Despite ‘Apes’ and ‘Deadpool,’ Bob Iger Doesn’t Expect Disney to ‘Lean Into’ 20th Century IP

“We’re going to look opportunistically at it,” Disney CEO tells shareholders

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
20th Century

Between “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” “Alien: Romulus” and “Deadpool & Wolverine,” Disney has heavily built its summer slate around the IP it picked up from 20th Century Fox. But Bob Iger says it’s not a sign of a larger trend.

In Disney’s latest earnings call on Tuesday morning, the CEO said that while major 20th Century franchises like James Cameron’s “Avatar” series will be a part of the studio’s theatrical slate, it’s unlikely that there will be greater IP-driven output from that label in the future.

“We continue to look at the library to see what can be mined,” Iger said. “I don’t think we’re necessarily going to lean into the library but we’re going to look opportunistically at it.”

This Friday, Disney will release 20th Century’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” a continuation of the “Apes” reboot trilogy that began in 2011 with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and continued with two successful sequels from Fox in 2014 and 2017. The film is projected for an opening in the $50 million range, similar to the $56 million opening of “War for the Planet of the Apes” in 2017.

The studio will also release “Alien: Romulus,” the seventh installment in the “Alien” series, on Aug. 16. Originally greenlit as a Hulu-exclusive title in 2022, the film was pivoted to theatrical shortly before filming commenced.

In between those two films is “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which will have a chance to become one of the highest grossing R-rated films in box office history when it is released on July 26. While produced by Marvel Studios and released under their label, the movie marks one of the big IP acquisitions of the Disney-Fox merger coming to fruition as Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, the biggest character-actor combos from Fox’s Marvel films, are brought into the MCU.

But while these franchises are still present in the theatrical market, the number of films released per year by Disney through 20th Century Studios pales in comparison to the number of films 20th Century Fox released annually. While Fox released on average 16 films through the 2010s, Disney has not had more than five 20th Century Studios theatrical releases in a single year.

With movie theaters calling on studios to increase the quantity of theatrical releases back to pre-pandemic levels, the ongoing trend of studio consolidation is running against that goal. In addition to the Disney-Fox merger, Paramount is now weighing a $26 billion offer from Sony Pictures and private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy the company, creating a scenario in which Paramount would become a label like 20th Century in Sony’s portfolio of production companies that includes Columbia, TriStar and Screen Gems.


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