I’ve been reading and re-reading the announcements today about Elizabeth Gabler taking her Fox 2000 staff to Sony Pictures. Everyone’s very happy because Gabler was a popular and smart leader at 20th Century Fox. She made very good movies. When Disney shut Fox2000 down, the movie world was very upset.
But did no one read the fine print? The new deal is being funded by Harper Collins Publishers, which is owned by News Corp, aka Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, who is the cleverest Machiavellian of all, will not go away. He’s also brilliant. So he’s taken a piece of his old company which Disney didn’t want, and he’s used it to invade another movie company. This could just be the beginning, too. There’s been talk of Sony Pictures being for sale for years. Could Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch have an eye on the whole prize?
The announcements say that Gabler will turn Harper Collins releases into movies. True, Fox 2000’s “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly was a Harper Collins/William Morrow release. And “The Hate U Give” was expanded from a book by the same name, also from Harper Collins.
But Harper Collins doesn’t have a better batting average of books into movies than any other big publisher. Indeed, Fox 200o’s movies came from all over publishing. “Breakthrough,” their Christian faith movie with “This is Us” star Chrissy Metz, was not from HC, but a Christian publisher. John Green, who’s had his young adult movies like “The Fault in our Stars” and “Paper Houses” with Fox 2000, is published by Dutton, not a part of Harper Collins but an imprint of Penguin-Random House.
And the ones from HC are not sure shots. Disney just pulled “The Woman in the Window” with Amy Adams from the 2019 release schedule because it wasn’t ready and needs a lot of retooling. And that’s from Harper Collins’ William Morrow label.
No, Harper Collins isn’t funding this deal for Gabler with Sony. It’s News Corp doing the funding. And it’s a slick way for Murdoch to come back into the movie business, through Sony’s back door. Sony’s Tom Rothman helped run Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox, so he knows his way around News Corp. What comes next should be pretty interesting.