By Alex P. Vidal/ PNS
HOLLYWOOD, California – Bad news to film researchers and historians.
There has been an angry uproar from here since it was reported that 20th Century Fox is “very quietly” shutting its film research after 85 years, reported Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood.
Finke said it is the second- to- last such facility at a Hollywood studio that makes available books, drawing, photographs, scrapbooks, samples and other non-of-a-kind materials.
“Most of the other studio libraries have been closed or sold off, except for the Samuel Goldwyn Research Library, owned and managed by Lilian Michelson and housed on the DreamWorks Animation lot, and Warner’s Library Studio,” Finke explained.
Quoting an insider, Finke added: “This film history used and recycled every day, and also Los Angeles history. Once it goes, it’s gone.”
Finke said she was “especially surprised by this decision because Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman considers himself a film historian (he’s known for those wooden historical monologues on the show Fox Legacy, which airs on the Fox Movie Channel).”
Finke added “the result is a lot of angry library users calling the studio bigwigs ‘soul-less cretins’ and ‘faithless slime'”.
She said Fox issued a “whiney” statement to her on July 2 saying “Contrary to implications, we are passionate about film history and about our Fox history in particular. That’s why we maintain one of the best and mostly costly photo archive departments in the business and keep comprehensive prop, art and film-item archives from our films. That, however, is not what the research library is.
“Rather, it contains a number of general reference, broad-interest books and periodicals, like a public library. That collection will be donated to a proper, curated library at a university or a guild, etc, where the public will have even greater access than they do now.
“The material will be taken care of in a first-class manner. As to the nostalgia that people feel for the days when studios were in many such non-movie-specific businesses, we share it, too, and wish the world were still that way, but it’s a muddling of points to lump this change into laments about lost film history, as it’s not what it is.”
Meanwhile, it reportedly costs between $75,000 and $1 million a year to keep the library open. But what the film community loses is priceless access to archive material by art directors, costume designers and others, lamented Finke.
“I cannot tell you how serious this is to the below-the-line people and creatives around town,” said a source on the Fox who uses the library. “I guess Fox has to tighten its belt or is it a noose?”
Finke said: “So let’s get creative. Rothman’s show Fox Legacy could embrace the library, and maybe even shoot the show there to help underwrite it.”
She calls it a “win-win” situation.