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Fox creates VR division, gaming unit

Twentieth Century Fox and Fox Networks Group has created a new division to oversee video-gaming, location-based entertainment and virtual and augmented reality productions under Twentieth Century Fox Film content management chief Salil Mehta.

The new unit, FoxNext, will oversee the production of studio franchise VR experiences such as the already announced Alien and Planet of the Apes productions, and work to commercialise Fox’s overarching VR strategy.

FoxNext will also combine the efforts of the video gaming groups responsible for such hits 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.

Mehta, who joined Fox in 2013 from NBCUniversal, will take up his new role immediately and will report jointly to Peter Rice, chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, and Stacey Snider, chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Film.

FoxNext emerged from the Fox Innovation Lab, which launched the company’s first commercial VR project, The Martian VR Experience, last year. Mehta will join the management of the Fox Innovation Lab as it broadens its remit across all of 21st Century Fox, according to the company.

Making up Mehta’s team, Rick Phillips has been named as executive VP of Fox Interactive, while Greg Lobardo will serve as SVP of Fox Location Based Entertainment. Brendan Handler will work under Mehta as SVP of new media and general manager of FoxNext’s VR Studio, while Ted Schilowitz will serve as Fox Futurist. Schilowitz will also continue to advise Ted Gagliano, president of feature post-production at 20th Century Fox.

“We’re excited by the power of new technologies to drive the art of storytelling forward and we know we’ve only scratched the surface. Salil brings a strategic business vision and a deep understanding of new technologies allowing us toexpand our creative capabilities,” said Rice.

“Extending our storytelling to new platforms in new ways is a constantfocus 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, and Salil is quite simply the perfect executive to build this group into what we know will be an industry leader,” said Snider.