20th Century Fox
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Fox Film Corporation was formed in 1915 by the theater "chain" pioneer William Fox, who formed Fox Film Corporation by merging two companies he had established in 1913: Greater New York Film Rental, a distribution firm, which was part of the Independents; and Fox (or Box, depending on the source) Office Attractions Company, a production company. This merging of a distribution company and a production company was an early example of vertical integration.
Always more of an entrepreneur than a showman, Fox concentrated on acquiring and building theaters; pictures were secondary. The company's first film studios were set up in Fort Lee, New Jersey, but in 1917, William Fox sent Sol M. Wurtzel to Hollywood, California to oversee the studio's new West Coast production facilities where a more hospitable and cost effective climate existed for film making.
With the introduction of sound technologies, Fox moved to acquire the rights to a sound-on-film process. In the years 1925-26, Fox purchased the rights to the work of Freeman Harrison Owens, the U.S. rights to the Tri-Ergon system invented by three German inventors, and the work of Theodore Case. This resulted in the Movietone sound system later known as 'Fox Movietone'. Later that year, the company began offering films with a music-and-effects track, and the following year Fox began the weekly Fox Movietone News feature, which ran until 1963. The growing company needed space, and in 1926 Fox acquired 300 acres (1.2 km²) in the open country west of Beverly Hills and built "Movietone City", the best-equipped studio of its time.
When rival Marcus Loew died in 1927, Fox offered to buy the Loew family's holdings. Loew's Inc. controlled more than two-hundred theaters as well as the MGM studio (whose films are currently distributed internationally by Fox -- see below). When the family agreed to the sale, the merger of Fox and Loew's Inc. was announced in 1929. But MGM studio-boss Louis B. Mayer, not included in the deal, fought back. Using political connections, Mayer called on the Justice Department's anti-trust unit to block the merger. Fate favored Mayer -- Fox was badly injured in a car crash and by the time he recovered the 1929 stock market crash had taken most of his fortune, putting an end to the Loew's merger.
Over-extended and close to bankruptcy, Fox was stripped of his empire and even ended up in jail. Fox Film, with more than 500 theatres, was placed in receivership. A bank-mandated reorganization propped the company up for a time, but it was clear a merger was the only way Fox Film could survive. Under new president Sidney Kent, the new owners merged the company with Twentieth Century Pictures to form 20th Century Fox in 1935.