Fox Studios: Chronology


Fox Film Corporation formed by the theater chain pioneer William G Fox, as a merger of his two companies Greater New York Film Rental and Fox Office Attractions Company. The first studios were in Fort Lee, New Jersey. De Luxe formed the film and camera department for the studio.

The novelist Rev. Thomas Dixon moved to Los Angeles to setup Dixon Studios, Laboratory and Press on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue, after being inspired by D.W.Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.


Fox leases the 0.75-acre, former Selig/Polyscope studio in the Edendale area, but quickly outgrows it and moves to a new purpose-built studio a year later..


Fox sent a representative to from New York to Hollywood to oversee the expansion of production facilities at the former Dixon Studios site, which was situated in East Hollywood at Sunset & Western. This was the base for Fox between 1917 and 1924. The Deluxe lab (which was based on the site from 1917 until it closed in May 2014) takes up a large proportion of the still-existing studio buildings. Also on the site is a Food4Less supermarket.
More information about the Sunset & Western studio.
News Article about closure of Deluxe lab


Fox bought the rights to the Movietone sound system, which became Fox Movietone.


Fox bought the private ranch of it’s silent Western star Tom Mix, including 176 acres of rolling countryside, a bungalow and a stable, between two roads which became Santa Monica and Pico. Here he started construction of a new studio he called ‘Movietone City’. (The bungalow is still preserved on the Fox lot, near the satellite facility). Many of the stages still have Fox Movietone logos above their entrance doors.


The Jazz Singer (1927) revolutionised the industry, and William Fox sped up construction of state-of-the-art soundstages.


Fox’s offer to buy Loew’s Inc. was accepted, but after the stock market crash in the fall of 1929, the merger was stopped, and Fox was left close to bankruptcy and ended up in jail. Fox Film, with more than 500 theatres, was placed in receivership.


Twentieth Century Pictures created by Joseph Schenck (former president of United Artists), Darryl F. Zanuck from Warner Brothers, William Goetz from Fox Films and Raymond Griffith.

1935 (May 31)

After a bank-mandated reorganisation, under new president Sidney Kent, the new owners merged Fox Film with Twentieth Century Pictures to form The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. Joe Schenck and Darryl F. Zanuck retained their roles as chief executive and head of production, respectively.


A court ruling meant the theaters Fox ran had to be split off into a new company Fox National Theaters.
Fox bought the rights to a new projection system called CinemaScope in February 1953 and Zanuck announced that all Fox pictures would be made in this process. Fox agreed to pay conversion costs for each theater (of around $25,000 per screen). A new CinemaScope anamorphic lens was added to the front of the projector and wider format screens had to be installed. Fox gave access to the format to other studios to help convince theater owners. CinemaScope showed a brief increase in audience numbers, but the numbers began to slide after a few years.


Darryl F.Zanuck announced his resignation as head of production.


Plans are drawn up for the development of the Fox backlot into Century City.


Fox sold 263 acres of backlot (now the site of Century City) to Alcoa to raise funds during the production of troubled epic Cleopatra. The backlot is systematically destroyed to clear the ground.


Darryl F.Zanuck is appointed chairman, and his son Richard Zanuck takes on the role of president. The new management group rushed Cleopatra to completion, and shut down the studio, laying off the staff, to save money. The Movietone Newsreel also ceased production. A series of cheap, popular movies were made which re-established Fox as a major player.


The Century Plaza Hotel was the first major construction at Century City. Avenue of the Stars was the first street constructed.


Twentieth Century-Fox was rescued by The Sound of Music (1965) which boosted the studios fortunes and became one of the all-time greatest box office hits.


Zanuck leaves as chairman. Fox had a few bad years between 1969 and 1971 resulting in some losses.


New president Dennis Stanfill and production head Alan Ladd Jr. get Fox back on track. Profits are invested in resorts, soft-drink bottlers and Australian theaters.


Fox produces Star Wars and has an unprecendented success on it’s hands.


Control of the company passed to investors Marc Rich and Marvin Davis.


In early 1985 half of the company was sold to News Corp. after Marc Rich left the country. Six months later, the remaining half was sold, giving Rupert Murdoch’s company complete control. Barry Diller was hired from Paramount to run the studio. Murdoch became an American citizen, and Twentieth Century Fox dropped the hyphen from its name.


Fox Broadcasting Company began broadcasting.

1987 February

Fox Plaza is completed, following the site’s use as the setting for Die Hard (1988). As well as housing the offices of 20th Century Fox executives, Ronald Reagan’s post-presidential offices took over the lavish top floor (1987-1999).


The British Rank company buys Deluxe labs in Hollywood. The Rank lab in London is renamed Deluxe.


Fox became the international distributor for MGM/UA releases.


Fox became the worldwide video distributor for the MGM/UA library.