtzel to Hollywood, California to oversee the studio's new West Coast production facilities, where the climate was more hospitable for filmmaking. On July 23, 1926, the company bought the patents of the Movietone sound system for recording sound onto film.
After the Wall Street crash of 1929, William Fox lost control of the company in 1930, during a hostile takeover. Under new president Sidney Kent, the new owners merged the company with Twentieth Century Pictures to form 20th Century-Fox in 1935.
William Fox entered the film industry in 1904 when he purchased a one-third share of a Brooklyn nickelodeon for $1,667.He reinvested his profits from that initial location, expanding to fifteen similar venues in the city, and purchasing prints from the major studios of the time: Biograph, Essanay, Kalem, Lubin, Pathé, Selig, and Vitagraph. After experiencing further success presenting live vaudeville routines along with motion pictures, he expanded into larger venues beginning with his purchase of the disused Gaiety theater, and continuing with acquisitions throughout New York City and New Jersey, including the Academy of Music.
Fox invested further in the film industry by founding the Greater New York Film Rental Company as a film distributor.The major film studios responded by forming the Motion Picture Patents Company in 1908 and the General Film Company in 1910, in an effort to create a monopoly on the creation and distribution of motion pictures. Fox refused to sell out to the monopoly, and sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act, eventually receiving a $370,000 settlement, and ending restrictions on the length of films and the prices that could be paid for screenplays.
In 1914, reflecting the broader scope of his business, he renamed it the Box Office Attraction Film Rental Company.He entered into a contract with the Balboa Amusement Producing Company film studio, purchasing all of their films for showing in his New York area theaters and renting the prints to other exhibitors nationwide. He also continued to distribute material from other sources, such as Winsor McCay's early animated film Gertie the Dinosaur . Later that year, Fox concluded that it was unwise to be so dependent on other companies, so he purchased the Éclair studio facilities in Fort Lee, New Jersey, along with property in Staten Island, and arranged for actors and crew. The company became a film studio, with its name shortened to the Box Office Attractions Company; its first release was Life's Shop Window .
Always more of an entrepreneur than a showman, Fox concentrated on acquiring and building theaters; pictures were secondary. The company's first film studios were set up in Fort Lee, New Jersey where it and many other early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1914, Fox Film began making motion pictures in California, and in 1915 decided to build its own permanent studio. The company leased the Edendale studio of the Selig Polyscope Company until its own studio, located at Western Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, was completed in 1916.In 1917, William Fox sent Sol M. Wurtzel to Hollywood to oversee the studio's West Coast production facilities where a more hospitable and cost-effective climate existed for filmmaking.
With the introduction of sound technology, Fox moved to acquire the rights to a sound-on-film process. In the years 1925–26, Fox purchased the rights to the work of Freeman Harrison Owens, the U.S. rights to the Tri-Ergon system invented by three German inventors, and the work of Theodore Case. This resulted in the Movietone sound system later known as "Fox Movietone" developed at the Movietone Studio. Later that year, the company began offering films with a music-and-effects track, and the following year Fox began the weekly Fox Movietone News feature, that ran until 1963. The growing company needed space, and in 1926 Fox acquired 300 acres (1.2 km2) in the open country west of Beverly Hills and built "Movietone City", the best-equipped studio of its time.
When rival Marcus Loew died in 1927, Fox offered to buy the Loew family's holdings. Loew's Inc. controlled more than 200 theaters, as well as the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio. The Loew family agreed to the sale, and the merger of Fox and Loew's Inc. was announced in 1929; MGM studio bosses Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg were not included in the deal, and fought back. Using powerful political connections, Mayer called upon the Justice Department's antitrust unit to delay giving final approval to the merger. William Fox was badly injured in a car crash in the summer of 1929, and by the time he recovered, he had lost most of his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929, ending any chance of the Fox/Loew's merger being approved, even without the Justice Department's objections.
Overextended and close to bankruptcy, Fox was stripped of his empire in 1930and later ended up in jail on bribery and perjury charges. Fox Film, with more than 500 theatres, was placed in receivership. A bank-mandated reorganization propped the company up for a time, but it soon became apparent that despite its size, Fox could not stand on its own. William Fox resented the way he was forced out of his company and portrayed it as an active conspiracy against him in the 1933 book Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox .
Under new president Sidney Kent, the new owners began negotiating with the upstart, but powerful independent Twentieth Century Pictures in the early spring of 1935. The two companies merged that spring as 20th Century Fox. For many years, 20th Century-Fox claimed to have been founded in 1915. For instance, it marked 1945 as its 30th anniversary. However, in recent years it has claimed the 1935 merger as its founding, even though most film historians agree it was founded in 1915.
