In earlyUniversal had been negotiating deals with cartoon producers since they wanted to get back into producing them. The films enjoyed a successful theatrical run, and Mintz would sign a contract with Universal ensuring three more years of Oswald cartoons.
Disney and Iwerks would create Mickey Mouse in secret while they finished the remaining Oswald films they were contractually obligated to finish. Universal subsequently severed its link to Mintz and formed its own in-house animation studio to produce Oswald cartoons headed by Walter Lantz.
Universal retained ownership of the remaining Oswald cartoons. InLaemmle, Sr. Universal already had a reputation for nepotism —at one time, 70 of Carl, Sr. Many of them were nephews, resulting in Carl, Sr. He bought and built theaters, converted the studio to sound production, and made several forays into high-quality production. His early efforts included the critically panned part-talkie version of Edna Ferber 's novel Show Boatthe lavish musical Broadway which included Technicolor sequences; and the first all-color musical feature for UniversalKing of Jazz Laemmle, Jr.
Universal's forays into high-quality production spelled the end of the Laemmle era at the studio. Taking on the task of modernizing and upgrading a film conglomerate in the depths of the depression was risky, and for a time Universal slipped into receivership. The theater chain was scrappedbut Carl, Jr. The end for the Laemmles came with a lavish version of Show Boata remake of its earlier part-talkie production, and produced as a high-quality, big-budget film rather than as a B-picture. The new film featured several stars from the Broadway stage version, which began production in lateand unlike the film was based on the Broadway musical rather than the novel.
Carl, Jr. They would not allow production to start on Show Boat unless the Laemmles obtained a loan. It was the first time Universal had borrowed money for a production in its year history.
Although Universal's Show Boat released a little over a month later became a critical and financial success, it was not enough to save the Laemmles' involvement with the studio. They were unceremoniously removed from the company they had founded. Standard Capital's J. Cheever Cowdin had taken over as president and chairman of the board of directors, and instituted severe cuts in production budgets.
Joining him were British entrepreneurs C. Woolf and J. Arthur Rankwho bought a significant stake in the studio. Meanwhile, producer Joe Pasternakwho had been successfully producing light musicals with young sopranos for Universal's German subsidiary, repeated his formula in America.
The film was a box-office hit and reputedly resolved the studio's financial problems. The success of the film led Universal to offer her a contract, which for the first five years of her career produced her most successful pictures. When Pasternak stopped producing Durbin's pictures, and she outgrew her screen persona and pursued more dramatic roles, the studio Crystal Rose - Magic (8) - Skydance (Vinyl year-old Gloria Jean for her own series of Pasternak musicals from ; she went on to star with Bing CrosbyW.
Fieldsand Donald O'Connor. By the early s, the company was concentrating on lower-budget productions that were the company's main staple: westerns, melodramas, serials and sequels to the studio's horror pictures, the latter now solely B pictures. Universal could seldom afford its own stable of stars, and often borrowed talent from other studios, or hired freelance actors.
In addition to Stewart and Dietrich, Margaret Sullavanand Bing Crosby were two of the major names that made a couple of pictures for Universal during this period. Some stars came from radio, including Edgar BergenW. Abbott and Costello's military comedy Buck Privates gave the former burlesque comedians a national and international profile.
During the war years, Universal did have a co-production arrangement with producer Walter Wanger and his partner, director Fritz Langlending the studio Crystal Rose - Magic (8) - Skydance (Vinyl amount of prestige productions. Universal's core audience base was still found in the neighborhood movie theatersand the studio continued to please the public with low- to medium-budget films.
As Universal's main product had always been lower-budgeted films, it was one of the last major studios to have a contract with Technicolor. Technicolor was also utilised for the studio's remake of their horror melodrama, Phantom of the Opera with Claude Rains and Nelson Eddy.
With the success of their first two pictures, a regular schedule of high-budget, Technicolor films followed. InJ. Arthur Rank, who already owned a stake in the studio since almost a decade before, hoping to expand his American presence, bought into a four-way merger with Universal, the independent company International Pictures, and producer Kenneth Young.
The new combine, United World Pictures, was a failure and was dissolved within one year. Rank and International remained interested in Universal, however, culminating in the studio's reorganization as Universal-International; the merger was announced on July 30, Goetz, a son-in-law of Louis B. Mayer decided to bring "prestige" to the new company. He stopped the studio's low-budget production of B moviesserials and curtailed Universal's horror and " Arabian Nights " cycles.
