Cinemas losing access to 20th Century Fox film archives after Disney acquisition


TORONTO — Canadian cinemas say they are losing the rights to screen fan favourites like “Die Hard” and “Home Alone” after the 20th Century Fox back-catalogue was swallowed up by The Walt Disney Co.

Independent filmhouses have been worried about losing access to the archives ever since Disney took over Fox’s entertainment assets earlier this year, said Eric Veillette, programming director at Toronto’s Revue Cinema.

“This is something that a lot of exhibitors have been fearing for some time, because Disney has had a long-standing practice of not allowing any of its archival catalogue to be screened theatrically.”

Now, Veillette says a Disney representative has confirmed to the cinema that it will no longer be able to book repertory films from Fox.

The change will also affect Cineplex Inc., which shows a variety of older movies through its repertory film series, said spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange.

She said Cineplex has several Fox films scheduled for later this year including “Fight Club” and “Alien,” but that going forward they won’t be able to book films from the studio’s archives.

Disney did not immediately return a request for comment.

The company acquired Fox for US$71.3 billion in March, gaining control of a huge catalogue that includes everything from silent era films, to “The Sound of Music,” to blockbusters like “Titanic.”

“It’s certainly never a good thing when one company owns too many things,” said Veillette.

He said that while it’s a shame to lose the titles, there are still a wide range of films from other studios for the non-profit Revue Cinema to choose from.

“Even though we’re losing some choice films, which is a shame, and I’m happy to make that clear, there’s still a lot to work with.”

Disney has been amassing content as competition heats up in the online streaming world. The company plans to launch Disney Plus, its answer to competition from Netflix, Apple and Amazon, in November.


Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press