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Old 08-21-2008, 05:52 PM   #1
DBZ2cool
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Default LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked studio

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When News Corp. President Peter Chernin was taking a victory lap last week after the company reported a 27% jump in its fiscal fourth-quarter net income, he took pains to credit the 20th Century Fox Film Group for much of the good news. He also predicted healthy earnings in the future, pointing to such upcoming summer 2009 films as "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "Night at the Museum II: Escape from the Smithsonian." For Hollywood insiders, it was telling that Chernin--perhaps the savviest showbiz mogul of our era--somehow failed to mention any of his studio's movies from this summer.

And with good reason. This is the first summer since 1997 that Fox hasn't had a $100-million box-office hit. For 10 straight summers, the Fox assembly line has churned out every kind of hit imaginable, from "X-Men" movies to "Dr. Dolittle" and "Big Momma's House" family comedies to last year's "Simpsons Movie." Even more impressively, in three of the last four summers, the studio had three $100-million-plus hits each year (perhaps its best summer being 2005, when it had "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith," "The Fantastic Four" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," which all topped $150 million in the U.S. alone).

The remarkable consistency of the Fox movie machine has made this summer's series of disappointments and flops even more of a surprising stumble. It's a shock to the system--like the New York Yankees not making the playoffs. Built around intense fiscal discipline and tight creative control, Fox has been a studio that rarely made a false move. But this summer has been different. Without a true tentpole film, the results have been dispiriting. The studio's biggest hit was "What Happens in Vegas," a forgettable comedy that grossed $80 million in the U.S. and roughly $215 million around the world. "The Happening," a poorly reviewed thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, topped out at $64 million (though it's performed better overseas). The other films have been embarrassments, especially by Fox standards.

"Meet Dave," a costly Eddie Murphy comedy, was a big bomb; "The X Files: I Want to Believe" had a weak opening and dropped off precipitously afterward, and "Space Chimps" barely made a ripple (though it wasn't financed by Fox). This coming weekend's entry, "Mirrors," is another film Fox is simply distributing (it was financed by New Regency), but it's still eating up time and money on the release schedule. According to tracking numbers, it's on course to be another loser.

Fox executives say that after 10 straight summers of success it was inevitable that they'd have an off year. Fair enough. But I say the cruel summer numbers are also the result of a rigidly constructed system that has driven away nearly all of the creative filmmakers and producers who once worked on the lot, putting the studio's movies in the hands of hacks, newcomers and nonentities who largely execute the wishes of the Fox production team led by studio Co-Chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos.

Rothman and Gianopulos (who would not speak to me for this story) have been running the studio since 2000 and they've run it as well as anyone else in the business. But by Hollywood standards, nine years is the equivalent of a couple of centuries. Is it time for some new blood--or at least a new approach?

When it comes to Fox's movie management skills, I've always been of two minds. The part of me who has to balance a checkbook every month is always impressed, since the studio rarely wastes any money, avoids colossal blunders and shrewdly steers all its risky art-house projects to Fox Searchlight, its specialty film division. But the part of me who loves movies questions whether a studio can go to such lengths to manage risk that it bleeds all the joy, spontaneity and art out of the business.

With the exception of James Cameron and Baz Luhrmann, who make movies once every millennium, Fox rarely hires a filmmaker with contractual rights to final cut or any strong creative point of view. With the exception of Shyamalan, whose career has been in a downhill slide ever since "The Sixth Sense," this summer's films were directed by guys who will only get invited to the Oscars as someone else's date. "Meet Dave's" Brian Robbins did "Norbit." "Vegas' " Tom Vaughan did "Starter for 10." "Space Chimps' " Kirk De Micco is a first-time director. This weekend's "Mirrors" director Alexander Aja did the horror film "The Hills Have Eyes."

It wasn't always this way. In the early years of Fox's $100-million streak, the studio still occasionally had the appetite for classy summer fare made by A-list filmmakers. In 1998, both Warren Beatty's "Bulworth" and Forest Whitaker's "Hope Floats" were summer films. In 2001, the studio released Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" and Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" in the summer. Even as late as 2002, it put out summer films directed by such distinctive filmmakers as Adrian Lyne ("Unfaithful") and Steven Spielberg ("Minority Report").

