Following the Disney conglomerate’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox earlier this year, those in the film industry knew things were going to change. They most likely didn’t realize though that such a transaction would affect those who run theaters throughout the country, too. Unfortunately, however, that appears to be precisely what’s happening right now.
Ever since the purchase, cinemas throughout the United States are said to be having unexpected difficulties when it comes to screening classic Fox films. Vulture recently reported that one of their programmers attempted to acquire rights to screen Fox movies for their annual spring 24-Hour Science Fiction and Horror Marathons at the Drexel Theater. Joe Neff, director of the yearly event, wanted to screen two classic Fox pics: the original version of The Omen and the 1986 remake of The Fly.
Following Disney’s latest deal, though, his requests to screen those movies were denied. The director was offered “a very brief apology” because those in charge could no longer book “repertory titles with the theater.” Neff says he’s heard rumors about Disney making older Fox titles unavailable to for-profit theaters and these rumblings are backed up by stories of other programmers and theater managers whose existing bookings to screen Fox films have been “revoked.”
Disney has remained strategically quiet on this matter while they try to discreetly place the classic Fox flicks into their vault. It seems likely that the company is doing this because of their upcoming streaming service. Disney Plus, which is set to launch in a month from now, could potentially have all of these movies available for subscribers to watch. The goal could therefore be to limit the exposure to these films as much as possible so that audiences will be forced to pay for the platform if they want to enjoy the features.
There’s no proof that this is the case, of course, but it makes a lot of sense. For now, though, all we can do is keep asking questions and try to get to the bottom of why Disney‘s depriving theaters of these beloved classics.