It’s been 18 months since Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 20th Century Fox and half-a-year since they dropped “Fox” from 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight brands (leading to labels 20th Century and Searchlight), so it’s not a huge surprise that Disney would also want to rebrand and streamline the business units under its Disney Television Studios umbrella, including the unexpected reappearance of a Disney legacy brand.
The meat-and-potatoes of it is that ABC Studios and its subsidiary ABC Signature (which provides programs for cable and streaming) will combine to form ABC Signature. Fox 21 Television Studios will be renamed Touchstone Television. 20th Century Fox Television will become 20th Television. Since they are now part of the Disney Television Studios umbrella, all of the new divisions have dropped the word “studios.”
Apparently the removal of the Fox name was discussed during the protracted negotiations between Disney and Rupert Murdoch. Disney argued (successfully) that maintaining the Fox name would create brand confusion. (The Fox name also has a ton of unwanted toxicity thanks to its association with the odious cable news outlet Fox News.) Now the word Fox is nowhere to be found on Disney’s portfolio of assets going forward. It’s a Fox-free new era. The changes will go forward on new Disney Television Studios properties effective immediately (classic programming with maintain the original branding).
One of the most exciting elements of this rebrand is the return of the Touchstone brand. Touchstone was a key component of Disney’s efforts, in the early 1980s, to go beyond being a company responsible exclusively for family entertainment. It was created by former CEO Ron Miller, who was also Walt’s son-in-law, who saw the need to rejuvenate the ailing studio. The first Touchstone film, 1984’s Splash, was the most successful movie in the company’s history. Under the leadership of Michael Eisner, Frank Wells and Jeffrey Katzenberg, further emphasis was put on the shingle and a second, even-more-adult-focused brand, Hollywood Pictures, was later introduced. The Touchstone Television banner was introduced a year after the management change at Disney, in 1985, and was quietly retired in 2007. (Bonus Touchstone trivia: a comic book spin-off of Touchstone, called Touchmark Comics, was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but when it was canceled, a number of those titles were taken by editor Karen Berger and became the basis for Vertigo.)
Touchstone’s new incarnation forgoes the original, iconic globe-and-lightning-bold design, instead favoring the very boring typewriter font of Fox 21 Television Studios’ branding (along with the distinctive typewriter sound effect). But hey, it’s just exciting to have anything remotely Touchstone-related in this day and age.
See videos of the new logos in action before and keep an eye out for them debuting on a ton of new shows, including Ratched on Netflix, Big Sky on ABC, Woke on Hulu and Impeachment: American Crime Story and Old Man on FX, Genius: Aretha on Nat Geo and Filthy Rich and Next for Fox and much, much more. Truly the sun never sets on the Disney empire.