While VideoAge is reviewing this year's L.A. Screenings in this Issue, the talk in Los Angeles is already turning to next year's L.A. Screenings, in light of Fox Studios' imminent merger with Disney.
Even though the merger will mostly affect Fox's production and content distribution sectors, the Intercontinental Hotel will face some repercussions, too. The hotel houses the indies that exhibit at the L.A. Screenings, and its managers need to know which dates in May of 2019 NATPE and Events TM (which jointly coordinate the event for the indies) should reserve a block of rooms.
Pre-Disney, Fox used to start its screenings for the LATAM contingent on a Thursday--the same day that the Upfronts ended in New York City. It also marked the conclusion of the indie screenings that began the previous Tuesday (with the setting up of the exhibiting suites taking place a day earlier).
With Disney now in the picture, however, observers predict that the Fox LATAM screenings will be incorporated into Disney's LATAM screenings, which will take place the following Wednesday. This is said to be partly in order to avoid confusion among the international buyers and partly because Fox Studios is not expected to produce as many new series for the FOX TV network, which will remain in Rupert Murdoch's hands, outside the Disney-Fox deal. Naturally, and expectedly for legal reasons, the official Fox line is that they are planning for the L.A. Screenings as usual.
If this scenario plays out, the screenings for the indies will start on Wednesday, May 15 (with setup day being Tuesday) and will end on Saturday, May 18, when the studios will begin their traditional schedule, which will continue up until Friday, May 24.
Ironically, under this scenario, Fox will go from the complete dominance of a Thursday date, as happened this year, with full-day screenings followed by a party for retiring LATAM content sales executive Elie Wahba that evening (in addition to an extravagant gala held the following Thursday), to possible obscurity next year.
Giving credence to this scenario is the August 2,2018 Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, California, where FOX Television Group co-chairman Dana Waiden told reporters that her network (referred to as "New FOX") will be helped by making programming decisions that are not dictated by whether a series is owned by its studio.
"It will be the only network to operate with complete independence," Waiden said, adding that...