Greg Berlanti Mourns Disney’s Fox 2000 Closure, Warns of Battle for ‘Equality in Multiplexes’

Producer and director Greg Berlanti expressed sadness and anxiety over the fate of diverse storytelling in commercial movies, on the heels of Disney’s decision to close the Fox 2000 film label it acquired last week.

Accepting the GLAAD Media Award for best feature for his Fox 2000 film “Love, Simon” on Thursday night in Los Angeles, Berlanti addressed the Fox-Disney deal in a crowd that included his old boss and former 20th Century Fox Film CEO Stacey Snider.

“Films like ‘Love, Simon’ aren’t tentpoles, but they also aren’t independent films. That’s why we need GLAAD more than ever. The fight for equality in our multiplexes is going to get more difficult, not easier,” Berlanti said.

Fox 2000 was a definitive home for midsize-budget films that did not rely on intellectual property like the major studios now do — none moreso than Disney, which also owns content engines Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. Fox 2000 was responsible for major one-off cultural moments like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Life of Pi.” It also produced “Love, Simon,” a critically acclaimed coming-out story set in the suburbs of Chicago. It made $66 million worldwide on a $17 million budget.

As Disney focuses on building their streaming product Disney+, many industry insiders wondered what the company would do with an operation like Fox 2000 and its formidable leader Elizabeth Gabler, whose business is hinged on risk.

“Disney merged with Fox last week and in doing so, plans to eliminate Fox 2000,” Berlanti said mournfully. He then recalled his 2001 film “The Broken Hearts Club,” a groundbreaking romantic comedy that followed a group of gay men in Los Angeles. That was financed by Sony Pictures, which didn’t think the movie would get significant support from theaters because of its subject matter, Berlanti said.

“They shuttled it to an arthouse shingle,” Berlanti said of the film’s eventual home in Sony Pictures Classics, where an indie release gave it a fighting chance to become an iconic piece of queer filmmaking. Even without a Fox 2000 to support work like that, Berlanti finds hope in young filmmakers.

“Making movies like ‘Love, Simon’ and the TV shows I’m lucky to be a part of, I get to meet and work with a lot of young people. They are fearless. They are going to keep telling stories until every kid of every race, every gender, and every sexuality gets to go to the movies and watch their own ‘Love, Simon,'” said Berlanti.

Berlanti has an exclusive film directing deal at Fox, though the fate of his and many other overall agreements have not been clarified in the acquisition.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Hannah Minghella

    Bad Robot Poaches TriStar Pictures President Hannah Minghella to Lead Film Unit

    In a surprise announcement Thursday, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot revealed it has lured away Sony Pictures executive Hannah Minghella to lead its film division. Minghella will report to Abrams and Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath. She will oversee both development and production. TriStar executive vice president Nicole Brown will take up the mantle in the [...]

  • Paul Dano arrives at the 71st

    'The Batman': Paul Dano to Play The Riddler

    Paul Dano is in talks to join Robert Pattinson in Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. “The Batman,” sources tell Variety. Though the studio would not confirm the role, insiders believe that Dano would be playing the classic comic book villain The Riddler. Dano’s casting comes on the heels of Jonah Hill turning down an offer [...]

  • Taylor SwiftMTV Video Music Awards, Arrivals,

    Vivendi's Third Quarter Results Up Nearly 17%, UMG Still Rising

    Vivendi saw its third quarter revenues increase by 16.7% to €3.97 billion ($4.4 billion) compared with the third quarter of 2018, once again boosted by the growth of Universal Music Group, while Canal Plus Group remained stable. For the first nine months of 2019, Vivendi’s revenues reached €11.3 billion ($12.5 billion), an increase of 14.6% [...]

  • This-is-Cristina

    FiGa Films Takes Salma Hayek-Exec Produced ‘This is Cristina’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Leading international sales agency-production-distribution company, FiGa Films, has snagged all worldwide rights to “This is Cristina” (“Ella es Cristina”), the directorial debut of Chilean scribe Gonzalo Maza, who has co-written four of Sebastian Lelio’s films, including his Oscar-winning “A Fantastic Woman” and Berlin Festival winner “Gloria.” “It’s a pleasure to collaborate with Gonzalo, whose writing [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    How Bright Bulbs Enabled 'The Lighthouse's' Tough Black-and-White Shoot

    Early in principal photography on “The Lighthouse,” writer-director Robert Eggers asked cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, who was shooting on black-and-white film stock, if he thought they could capture the look they were going for digitally. Blaschke answered no: Digital wouldn’t let them achieve the texture they had in mind — “what we photography nerds would call [...]

  • Plaza Catedral

    Panama’s Abner Benaim Wraps ‘Plaza Catedral’ Starring Mexico’s Ilse Salas (EXCLUSIVE)

    Panama’s internationally best-known helmer, Abner Benaim (“Ruben Blades Is Not My Name”) has just completed the shoot for his second fiction feature film, “Plaza Catedral,” starring Mexico’s Ilse Salas (“The Good Girls”), and Manolo Cardona (“Narcos”). Salas plays a 42-year old grief-stricken woman, Alicia, who has severed her ties with married life and society. Her [...]

  • Mamoudou Athie

    'The Front Runner's' Mamoudou Athie Joins 'Jurassic World 3'

    Mamoudou Athie has joined the cast of the third installment in Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s “Jurassic World” saga. He joins Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, who will reprise their roles from the previous films, as well as Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, who starred in the original mega-hit “Jurassic Park.” Colin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content