20th Century Fox (often abbreviated to Fox) is an American entertainment conglomerate and a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. This article includes Fox UK, the United Kingdom affiliate with regional broadcasting rights to The Orville.
20th Century Fox began as a merger of Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Film in 1935. Twentieth Century's founders Joseph Schenck and Darryl Zanuck had recently left United Artists over a stock dispute, and sought to expand by acquiring the financially struggling Fox Film. Fox Film had just lost several major film stars, including its biggest headliner, Will Rogers, who died in a plane crash. Schenck and Zanuck saw Fox Film as a company with great production studios and better access to theaters, but lacking Twentieth Century's acting talent with strong public appeal.
In 1949, 20th Century Fox formed a new production division, TCF Television Productions Inc., at a time when major studios were branching into home television. The name lasted until 1989, when TCF became Twentieth Television, and later changed to 20th Century Fox Television. From 1989 till 1994, Twentieth Television was owned by News Corporation in order to distance the television studios from Fox's movie studios.
Starting with the show Family Guy in 1999, 20th Century Fox Television produced television shows created by Seth MacFarlane for decades on the Fox network, including the spinoffs American Dad! and The Cleveland Show, the educational program Cosmos: A Space Odyssey, and the sitcom Dads.
On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to purchase the nearly all 21st Century Fox entertainment assets, including 20th Century Fox, for $52.4 billion. The buyout officially completed March 19, 2019.
On April, 2016, MacFarlane approached Fox with a pilot script for The Orville, an episodic science-fiction television show in the line of Star Trek and Lost in Space. Dana Walden, co-chairman of Fox, recalled receiving his pitch. He felt while Ed Mercer swore too frequently in the first draft, there was "a really broad, fundamental idea at the center of his story that could work for broadcast TV. [MacFarlane] was dealing with subject matter that was very much about current issues, and it felt like the kind of show that would create water-cooler buzz, which doesn’t happen as much these days."
Fox ordered a single season of thirteen episodes. The series was largely designed to be a lighthearted "dramedy;" its pilot episode relied heavily on humor, and the show was advertised chiefly to American audiences for its comedic elements.
Walden and Gary Newman, CEO of Fox, released a joint statement at the time of contract:
For almost two decades, we’ve enjoyed an incredible collaboration with our partner and friend Seth MacFarlane. He’s one of the smartest, funniest and most talented people we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – a great guy who’s also had such an impact on both television and popular culture. Seth has one of the most original voices – in every sense of the word – and we’ve been waiting for him to bring us a project as special as this one. It’s classic Seth – fresh and funny, incredibly smart, wickedly subversive and undeniably FOX.The Orville's first episode Old Wounds aired on September 10, 2017, to strong ratings, which the show maintained through the season, and Fox quickly renewed the show for a second on November 2, 2017.
Fox UK Edit
Fox UK is a related subsidiary with broadcasting rights to The Orville in the United Kingdom. Fox UK aired Season 1 starting with Old Wounds on December 14, 2017, well after the United States concluded the season, and ended with Mad Idolatry on March 1, 2018.
The scheduling delay between Fox and Fox UK was shortened for Season 2, roughly one week after the United States premiere of each episode, with several differences:
- In light of a two-week wait between Blood of Patriots and Lasting Impressions and the three-week wait for Sanctuary in the United States, Fox UK was forced to put The Orville on a three-week hiatus between Blood of Patriots and Lasting Impressions.
- Most notably, Fox UK aired a highly revealing promotional trailer for The Road Not Taken which showed the episode's alternate timeline setting, the return of the Kaylon, and guest appearance of Alara Kitan (Halston Sage).
- 20th Century Fox originally owned the FOX network during the majority of The Orville's first season. However, due to the acquisition from the Walt Disney Company not covering any broadcasting networks, this is no longer the case.