He also reduced the studio's output from its wartime average of fifty films per year which was nearly twice the major studio's output to thirty-five films a year. Goetz set out an ambitious schedule. Universal-International became responsible for the American distribution of Rank's British productions, including such classics as David Lean 's Great Expectations and Laurence Olivier 's Hamlet Broadening its scope further, Universal-International branched out into the lucrative non-theatrical field, buying a majority stake in home-movie dealer Castle Films inand taking the company over entirely in For three decades, Castle would offer "highlights" reels from the Universal film library to home-movie enthusiasts and collectors.
Goetz licensed Universal's pre—Universal-International film library to Jack Broeder's Realart Pictures for cinema re-release but Realart was not allowed to show the films on television. The production arm of the studio still struggled. While there were to be a few hits like The Killers and The Naked CityUniversal-International's new theatrical films often met with disappointing response at the box office. By the late s, Goetz was out, and the studio returned to low-budget and series films such as Ma and Pa Kettlea spin off of the studio's hit The Egg and I and The inexpensive Francisthe first film of a series about a talking mule, became mainstays of the company.
Once again, the films of Abbott and Costello, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankensteinwere among the studio's top-grossing productions. But at this point Rank lost interest and sold his shares to the investor Milton Rackmilwhose Decca Records would take full control of Universal in Besides Abbott and Costello, the studio retained the Walter LP) cartoon studio, whose product was released with Universal-International's films.
The studio also had a success with monster and science fiction films produced by William Allandwith many directed by Jack Arnold and starring John Agar. Other successes were the melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk and produced by Ross Hunteralthough for film critics they were not so well thought of on first release as they have since become.
Although Decca would continue to keep picture budgets lean, it was favored by changing circumstances in the film business, as other studios let their contract actors go in the wake of the U. Paramount Pictures, et al. Leading actors were increasingly free to work where and when they chose, and in MCA agent Lew Wasserman made a deal with Universal for his client James Stewart that would change the rules of the business. Wasserman's deal gave Stewart a share in the profits of three pictures in lieu of a large salary.
When one of those films, Winchester '73proved to be a hit, the arrangement would become the rule for many future productions at Universal, and eventually at other studios as well. In the early s, Universal set up its own distribution company in Franceand in the late s, the company also started a production company in ParisUniversal Productions France S.
It was only involved in approximately 20 French film productions. In the early s, the unit was incorporated into the French Cinema International Corporation arm. By the late s, the motion picture business was again changing. The Music Corporation of America MCAthe world's largest talent agency, had also become a powerful television LP), renting space at Republic Studios for its Revue Productions subsidiary.
After a period of complete shutdown, a moribund Universal agreed to sell its acre 1. MCA owned the studio lot, but not Universal Pictures, yet was increasingly influential on Universal's product. The company reverted in name to Universal Pictures from Universal-International. As a final gesture before leaving the talent agency business, virtually every MCA client was signed to a Universal contract.
And so, with MCA in charge, Universal became a full-blown, A-film movie studio, with leading actors and directors under contract; offering slick, commercial films; and a studio tour subsidiary launched in Television production made up much of the studio's output, with Universal heavily committed, in particular, to deals with NBC which much later merged with Universal to form NBC Universal; see below providing up to half of all prime time shows for several seasons.
An innovation during this period championed by Universal was the made-for-television movie. At this time, Hal B. Walliswho had recently worked as a major producer at Paramount, moved over to Universal, where he produced several films, among them a lavish version of Maxwell Anderson 's Anne of the Thousand Daysand the equally lavish Mary, Queen of Scots Wallis retired from Universal after making the film Rooster Cogburna sequel to True Gritwhich Wallis had produced at Paramount.
Rooster Cogburn co-starred John Waynereprising his Oscar-winning role from the earlier film, and Katharine Hepburntheir only film together. The film was only a moderate success.
Although Universal did produce occasional hits, among them AirportThe StingAmerican Graffiti alsoEarthquakeand a big box-office success which restored the company's fortunes: JawsUniversal during the decade was primarily a television studio. UIP began distributing films by start-up studio DreamWorks indue to connections the founders have with Paramount, Universal, and Amblin Entertainment. InMGM dropped out of the UIP venture and went with 20th Century Fox 's international arm to handle distribution of their titles, an arrangement which remains ongoing.
