With Planet of the Apes, Disney Proves That It’s Barely Cashing in on 21st Century Fox's Vault

The late release of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes shines on light on 21st Century Fox’s underexploited catalog.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
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Disney has many valuable brands within its portfolio that are easy to identify. They make up some of hallmark offerings of Disney+, which brings together various shows and movies from across the company under one roof, such as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and traditional animation. However, there's still much more in Disney's empire that doesn't get a lot of attention.

One of these gems is National Geographic. The storied brand has its own channel on Disney+, where you can watch documentaries on almost any topic under the sun. 21st Century Fox, bought by Disney in 2017, is another example. It was acquired by the House of Mouse for a very clear reason: its franchises. 

In another case, there's the part of Marvel that lives outside of the spotlight, which just so happens to house the X-Men and the Fantastic Four movies. This part of Marvel has been hanging around since the days when the label licensed its characters to other production companies before it started to produce its own films. After a long interlude, these franchises are finally front and center at Marvel again with Deadpool & Wolverine later this year and a new Fantastic Four movie in 2025.

There's also The Simpsons, a Fox TV series (like Futurama) that's still on the air and generates substantial profits for the platform. Or, of course, Avatar, which achieved so much success with its sequel that it even surprised Disney executives. 

And finally, there's The Planet of the Apes saga, a historical franchise that was successfully revived back in 2011—before Fox's acquisition by Disney—with a trilogy of blockbusters by Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves that was very well-received by critics. Years later, the saga is back with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, a kind of sequel/reboot that raises some questions. Why did it take Disney so long to bring it back? What else is in store?

So Much Fox for So Few Movies

The late revival of Planet of the Apes places the spotlight on other franchises in Fox’s repository. For years, the company enjoyed a considerable reputation as a fantasy factory. One example of its skill in this genre is Alien, another Fox property that Disney's capitalizing on unusually late with Alien: Romulus. To put the "unusually" into perspective, this is a company that's managed to release four films and five shows related to its blockbuster brands in a single year.

The latest chapter in the Alien saga is returning to the big screen seven years after Alien: Covenant, the last release in the series.

Strangely, Disney hasn’t moved to recover other stories that have been paralyzed for years, which would benefit from a refresh in the form of reboots or sequels. Again, we're considering Disney's policy in this regard, not talking about A24. Here are some of the sagas and brands that Disney might consider reviving in the future:

  • The Fly: No new releases since 1989.
  • Dr. Dolittle: No new releases since 2009, although that’s not surprising. The Robert Downey Jr. movie was a fiasco.
  • The Omen: Just released a fabulous new movie, although it had been dead for years. The reboot got no attention at all.
  • Porky's: Did you know that a sequel was made in 2009 for only $500,000 with the sole intention of retaining the rights to the original saga? Well, now you know.
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Revenge of the Nerds: Strangely, we haven’t seen it come back, even with the success of The Big Bang Theory.
  • Predator: Along with Alien, it's perhaps Fox’s most uncharacteristically paralyzed brand.
  • Die Hard: The excuse is clear.
  • Alien Nation: A cult movie and a cult hit.
  • Home Alone: There was a revival of the franchise in 2022: Home Alone 4.
  • Speed: Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock say they want to bring the franchise back. I don’t know what they're waiting for.
  • Power Rangers: There's a maze of rights here. Plus, a movie that tried to revive the saga didn’t resonate with audiences.
  • Independence Day: Again, it had a recent and unfortunate sequel.
  • 24
  • Ice Age
  • The Transporter
  • 28 Days Later: A new trilogy has just been announced.
  • Garfield: A new movie just came out.
  • The Hills Have Eyes
  • Night at the Museum
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • Taken
  • Dragon Ball
  • The Maze Runner: An upcoming reboot.
  • Kingsman

Now, we’re not saying whether it would be wise for Disney to bring back something like, for instance, Cocoon. Rather, knowing Disney, we wonder why it hasn't already done so. Why bring back Planet of the Apes, a saga that finished on a high note, when there are semi-forgotten but enormously powerful franchises that deserve the same treatment? Maybe we'll find out in the next few years.

Image | Disney

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