The third most successful of the five majors during the studio era. Formed in 1935 through a merger of William Fox’s Fox Film Corporation and Daryl F. Zanuck and Joseph Schenk’s 20th Century Pictures, 20th Century Fox’s output of films reflected both the studio’s tenuous financial position coming out of the Great Depression, as well as the consistent tenure of production head Zanuck.
The Fox Film Corporation in 1935 had fallen on hard times, a considerable drop since only five years earlier it was, briefly, the largest media corporation in the world (the result of a merger with Loew’s, which lasted a scant 18 months). Like many major studios at the onset of the Depression (particularly Paramount and Loew’s), Fox was crippled with the costs of it’s chain of 500+ theaters (to put it succinctly, that’s a lot of mortgages); it cycled through a series of chief executives until eventually settling on Sidney Kent, who brought the studio’s distribution and exhibition operations back to order. In search of profitable films to exhibit, Fox merged with 20th Century Pictures, a short lived production studio that enjoyed considerable success during it’s brief life (75% of the films it produced in it’s first season were hits), and which was eager to merge with a big five studio. As a result of the merger, Daryl F. Zanuck became Vice-President in charge of Production—a position he would hold for over 30 years.Read less