A 1937 fire in a Fox film storage facility destroyed over 40,000 reels of negatives and prints, including the best-quality copies of every Fox feature produced prior to 1932;although copies located elsewhere allowed many to survive in some form, over 75% of Fox's feature films from before 1930 are completely lost.
In 1919, Fox began a series of silent newsreels, competing with existing series such as Hearst Metrotone News , International Newsreel , and Pathé News . Fox News premiered on October 11, 1919, with subsequent issues released on the Wednesday and Sunday of each week. Fox News gained an advantage over its more established competitors when President Woodrow Wilson endorsed the newsreel in a letter, in what may have been the first time an American president commented on a film.In subsequent years, Fox News remained one of the major names in the newsreel industry by providing often-exclusive coverage of major international events, including reporting on Pancho Villa, the airship Roma , the Ku Klux Klan, and a 1922 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The silent newsreel series continued until 1930.
In 1926, a subsidiary, Fox Movietone Corporation, was created, tasked with producing newsreels using Fox's recently acquired sound-on-film technology. The first of these newsreels debuted on January 21, 1927. Four months later, the May 25 release of a sound recording of Charles Lindbergh's departure on his transatlantic flight was described by film historian Raymond Fielding as the "first sound news film of consequence".Movietone News was launched as a regular newsreel feature December 3 of that year. Production of the series continued after the merger with Twentieth Century Pictures, until 1963, and continued to serve 20th Century Fox after that, as a source for film industry stock footage.
Unlike Fox's early feature films, the Fox News and Fox Movietone News libraries have largely survived. The earlier series and some parts of its sound successor are now held by the University of South Carolina, with the remaining Fox Movietone News still held by the company.
Fox Film briefly experimented with serial films, releasing the 15-episode Bride 13 and the 20-episode Fantômas in 1920. William Fox was unwilling to compromise on production quality in order to make serials profitable, however, and none were produced subsequently.
Hundreds of one- and two-reel short films of various types were also produced by Fox. Beginning in 1916,the Sunshine Comedy division created two-reel comedy shorts. Many of these, beginning with 1917's Roaring Lions and Wedding Bliss , starring Lloyd Hamilton, were slapstick, intended to compete with Mack Sennett's popular offerings. Sunshine releases continued until the introduction of sound. Other short film series included Imperial Comedies, Van Bibber Comedies (with Earle Foxe), O'Henry, Married Life of Helen and Warren, and Fox Varieties. Fox's expansion into Spanish-language films in the early 1930s also included shorts.
7th Heaven is a 1927 American silent romantic drama directed by Frank Borzage, and starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. The film is based upon the 1922 play Seventh Heaven, by Austin Strong and was adapted for the screen by Benjamin Glazer. 7th Heaven was initially released as a standard silent film in May 1927. On September 10, 1927, Fox Film Corporation re-released the film with a synchronized Movietone soundtrack with a musical score and sound effects.
20th Century Studios, Inc. is an American film studio that is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The studio is located on the Fox Studio Lot in the Century City area of Los Angeles. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures distributes and markets the films produced by 20th Century Studios.
Universal Pictures is an American film studio owned by Comcast through the NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment division of its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal.
A newsreel is a form of short documentary film, containing news stories and items of topical interest, that was prevalent between the 1910s and the mid 1970s. Typically presented in a cinema, newsreels were a source of current affairs, information, and entertainment for millions of moviegoers. Newsreels were typically exhibited preceding a feature film, but there were also dedicated newsreel theaters in many major cities in the 1930s and ’40s, and some large city cinemas also included a smaller theaterette where newsreels were screened continuously throughout the day.
Major film studios are production and distribution companies that release a substantial number of films annually and consistently command a significant share of box office revenue in a given market. In the American and international markets, the major film studios, often simply known as the majors, are commonly regarded as the five diversified media conglomerates whose various film production and distribution subsidiaries collectively command approximately 80–85% of U.S. box office revenue. The term may also be applied more specifically to the primary motion picture business subsidiary of each respective conglomerate.
The cinema of the United States has had a large effect on the film industry in general since the early 20th century. The dominant style of American cinema is the classical Hollywood cinema, which developed from 1913 to 1969 and characterizes most films made there to this day. While Frenchmen Auguste and Louis Lumière are generally credited with the birth of modern cinema, American cinema soon came to be a dominant force in the emerging industry. It produces the largest number of films of any single-language national cinema, with more than 700 English-language films released on average every year. While the national cinemas of the United Kingdom (299), Canada (206), Australia, and New Zealand also produce films in the same language, they are not considered part of the Hollywood system. That said, Hollywood has also been considered a transnational cinema. It produced multiple language versions of some titles, often in Spanish or French. Contemporary Hollywood off-shores production to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Movietone News is a newsreel that ran from 1928 to 1963 in the United States. Under the name British Movietone News, it also ran in the United Kingdom from 1929 to 1979, In France also produced by Fox-Europa, in Australia and New Zealand until 1970, and Germany as Fox Tönende Wochenschau.
