Logan Director Worried About Potential Fox/Disney Deal


When the news broke about the possibility of Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox, two very distinct schools of thought immediately emerged. On the one hand, some people became very excited about more Marvel characters being brought into the MCU. On the other hand, some became very concerned about the idea of one of the biggest, most pervasive entertainment companies in the world getting bigger and more pervasive. Now that awards season has begun in earnest, the potential Fox-Disney merger is a subject being posed to many filmmakers, and Logan director James Mangold has not been holding back.

With the X-Men threequel generating some serious awards buzz, Mangold participated in a screening and panel discussion at Midtown Manhattan’s Whitby Hotel, along with cast members Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Mangold, when asked about his feelings regarding the potential merger, reflected on his collaborations with the studio – including Logan – and explained it’s important that 20th Century Fox retain its ethos, after any sale.

“If they’re actually changing their mandate, if what they’re supposed to do alters, that would be sad to me because it just means less movies.”

His concern, it seems, echoes those of the second school of thought – which warns that being absorbed by Disney may lead to a loss of vital variety when it comes to film releases. It was, after all, 20th Century Fox that recently found success with more challenging, R-rated superhero movies, in contrast to the more purposefully sculpted, edgeless fare of which Disney’s brand is most famously comprised.

“The real thing that happens when you make a movie rated R, behind the scenes, is that the studio has to adjust to the reality that there will be no Happy Meals,” says Mangold. “There will be no action figures. The entire merchandising, cross-pollinating side of selling the movie to children is dead before you even start. And when that’s dead, it means you’re making a grown-up movie.”

“[Making an R-rated movie means] you don’t come under the pressure of how a 12-year-old is going to react to the movie, not just in terms of violence or language but in terms of pace or even the depth of interest in what people are talking about.”

“We’ve now so co-opted this idea that these movies are not really stories, but are merchandise entities. You can’t kill the characters because they’re worth so much effing money.”

This is indeed a valid concern, which reflects the wider issue of the impact Disney’s acquisition of Marvel has had on cinema in general. Aside from helping to crowd smaller, independent films out of theatres, the heavy emphasis on its big budget, PG-13 tentpole projects means that alternative approaches – such as Fox’s R-rated superheroes – also struggle for air. This leads to a film marketplace flooded with homogenous gloss, as opposed to a range of challenging narrative and artistry.

Technically, Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox is not yet a done deal – but it certainly looks increasingly likely. It seems that James Mangold is now just hoping for the best after the merger, but whether those more challenging Fox projects continue beyond Deadpool 2 remains to be seen.