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As speculation swirls about the impact of Disney’s pending $52.4 billion acquisition of Fox assets, Stacey Snider took the stage in what felt like her final turn at CinemaCon as chairman of 20th Century Fox film.
“Today we face a new transition and potential merger that will have lasting implications for the film business. I have no more insight than you do,” the chairman and CEO of the studio on Thursday told theater owners in Las Vegas. “Going forward, let’s stay committed to the vision of cinema. Let’s wear our hearts on our sleeves and aim to please.”
The exec also spoke about the rich history of the studio’s cinematic offerings. “When 20th Century Fox was founded by way of a merger, the movie business was regaining its footing from years of depression,” Snider said. “We’ve been making movies and memories for nearly 85 years through all of the decades.”
She added, “Let’s take meaningful steps to make sure people still come together to see things they have never seen before.”
Snider shared hosting duties with longtime Fox domestic distribution president Chris Aronson. The slate presentation — which wrapped in under an hour and a half, far shorter than in previous years — was tinged with emotion and a sense of farewell. At one point, Snider chocked up. And there were far fewer stars than usual.
The Fox session wrapped with a marching band walking down the aisles of The Colosseum at Caesars Palace playing the 20th Century Fox theme song.
“Thank you all so much for coming today. Thanks so much and we’ll see you all real soon,” said Aronson, who appeared earlier in a spoof video with Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman that riffed on the merger.
In the video, Reynolds (dressed as Deadpool) told Aronson he was late for his presentation. “I’m totally fucked,” said Aronson, who had overslept and was dressed in a Greatest Showman outfit. Eventually, Aronson, Reynolds and Jackman exit, and then it’s revealed that Disney’s Pluto was in the room as well.
Disney CEO Bob Iger and Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch on Dec. 14 unveiled the deal for Disney to acquire Fox’s film and TV studio, a merger that analysts expect could result in significant layoffs and cost savings.
The pending deal also raises questions about the future of 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight, although Iger has repeatedly praised Searchlight.
Snider was in Las Vegas in support of upcoming Fox titles including Ryan Reynolds’ R-rated Deadpool 2, the YA adaptation The Darkest Minds, Shane Black’s reboot of the Predator series and more.
Rami Malek introduced the first trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, and spoke about the pressures of playing late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic. “When I got this role, I thought, ‘Oh, my God, this could be a career-defining performance.’ And then two minutes later I thought, ‘This could be a career killer,'” the actor said.
Director Robert Rodriguez showed off two clips from his upcoming Alita: Battle Angel, the manga adaptation being produced by James Cameron. Rodriguez called Cameron, who is also working on four sequels to Avatar, “the busiest guy in the world,” but noted he took time to be a teacher on the project.
“He wouldn’t send back [just] an answer, but a thesis. He’s very thorough,” Rodriguez said of picking the brain of his fellow filmmaker, who has been working since the 1990s to make the project a reality.
Queen’s “We Are the Champions” served as a fitting conclusion as theater owners exited The Colosseum.
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