But having suffered through years of having their chain yanked by the studio's business affairs department and having seen virtually every creative decision approved by Rothman, top talent learned to avoid Fox like the plague. After making an "X-Man" movie there, Brett Ratner complained that Rothman even had approval of releasing key photo images from the film. Innumerable agents have complained to me that Fox doesn't want filmmakers--it wants no-name traffic cops to direct its movies. Here're the people who directed the studio's 2007 summer films: James Wan, Tom Brady, David Silverman, Len Wiseman, Tim Story and Carlos Fresnadillo. I bet some of them are genuinely nice guys, but there's not a Warren Beatty or Tim Burton in the bunch.

Fox also doesn't have any A-list producers, because the real producers of Fox movies are its executives. Other studios have deals with Oscar-winning producers like Brian Grazer and Scott Rudin, box-office behemoths like Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver and a host of knowledgeable veterans, including Neal Moritz and Laura Ziskin (at Sony), Lorenzo diBonaventura and J.J. Abrams (at Paramount) and Kennedy/Marshall and Scott Stuber at Universal. Fox's biggest producer is John Davis, the man behind the "Garfield" and "Dr. Dolittle" franchises.

The executive with the most influence on filmmaking is Rothman, who is a fascinating jumble of contradictions. He got his start as an executive in the specialty film world, running Goldwyn Films and launching Fox Searchlight, yet he's now the epitome of a commercial-minded studio boss. Rothman also writes his own thoughtful monologues as the host of "Fox Legacy," a Fox Movie Channel show devoted to the history of great films from the studio library. Of course the irony is that the program celebrates films like "MASH," "Wall Street" and "Phantom of the Paradise," all pictures made by prickly, hard-to-control directors that today's Rothman-run Fox wouldn't dream of hiring.

Fox does have a powerhouse lineup of movies for next summer, so I'm certainly not predicting any precipitous fall from grace. But if the studio really believes it can continue to compete, year in and year out, without regularly working with top-flight artists, I think it will eventually find itself in decline. For decades, studios have tried, in one way or another, to take the risk out of filmmaking, either by laying off financing to outside entities or employing various sorts of quality-control formulas.

But art is elusive. It rarely responds to or can be regulated by any sort of formula. When Fox made "MASH" nearly 40 years ago, it thought the film was a disaster because it felt so far out of the mainstream. It turned out the film was more plugged into the emerging new culture than any of the studio executives. The same could be said about George Lucas' "Star Wars," or James Cameron's "Titanic," which was written off as an epic blunder before anyone saw a foot of footage. Great films come from great filmmakers.

If Fox continues to hire pliable, easy-to-control talent, it may discover that today's youthful audience, always on the prowl for something exciting and new and strangely different, will have the studio behind. Investors love predictable quarterly earnings, but moviegoers enjoy surprises. An immensely bright if sometimes overbearing man, I think Rothman still has some of that maverick, movie-loving spirit inside him. It's time he embraced it.
This article sums it up nicely. No wonder fox is the studio that makes weakest movies. They don't have directors or producers who can give them mega blockbusters.

They only have good relationship with Baz Luhrmann and James Cameron but they make movies once every millenium LOL

Poor fox. It is their system that has scared away directors. This article pretty much sums up that they hire no name, hack directors because these directors have no control over the project and they can't argue. This means that no matter how much James Wong would like DB to be intense, edgy and cool fox will order him to tone down the violence etc. and cut it to 85 minutes with PG rating. Sigh Tom Rothman is actually has a lot of knowledge on films but he has developed bad habits.


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Old 08-21-2008, 06:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

We all know Fox are useless thats why this film will be bad and will most likely flop.

Thats why Paramount should have had Dragonball

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Old 08-21-2008, 06:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

You do realize that no studio cares about Dragonball. No one is intimidated by it. Everyone thinks dragonball as a franchise is a joke. Hell all movie bloggers think the same. Fox somehow got interested in it and got the rights but then sat on it for years and then decided to churn a quick movie to extend their rights.

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Old 08-21-2008, 07:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

Well Dragonball isnt really something thats gonna be big because most people think its childish anyway, but we'll see how it turns out

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Old 08-21-2008, 07:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

This thread is no big revelation.

