No don’t worry, this isn’t another Watchmen lawsuit-esque case where the big bad head honchos at 20th Century Fox are trying to screw over an industry rival – this is Fox simply scrapping a subsidiary company. Apparently, the marketing arm/branch of Atomic was already absorbed into the parent Fox company, thus deeming Atomic as “vulnerable.”

The independent branch company of 20th Century Fox was set up in 2007 by Peter Rice and was created to focus on comedy and genre films, often taking the form of grizzly horrors (such as Turistas, The Hills Have Eyes II and 28 Weeks Later). Debbie Liebling was made head of the company but she won’t have to worry about looking for another exec position – She’ll be carried over into 20th Century Fox where she’ll continue to help develop the comedies and genre films that she has been doing for the last couple of years.

The movies Atomic focused on originally were taken care of by the overall 20th Century Fox company, but because of Liebling showing flare for small comedies (such as Dodgeball and Borat), she was given the responsibility of heading the newly created Fox Atomic. The company was created in hopes of getting more of these types of movies made and with more focus spent on this specific genre, this would give them more of a chance to produce a lot more successes than before.

In case you’re wondering, all projects that were in the pipeline, either in development or in post-production, will still go ahead under the larger 20th Century Fox brand. Just for kicks, here’s a list of movies that were reportedly being made under the Fox Atomic name:

  • Jennifer’s Body
  • I Love You, Beth Cooper
  • Accidentes
  • Brad Cutter Ruined My Life
  • Ninja Gold
  • Don’t Lean on Me
  • 28 Months Later
  • Harvey and Marky: A True Story of Friendship and Betrayal
  • Fishing on the Edge
  • The Post Grad Survival Guide
  • The Entity
  • Incurable
  • Fathom

Our good friends over at /Film remind us that the company even owned the rights to a movie adaptation of the successful Grand Theft Auto video game series, but something tells me that was unlikely to get made any time soon, even if this company wasn’t folding…

Although the actual studio itself “couldn’t be reached for comment,” which is very convenient, this seems very likely to happen. The speculation that’s going around is that the side company simply wasn’t producing enough hits to warrant its continued existence. To put it bluntly, with such films as Turistas (making only $14 million worldwide… ouch, almost as bad as the quality of the movie… almost…) The Hills Have Eyes II (making $37 million worldwide, almost half what the first one made) and The Rocker (making an abysmal $8 million worldwide, half of what it cost to make) all under-performing.

Although Liebling won’t be losing her job, instead having a nice comfy seat amongst the big guys, this will probably won’t be such good news for many others who will quietly go unnamed by either the closing studio or 20th Century Fox. Even if it makes sense from a business standpoint for Fox to close down Atomic because it’s no longer worth the while either financially or hassle-wise, the closure of any company is never good for the more ground-level employees.

If this turns out to be completely true and the shutting down of Atomic goes ahead, which I’m sure I’m not the only one who suspects it will, although it would be good in some ways for Fox (one being purely they don’t have to worry about the cost of having another company on the go), it may not be such a good thing for them in the long run. Not only would there be the expenses of shutting down a company right off the bat, but it might even hinder the production capacity of the studio, especially on the genre of movies Atomic focused specifically on.

What do you make Fox Atomic most likely being shut down by 20th Century Fox? Should they keep the company going so that it can focus on the smaller comedies and horrors or is it best just to have those under the larger Fox name?

Source: Variety and /Film

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