Fox is creating a new division, FoxNext, that will work with both the studio’s TV and film units to oversee video gaming, virtual and augmented reality productions and location-based entertainment like theme parks, and the company has named Salil Mehta to serve as its president.
Mehta, who most recently had served as president of content management for Twentieth Century Fox Film, will step into the new post immediately and will report to both Peter Rice, chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, and Stacey Snider, chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Film.
FoxNext, according to an announcement released today, has emerged from the Fox Innovation Lab, which launched Fox’s first commercial VR endeavor, 2016’s The Martian VR Experience. Mehta will join in the management of the Fox Innovation Lab as it broadens its purview to support all of 21st Century Fox. FoxNext will also work closely on film studio projects with an advisory board consisting of Fox film executives Ted Gagliano, David Greenbaum and Mike Dunn.
FoxNext will oversee the production of studio franchise VR experiences, such as the already announced Alien and Planet of the Apes productions, while looking to commercialize Fox’s overall VR strategy. It will also combine the efforts of the video gaming groups responsible for as The Simpsons: Tapped Out mobile game and the Alien: Isolation console/PC game into one new interactive unit. It will also oversee the company’s location-based entertainment business, including the development of the 20th Century Fox World theme park in Malaysia.
“Extending our storytelling to new platforms in new ways is a constant focus for us as we look to build more touch points with consumers every day. Building on the momentum we’ve already seen in this area via the Fox Innovation Lab, FoxNext represents a natural next step in defining our long-term vision in this arena,” Snider said in a statement. and Salil is quite simply the perfect executive to build this group into what we know will be an industry leader.”
Reporting to Mehta will be: Rick Phillips, newly appointed executive vp of Fox Interactive; Greg Lombardo, senior vp of Fox Location Based Entertainment; Brendan Handler, senior vp new media and general manager of FoxNext’s VR Studio; and Ted Schilowitz, Fox Futurist, who will also continue to advise Fox Film’s Gagliano on new production technologies.
Prior to joining Fox in 2013, Mehta held a number of senior executive roles at NBCUniversal, where he most recently served as COO of the company’s unit that included entertainment cable networks Bravo, Oxygen and Style; the Spanish-language broadcast network, Telemundo; and NBCUniversal’s digital assets, including Fandango and Daily Candy.