Anxious to expand the company's broadcast and cable presence, longtime MCA head Lew Wasserman sought a rich partner. Hoping to build an entertainment empire around Universal, Seagram bought PolyGram in and other entertainment properties, but the fluctuating profits characteristic of Hollywood were no substitute for the reliable income stream gained from the previously held shares in DuPont.
To raise money, Seagram head Edgar Bronfman Jr. Between latewhen RCA 's David Sarnoff engineered the creation of the RKO Radio-Keith-Orpheum studio, and the end ofwhen Paramount divested its theater chain—roughly the period considered Hollywood's Golden Age—there were eight Hollywood studios commonly regarded as the "majors".
The remaining majors were sometimes referred to as the "Little Three" or "major minor" studios. The third of the lesser majors, United Artists founded inowned a few theaters and had access to production facilities owned by its principals, but it functioned primarily as a backer-distributor, loaning money to independent producers and releasing their films.
During the s, the eight majors averaged a total of feature film releases a year; in the s, the four largest companies shifted more of their resources toward high-budget productions and away from B moviesbringing the yearly average down to for the decade. Among the significant characteristics of the Golden Age was the stability of the Hollywood majors, their hierarchy, and their near-complete domination of the box office.
The end of the Golden Age had been signaled by the majors' loss of a federal antitrust case that led to the divestiture of the Big Five's theater chains. Though this had virtually no immediate effect on the eight majors' box-office domination, it somewhat leveled the playing field between the Big Five and the Little Three. By the time Hughes sold it to the General Tire and Rubber Company inthe studio was a major by outdated reputation alone.
Invirtually all RKO movie operations ceased and the studio was dissolved in Revived on a small scale init was eventually spun off and now operates as a minor independent company. In contrast, there was United Artists, which had long operated under the financing-distribution model the other majors were now progressively shifting toward. Despite RKO's collapse, the majors still averaged a total yearly release slate of feature films during the decade.
The s were marked by a spate of corporate takeovers. MCA Inc. MGM, in the process of a slow decline, changed ownership twice in the same span as well, winding up in the hands of financier Kirk Kerkorian. The majors almost entirely abandoned low-budget production during this era, bringing the annual average of features released down to Over the following three decades Disney became a powerful independent focusing on animation and, from the late s, an increasing number of live-action movies.
In its first year, Buena Vista had a major success with 20, Leagues Under the Seathe third biggest movie of InBuena Vista had its first blockbuster, Mary PoppinsHollywood's biggest hit in half a decade. The early s were difficult years for all the classic majors. Movie attendance, which had been declining steadily since the end of the Golden Age, hit an all-time low by Aubrey drastically downsized the studio, slashing its production schedule and eliminating its distribution arm UA would distribute the studio's films for the remainder of the decade.
From fifteen releases inthe next year MGM was down to five; its average for the rest of the s would be even lower. MGM, however, was not the only studio to trim its release line. However, Disney began to get a major status through a resurgence in its animated movies with The Rescuers and entering the adult market with The Black Hole By the mids, the industry had rebounded and a significant philosophical shift was in progress. As the majors focused increasingly on the development of the next hoped-for blockbuster and began routinely opening each new movie in many hundreds of theaters an approach called "saturation booking"their collective yearly release average fell to 81 films during — The studio was sold the following year to Kerkorian, who merged it with MGM.
After a brief resurgence, the combined studio continue to decline. Meanwhile, a new member was finally admitted to the club of major studios and two significant contenders emerged. It was announced optimistically as the "first major new film company in 50 years". InRupert Murdoch 's News Corporation acquired 20th Century-Fox, the last of the five relatively healthy Golden Age majors to remain independent throughout the entire Golden Age and after.
Bythe combined share of the six classic majors—at that point Paramount, Warner Bros. Disney was in third place, behind only Paramount and Warner Bros. Orion, now completely independent of Warner Bros. In the Crystal Rose - Magic (8) - Skydance (Vinyl edition of Finler's The Hollywood Storyhe wrote, "It will be interesting to see whether the old-established studios will be able to bounce back in the future, as they have done so many times before, or whether the newest developments really do reflect a fundamental change in the US movie industry for the first times since the 20s.
The purchase of 20th Century Fox by Rupert Murdoch 's News Corporation presaged a new round of corporate acquisitions. Between andParamount, Warner Bros. Warner Communications merged with Time Inc. Coca-Cola sold Columbia to Japanese electronics firm Sony also in By the early s, both Tri-Star and Orion were essentially out of business: the former consolidated into Columbia, the latter bankrupt and sold to MGM.
