by Ray Keating
January 20, 2020
No one should be surprised that the Walt Disney Company has officially removed the name “Fox” from two movie studios it acquired in the $71.3 billion deal for the Fox entertainment assets. So, 20thCentury Fox is now 20thCentury Studios, and Fox Searchlight is Searchlight Pictures.
Disney reportedly has merely confirmed the new names, and said nothing else.
That, of course, doesn’t stop all kinds of speculation regarding this decision, with it being particular popular to peg the name change to the politics of Fox News. The theory goes that since Fox News is so controversial in Hollywood that Disney didn’t want any potential confusion.
In reality, the politics of Fox News doesn’t matter. While I’m sure that few in the Disney Company hierarchy are big Fox News watchers, this was a straightforward branding decision by Disney.
The name “Fox” continues to exist with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News, local Fox stations and other assets. Given that reality, Disney was smart to make sure that no confusion exists from a business and branding perspective. Therefore, “Fox” was destined for elimination with Disney-owned assets. Indeed, this move on the naming of two movie studios follows a decision three months ago to fold 20thCentury Fox Television into a unit called Disney Television Studios.
While one is free to read politics into Disney’s decision to strip the “Fox” name out of its movie studio names, that doesn’t mean such assertions have merit. Once more, this is about branding, and Disney is very good when it comes to branding.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of The Disney Planner 2020: The TO DO List Solutionand the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.