When it comes to Disney's acquisition of major studios, it becomes apparent that the goal with each studio to "specialize" in particular forms of entertainment. While Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm are spoken for in exactly what franchises they represent, for Disney's more recent acquisition 20th Century Studios, formerly 20th Century Fox, it's a much more dire situation. In talking to The Hollywood Reporter, studio president Steve Asbell had this to say:
“It goes like the other divisions, two or three theatrical movies a year. We’re navigating the marketplace like everyone else.”
This comes following an updated theatrical release slate from Disney circulating earlier in the week with note that 20th Century Studios essentially has only a handful of theatrical releases planned, namely the four Avatar sequels between 2022-2028. During this same interview, Asbell highlighted that big franchises of the studio would be the focus of the theatrical model. Besides Avatar, he highlighted new installments to Free Guy and Planet of The Apes though also mentioned a sequel to Kenneth Branaugh's Death on the Nile was also happening. So what about the rest of 20th Century's in-development projects? As you can guess, Asbell suggested the bulk of their work could be funneled to Disney’s various streaming services as part of a new “streaming mandate":
“We have this explosive new streaming mandate to pursue, yet we also have titles that we can make …In order to meet the volume that we are looking at — which is, by 2023, 10-plus movies just for streaming — it’s going to be a combination of originals in those genres."
This has already become apparent already with the upcoming Predator film Prey (A prequel set in 1719) set to exclusively premiere on Hulu. Sadly, it seems 20th Century Studios will serve as more of a filler studio who projects keep the audiences interested at home while Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Disney keep them interested on the big screen. Whatever that indicates for the theatrical model is not good, but for fans of the once thriving studio whose catalogue is one of the most revered of the industry, it seems like a might sad demotion. Stay tuned!