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Speaking from the Fox film studio in Los Angeles, Murdoch described 21st Century Fox as “an organization of thoughtful risk-takers,” and he recalled conversations with CEO Fox Filmed Entertainment Jim Gianopulos about the greenlighting of Titanic.
“Jim Gianopulos still won’t tell me how much that movie really cost. All’s he will tell me is that it cost less than Avatar,” Murdoch joked.
He told investors they were gathered where The Seven Year Itch and Young Frankenstein were shot and boasted of the worldwide appeal of Fox films, using Life of Pi as a primary example.
“The film was very high risk,” he said.
Murdoch said rapidly changing technology represents far more opportunity than challenges, and noted that 1 billion smartphones will be sold worldwide this year.
“Thanks to free enterprise and the information revolution, all borders and obstacles are obsolete,” Murdoch said. “We have a great and growing global middle class who hunger for quality news and entertainment.”
Following Murdoch’s brief remarks, COO Chase Carey took the stage to defend the bundling of cable channels — “A la carte is a fantasy,” he said — and attack Aereo, which he called “little more than a gimmick.”
Perhaps addressing a carriage dispute between CBS and Time Warner Cable, Carey said: “Consumers actually want a bundle, they just a different bundle … With so many agreements tied to the bundle, the discussion around this issue is about negotiating leverage and headlines.”
He also spoke of improving the TV business by “breaking the outdated rule book for primetime television, and pursuing improvements in measurement and control over viewership through initiatives like TV Everywhere, and continued expansion in social media.”
Later, Gianopulos said that James Cameron is “finalizing” the scripts for the next three Avatar movies, which he said are set for release in December 2016, December 2017 and December 2018.
Gianopulos went through the studio’s fiscal 2014 film schedule, including The Counselor with Brad Pitt, The Monuments Men with George Clooney and The Maze Runner, which he said could be “the start of another great franchise.”
In fiscal 2015, the studio has Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and a Blue Sky treatment of Charlie Brown and his Peanuts gang. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is also in the works, and the studio is “talking” to Tim Burton to direct, Gianopulos said.
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