Not-so-hot ‘Fantastic Four’ drags on Fox earnings

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“Fantastic Four” was not so fantastic for 21st Century Fox, as a weak performance by the superhero film dragged on the earnings of media-entertainment giant.

The conglomerate created by mogul Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday reported profits in the past quarter slid 35 percent from a year ago to $675 million, while revenues dipped 6.3 percent to $6.08 billion.

Murdoch, who has handed the chief executive job to one of his sons but retains the title of executive chairman, said the film based on the Marvel superhero comic failed to deliver the box office results compared with a year ago, when it had a hit with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Murdoch said the company was helped by strong results from its cable television operations and was making “good progress” at its Fox television properties.

But he noted that the results for the fiscal quarter to September 30 “also reflect the expected impact of challenging comparisons for our film studio due to the timing of key releases, as well as the poor performance of ‘The Fantastic Four,'” which was panned by critics and had weak box office receipts.

Murdoch said Fox was upbeat about some of its other productions including the science fiction thriller “The Martian” and the upcoming drama “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence.

“We are pleased with the recent success of ‘The Martian,’ and as we look forward, we have an exciting film slate which includes this weekend’s ‘The Peanuts Movie, the holiday release of ‘Joy,’ as well as the summer releases of the newest X-Men and Independence Day,” he said in the earnings statement.

“We are focused on creating compelling storytelling and enhancing the customer experience of our digital video brands as we respond to changing consumer preferences.”

The company’s Hollywood studio operations saw revenues drop 28 percent from a year ago to $1.79 billion. But revenues were steady in television and up slightly at the cable network programming unit.

Murdoch in 2013 split his empire into two separate entities, 21st Century Fox and News Corp, which kept the newspapers and other publishing assets that had been a drag on earnings.

His family remains in control of both firms. He and his son Lachlan are co-executive chairman at Fox and his son James is chief executive. At News Corp.the 84-year-old Murdoch holds the same role of executive chairman with his son Lachlan.

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