Twentieth Century Pictures

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This article is about the film studio prior to the 1935 merger. For the company after its merger with Fox Films, see 20th Century Fox. For other uses, see 20th century (disambiguation).
Twentieth Century Pictures
Industry Film
Fate Merged with Fox Film Corporation
Successor 20th Century Fox
Founded 1932
Founder Joseph Schenck
Defunct 1935

Twentieth Century Pictures was an independent Hollywood motion picture production company created in 1932 by Joseph Schenck (the former president of United Artists) and Darryl F. Zanuck from Warner Bros.. Financial backing came from Schenck's younger brother Nicholas Schenck, president of Loew's, the theater chain that owned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and from Louis B. Mayer of MGM, who wanted a position for his son-in-law, William Goetz. The company product was distributed by United Artists (UA), and leased space at Samuel Goldwyn Studios.[1]

Schenck was President of Twentieth Century, while Zanuck was named Production Chief and Goetz and Raymond Griffith served as vice-presidents. Their initial stars under contract were George Arliss, Constance Bennett, and Loretta Young; however the Goetz connection meant that talent could be borrowed from MGM. The company was successful right from the very beginning—out of their first 18 films only one, Born to Be Bad—was not a financial success.[2] Their 1934 production, The House of Rothschild was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1935, they produced the classic film Les Misérables, from Victor Hugo's novel, which was also nominated for Best Picture.

In the winter of 1934, Zanuck began negotiate with the UA board to acquire stock of the company and become a board member, but became outraged by UA's co-founder Mary Pickford's refusal to reward Twentieth Century with the company's stock, fearing it would have diluted the value of holdings by another UA stockholder and co-founder, D.W. Griffith. Schenck, who had been a UA stockholder for over ten years, resigned from United Artists in protest of the shoddy treatment of Twentieth Century, and Zanuck; thus began discussions with other distributors, which led to talks with the bankrupt Fox Studios in the early spring of 1935.

Twentieth Century Picturess merged with Fox Studios to form 20th Century-Fox (the hyphen was dropped in 1985) in 1935. For many years, 20th Century Fox claimed to have been founded in 1915. For instance, it marked 1945 as its 30th anniversary. However, in recent years it has claimed the 1935 merger as its founding.[3]



  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (January 2002). Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. 
  2. ^ Gussow, Mel (1971). Darryl F. Zanuck: "Don't Say Yes Until I Finish Talking". Da Capo. p. 60. 
  3. ^ Is Fox really 75 this year? Somewhere, the fantastic Mr. (William) Fox begs to differ. New York Post, 2010-02-10.