Disney reportedly still blocking exhibition of classic Fox films

1979's Alien
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More American cinemas are being refused permission to screen vintage Fox properties such as Alien.

Back in August, U.S. cinema owners voiced concern that they were finding it increasingly difficult to get permission to screen classic Fox properties, an issue that preceding the company’s sale to Disney, had not been a problem. Months later, a report from Vulture is suggesting that the problem has snowballed and that the vast majority of cinemas, both independent and chain, are experiencing the same difficulties.

Whilst Disney themselves are declining to comment on the matter, cinema owners (usually under a veil of anonymity, for obvious reasons) are voicing their frustrations and concerns. In the case or repertory cinemas in particular, who rely on Fox’s huge vintage library for a substantial proportion of their annual offerings, this is gravely concerning. Likewise, first-run chain cinemas have also found their requests to screen seasonal classics such as Die Hard and 28 Days Later denied.

Whilst some have speculated that this is a move on Disney’s part to withhold Fox movies to build anticipation for their release on the upcoming Disney+ platform, others have argued that it’s merely a natural extension of the general way in which Disney has always conducted business since the conception of the ‘Disney Vault’, applying the logic that an older Fox film in a cinema is taking up a screen that could be occupied by the latest Disney blockbuster. Exceptions to what seems to increasingly be a U.S. rule have been noted: free, ‘cultural’ showings at museums and such appear to still be happening and the much-loved Rocky Horror Picture Show is still appearing.

On the whole however, this continues to be bad news for both American cinemas and cinema patrons as a whole slew of films may not be seen on the silver screen for some time to come. No word as yet on a UK policy, but the indies we’ve spoken to say that there’s been no change over here. Likewise, Yuletide screenings of Die Hard are starting to pop up.

More news as this story progresses.

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