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Old 08-21-2008, 07:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

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This thread is no big revelation.
My thoughts exactly

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Old 08-21-2008, 07:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

This should be locked

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Old 08-21-2008, 07:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

It should!

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Old 08-21-2008, 08:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

No way this thread is soooooooooooooooooooo important.

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Old 08-22-2008, 12:21 AM   #10
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

Thanks!

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Old 08-22-2008, 03:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

I hope it doesn't get can, would want to see how things go, flop or not.

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Old 08-22-2008, 06:13 PM   #12
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

I disagree that the thread isn't showing anything new - finally, the press is catching on Fox's lackluster success and their overbearing micro-managing. I mean, it's getting clear now that even the mainstream is questioning Fox, not just fanboys.

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Old 08-22-2008, 08:16 PM   #13
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

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I disagree that the thread isn't showing anything new - finally, the press is catching on Fox's lackluster success and their overbearing micro-managing. I mean, it's getting clear now that even the mainstream is questioning Fox, not just fanboys.

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Old 08-22-2008, 08:53 PM   #14
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

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Yes so true. The other day I was in theatre with one of my friend who doesn't care about internet fans or studios but when we saw a trailer of max payne (fox) he said to me "It looks good but I have seen so many movies from the same studio and they all were bad. I don't know if I should watch this movie"

I think the general audience are smart and they also realize that majority of the movies fox releases in a year are pure garbage.

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Old 08-22-2008, 09:02 PM   #15
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

The only thing about Fox I like is Fox Searchlight. The main Fox studio and the new Fox Atomic have done nothing for me. I haven't enjoyed a fox film since X2, and the only film down the pipeline that intrests me is Avatar, which is from Cameron, who they'll let have free regin on production (which is a damn good thing, bause if they interfere with a Cameron production i will never watch another fox film).

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Old 08-23-2008, 05:20 AM   #16
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

Fox Destroy franchises. Why the hell do they keep getting rights to comic/video games adapations?

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Old 08-23-2008, 06:52 AM   #17
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

I think Fox needs a reboot...

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Old 08-23-2008, 01:02 PM   #18
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

How about I become the head of FOX? Ohh when the happens a certain s word will hit the fan.

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Old 08-23-2008, 03:00 PM   #19
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

lol fox isnt the least liked..

whichever studio is approving these spoof movies are the worst studio...

the ones that approve uwe boll movies are just the least knowledgeable lol

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Old 08-23-2008, 03:51 PM   #20
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

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lol fox isnt the least liked..

whichever studio is approving these spoof movies are the worst studio...

the ones that approve uwe boll movies are just the least knowledgeable lol
i agree

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Old 08-28-2008, 12:12 PM   #21
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

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Fox Destroy franchises. Why the hell do they keep getting rights to comic/video games adapations?
My guess is that they probably give the best short-sighted deals. The more money a studio puts into a film, the more they will justifiably ask in return. Fox spends less on their films and therefore probably asks for less in return and offers a bigger pay-off (undercutting probable offers or deals from other studios)--something the owners of the properties probably find appealing and tempting ($$$). Those that are in it mostly for the money or desperate to break into the industry (Marvel at the time) probably consider such a deal a win win situation. However, Fox will no doubt lock the property up for the long term.

Unfortunately, Fox's "films on the cheap" approach usually undercuts the creative potential and profit potential of said properties.


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Old 08-28-2008, 06:52 PM   #22
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

And it's all starting to catch up to FOX after all their stuff ups.

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Old 09-02-2008, 09:50 AM   #23
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Till I read the article I never realized that. Fox was on top, and this year they blow,lol did anyone care for x-files? And the trailer of space chimps alone told everyone it wasn't a good movie

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Old 09-02-2008, 01:27 PM   #24
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

Fox is always on top (or close to it). This year was just really sucky due to poor planning. The came into 2008 without a single summer tent-pole.

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Old 09-02-2008, 03:42 PM   #25
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Default Re: LA Times explains why FOX did poorly this summer and why they are least liked stu

2009, they have Dragonball, Wolverine, Night at the Museum 2, Ice Age 3, Avatar.

So theyll do better next year

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