INSIDE THE 20TH CENTURY FOX ARCHIVES

As a lifelong movie nerd, I was thrilled to get exclusive access to the 20th Century Fox archives in Los Angeles. Through my strategy work with NYC branding agency Gretel, I was chosen to be the curator of the living installation we’re designing for global media giant 21st Century Fox at their corporate headquarters on 48th & 6th. The show should be ready by December. For the time being, I am Indiana Jones up in this piece, searching warehouses, vaults, archives, storage rooms, databases and broom closets – looking for anything and everything that will tell the story of 21st Century Fox. So far, it’s been a very cool assignment, and I am very grateful to the kind people at 21st and 20th Century Fox for their gracious hospitality.

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These pics were taken in the prop and picture archive, the wardrobe dept, and the research library. Of all of these places, the Research Library was my favorite. These two amazing brainiac researchers soak up every reference book on earth, then collaborate with directors and producers, feeding them ideas and inspiration and solutions for their films. I am envious of their seemingly infinite knowledge, and the fact that they get paid to just geek out all damn day.

*Disclaimer: For legal reasons, I cannot show you the inside of most of these boxes. Anything that could potentially end up in a sequel or reboot (which is just about everything) is off-limits to social media. Once the show is up, however, it becomes public space and all bets are off. So, please excuse the mystery of it all. Also, I grabbed these pics directly from my Instagram, so they’re a little compressed. A thousand apologies.

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Research book for “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951). I didn’t hesitate to break into my best “klaatu barada nikto”, just to let muh fuckaz know who they were dealing with. The book was filled with any illustration imagery they could find relating to spacecrafts. One particular image was near identical to the flying saucer that ended up in the movie.
Insert page notating that word “robot” was first introduced into the lexicon by a Czech avant garde theater company in 1921 in Karel Čapek’s play, “R.U.R.” – which stands for “Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti” aka Rossum’s Universal Robots. As a sci-if geek from day one, I am forever in his debt.

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An incredibly well preserved promotional book from 1934, which went out to individual theaters and distributors to get them excited about the year’s upcoming productions. The ink was so vivid and the paper so crispy it was as if it had been printed yesterday.
Fox stars in 1934 included Warner Baxter (won the best actor Oscar in 1928 for “The Cisco Kid”), Rochelle Hudson (Natalie Wood’s mother in “Rebel Without a Cause”), Stepin Fetchit aka Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, shamefully billed as “The Laziest Man In the World” and the first black actor to become a millionaire, and the new kid on the block, Spencer Tracy.

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From a white box they pulled just for me, labeled “Zanuck Files”. A telegram communique to legendary studio head Darryl Zanuck from his son Dick, discussing his decision to change the title from “Blood and Guts” to simply”Patton”. He hired the then-unknown Francis Coppola to write the script. It went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
For another example of what these guys do here, this is an image from a book of imagery of Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj, whose work was pulled as reference during the design stage of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus”.

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A complete set of original Tom Swift books, considered profoundly influential in science fiction, credited with inspiring O.G.’s Ray Kurzweil, Robert A. Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov – to name a few. The word “taser”, in fact, originates from “TSER”, from the story Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle (1911).
James Watson Webb III was a Fox film editor, social butterfly, and blue blood of the highest order – born heir to both the Vanderbilt and Havermeyer families. His social status made him very popular among Hollywood’s best and brightest of the 40s & 50s. An avid photographer, he took tons of very candid photos of his fabulous life – like this shot of Judy Garland hanging out on his couch. The Research Library had about 10 entire shelves devoted to his photo archive.

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They had pretty much every single issue of Time Magazine ever printed. And Variety. And New York. And the Hollywood Reporter. Etc. Etc.
An inter-office newsletter blurb about young mailroom clerk/story analyst/upstart Roger Corman, who eventually returned, sold his first script at 25, and produced his first feature by 27. He went on to direct 55 films produce another 384. He mentored such greats as Coppola, Ron Howard, Scorsese, and Jonathan Demme – as well as launching the careers of Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, and others.

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