The most important contenders to emerge during the s, New Line CinemaMiramaxand DreamWorks SKGwere likewise sooner or later brought into the majors' fold, though DreamWorks and Miramax are now independent again. The development of in-house pseudo-indie subsidiaries by the conglomerates—sparked by the establishment of Sony Pictures Classics and the success of Pulp FictionMiramax's first project under Disney ownership—significantly undermined the position of the true independents.
The majors' release schedule rebounded: the six primary studio subsidiaries alone put out a total of films during ; the three largest secondary subsidiaries New Line, Fox Searchlight, and Focus Features accounted for another Box-office domination was fully restored: inthe six major movie conglomerates combined for Only one of the major studios changed corporate hands during the first decade of the s, though it did so three times: Universal was acquired by Vivendi inand then by General Electric four years later.
More developments took place among the majors' subsidiaries. The very successful animation production house Pixarwhose films were distributed by Buena Vista, was acquired by Disney in Time Warner also announced that it would be shutting down its two specialty units, Warner Independent and Picturehouse. In January Disney closed down Miramax's operations and sold off the unit and its library that July to an investor group led by Ronald N. Since June 14,Warner Bros.
The two companies previously merged in but split in The deal was completed on December 4, The eight major film studios of the Golden Age have gone through the following significant ownership changes "independent" meaning customarily identified as the primary commercial entity in its corporate structure; "purchased" meaning acquired anything from majority to total ownership :.
Note: This doesn't include Walt Disney Pictures then Walt Disney Productions which was primarily an animation studio at the time and also the only studio owned by the same conglomerate since its founding. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Film production and distribution company with high output.
Walt Disney Studios. Universal Pictures. Sony Pictures. Paramount Pictures. Sony Pictures Classics. Nickelodeon Movies Paramount Players. Amblin Entertainment DreamWorks Pictures. Gaumont Film Company . Further information: Studio system. Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. Universal Studios in Universal City, California.
Columbia Pictures in Culver City, California. Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. Further information: Columbia Pictures. Further information: Warner Bros. Further information: Paramount Pictures. Further information: Universal Pictures.
Further information: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Further information: United Artists. Further information: 20th Century Studios. Further information: RKO Pictures. New York: Random House. ISBN In Buckland, Warren ed. Retrieved August 16, Alibaba Pictures is investing in Amblin Partners and has entered into a strategic partnership with the mini-major for co-productions, finance and distribution.
Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 29, Retrieved January 10, Television Staff Up L. Retrieved Crystal Rose - Magic (8) - Skydance (Vinyl 5, Gaumont International Television, the French mini-major's L. Retrieved September 5, Retrieved August 9, Retrieved September 3, Smith Shingle to the Summit". Retrieved July 11, Constantin, which owns a minority stake in Mister Smith. Retrieved 28 October Experience, Inc. Page University of California Press. Deadline Hollywood.
Retrieved 7 August The Los Angeles Times. BBC News. March 20, Retrieved March 20, Rutgers University Press. Retrieved November 18, Studio System News.
Archived from the original on September 2, Artisan Home Entertainment, a division of mini-major Artisan Entertainment, has upped Jed Grossman to senior vice president, rental sales and distribution. Film Journal International. September 1, Archived from the original on 24 October Retrieved 10 January Retrieved October 4, The Daily Times.
Salisbury, Maryland. Retrieved May 11, Fox sold its shares of First National to Warner Bros. The Film Daily. January 3, Retrieved December 26, San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 20, Hollywood Reporter. The Wrap. The Walt Disney Company. December 14, Archived from the original on July 31, Retrieved January 14, July 27, Retrieved March 12, June 15, Retrieved December 4, Retrieved August 19, January 17, Retrieved January 19, Retrieved May 27, The Information.
The Guardian. Film studios in the United States and Canada. List of American animation studios. Film genres. Hidden categories: Webarchive template wayback links Pages containing links to subscription-only content Articles with short description Short description matches Wikidata Wikipedia semi-protected pages Commons category link is locally defined.
Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read View source View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file. Download as PDF Printable version. Walt Disney Pictures 20th Century Studios. October 16, May 31, Pictures New Line Cinema. April 4, June 18, NBCUniversal Comcast. April 30, Sony Pictures Sony. Columbia Pictures TriStar Pictures. January 10,  March 2, May 8, Lionsgate   . July 10, Amblin Partners .
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