William Fox, born Wilhelm Fuchs, was a Hungarian-American motion picture executive who founded the Fox Film Corporation in 1915 and the Fox West Coast Theatres chain in the 1920s. Although he lost control of his movie businesses in 1930, his name was used by 20th Century Studios and continues to be used in the trademarks of the present-day Fox Corporation, including the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, and Fox Sports.
Goldwyn Pictures Corporation was an American motion picture production company that operated from 1916 to 1924 when it was merged with two other production companies to form the major studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was founded by Samuel Goldwyn.
Twentieth Century Pictures, Inc. was an independent Hollywood motion picture production company created in 1933 by Joseph Schenck and Darryl F. Zanuck from Warner Bros. Financial backing came from Schenck's younger brother Nicholas Schenck, president of Loew's, the theater chain that owned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Louis B. Mayer of MGM, who wanted a position for his son-in-law, William Goetz, Bank of America and Herbert J. Yates owner of the film processing laboratory Consolidated Film Industries, who later founded Republic Pictures Corporation in 1935. . The company product was distributed by United Artists (UA), and leased space at Samuel Goldwyn Studios.
Metro Pictures Corporation was a motion picture production company founded in early 1915 in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a forerunner of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The company produced its films in New York, Los Angeles, and sometimes at leased facilities in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It was purchased in 1919.
The Movietone sound system is an optical sound-on-film method of recording sound for motion pictures that guarantees synchronization between sound and picture. It achieves this by recording the sound as a variable-density optical track on the same strip of film that records the pictures. The initial version was capable of a frequency response of 8500 Hz. Although sound films today use variable-area tracks, any modern motion picture theater can play a Movietone film without modification to the projector. Movietone was one of four motion picture sound systems under development in the U.S. during the 1920s, the others being DeForest Phonofilm, Warner Brothers' Vitaphone, and RCA Photophone, though Phonofilm was primarily an early version of Movietone.
The Tri-Ergon sound-on-film system was developed from around 1919 by three German inventors, Josef Engl (1893–1942), Joseph Massolle (1889–1957), and Hans Vogt (1890–1979).
Saved from the Titanic is a 1912 American silent motion picture short starring Dorothy Gibson, an American film actress who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. Premiering in the United States just 29 days after the event, it is the earliest dramatization about the tragedy.
Theodore Willard Case was an American chemist, physicist, and inventor known for the invention of the Movietone sound-on-film system.
Hearst Metrotone News was a newsreel series (1914–1967) produced by the Hearst Corporation, founded by William Randolph Hearst.
Harold B. Franklin was an American cinema chain executive who later moved into production of stage shows and films. He co-produced the musical comedy Revenge with Music (1934). He produced the 1940 melodrama parody film The Villain Still Pursued Her.
St. Elmo is a 1914 American silent drama film produced by the Balboa Amusement Producing Company and distributed by William Fox's Box Office Attractions Company. It was the first feature-length film adaptation of Augusta Jane Evans's 1866 novel of the same name. The story follows the life of the title character, who kills his cousin over the love of Agnes, falls from grace, and eventually finds redemption and love with Edna. It is disputed who directed the film; many sources credit Bertram Bracken, while others list St. Elmo as J. Gordon Edwards's directorial debut.
Life's Shop Window is a 1914 American silent drama film directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Claire Whitney and Stuart Holmes. It is a film adaptation of the 1907 novel of the same name by Annie Sophie Cory. The film depicts the story of English orphan Lydia Wilton (Whitney), and her husband Bernard Chetwin (Holmes). Although Wilton's marriage is legitimate, it was conducted in secret, and she is accused of having a child out of wedlock. Forced to leave England, she reunites with her husband in Arizona. There, she is tempted by infidelity with an old acquaintance, Eustace Pelham, before seeing the error of her ways and returning to her family.
A major fire broke out in a 20th Century-Fox film storage facility in Little Ferry, New Jersey, United States on July 9, 1937. Flammable nitrate film had previously contributed to several fires in film industry laboratories, studios, and vaults; although the precise causes were often unknown. In Little Ferry, gases produced by decaying film, combined with high temperatures and inadequate ventilation, resulted in spontaneous combustion.