The Mouse House is taking out older 20th Century Fox films from public availability. Disney has done this in the past though, infamously pulling out several of its own movies in the past. Vulture confirmed that Disney has started taking out films discreetly with little to no explanation after months of guesswork from the public, which will be a detriment to theaters who rely on screenings of Fox films to stay afloat.
Just last year, Fox’s archive of their classic movies were readily available by any independent theater who were willing to pay the licensing fee needed to access the films. Disney has since been revoking screenings of Fox movies ever since the two companies finalized their merger. They have also denied further requests for new bookings without any pretext whatsoever.
This is not new, since Disney has infamously used this tactic to fabricate scarcity for their films by having their collection of films inaccessible to theaters while shuffling physical copies of their media like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray out of circulation. We can assume that Disney plans to do the same to the 20th Century Fox archive, which has a wide array of films from The Sound of Music to Die Hard and a whole lot in between.
Another assumption is that Disney plans to maneuver viewers to subscriber to their upcoming streaming platform, Disney+ and make the Fox film collection available there exclusively. It could be that Disney just wants to monopolize control on what films can be readily available and what films are off limits. According to Vulture‘s article, theater operators stated that Disney habitually bullies movie theaters even the bigger chain cinemas into agreeing to show their films by block-booking them. This means that if a theater wants to be able to screen say, an upcoming Marvel film, that theater needs to come into agreement with Disney that they have to show two or more of Disney’s less popular films.
Matt Zoller Seitz, film and TV critic from Vulture alluded to instances across the U.S. where Fox movies are being made inaccessible to theaters.
A director of a 24 hour Horror-Science Fiction marathon, Joe Neff tried to book The Fly (1986) and The Omen (1976) but had his request rebuffed. The Canadian Broadcasting Company released news stating that major cinema chains like Cineplex lost their access to the Fox film collection which served as a go-to source of movies for many theaters specifically regional chains and art house cinemas.
To put it simply, Disney chucking the Fox film collection into its vault may just be them to minimize internal competition, like having a late-night screening of Die Hard instead of the new Star Wars movie.