The Big 6: Warner Bros

In my 15 or so years of movie going, I have seen the following names many, many times.

When the opening credits roll you normally see a variation of the following: name of the production studio, name of the producer, name of the director, who is starring and the title of the film. Before all of that, however, you normally see the name of the movie studio.

Wikipedia provides this explanation of a movie studio: “A movie studio (aka film studio or simply studio) is, in the established sense of the term, a company that distributes motion pictures. Literally, however, the term denotes a controlled environment for the making of a motion picture.”

In the USA there is ‘the Big 6’ – the six major movie studios. I have compiled a (very) brief history of each company plus a list of upcoming releases. First up, Warner Bros Pictures with information courtesy of the company’s website.

Warner Bros Pictures

History: A subsidiary of Time Warner, its headquarters are in Burbank, California and New York City. Warner Bros has several subsidiary companies, including Warner Bros Animation, Warner Home Video, New Line Cinema, TheWB.com and DC Comics.

It was founded in 1918 as Warner Bros West Coast Studios and in 1923 as Warner Bros Pictures. The founders were Jack, Harry, Albert and Sam Warner.

The first important deal for the company was the acquisition of the rights to Avery Hopwood’s 1919 Broadway play, The Gold Diggers, from theatrical impresario David Belasco. However, it was a dog, Rin Tin Tin, brought from France after WWI by an American soldier that brought the company its first success. Rin Tin Tin debuted in the short Where the North Begins. The short was so successful Jack Warner agreed to sign the dog to star in more short films for $1,000 per week.

Skip forward a few years, to 1926, and the company was a pioneer of synchronized sound – then known as ‘talking pictures’. The Warners signed a contract with the sound engineer company Western Electric and established Vitaphone.

In 1928, the company bought The Stanley Company of America for its theatre chain, which included a third ownership of First National Pictures. Later that year, it purchased the rest of First National, acquiring a newly built studio in Burbank, which remains the home of Warner Bros Studios.

Let’s skip forward a few decades to the 1970s and the release of such landmark films as Woodstock, A Clockwork Orange, Klute, Dirty Harry and The Exorcist. Beginning in December of 1980, under the new leadership of Robert A Daly and Terry Semel, Warner Bros made artistic and box-office history with such films as the Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire, The Mission, Empire of the Sun and Full Metal Jacket.

At the box office in the 1990s, Warner Bros continued to break records. Driving Miss Daisy won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Screenplay in 1989. Skip forward to the Noughties and the beginning of the Harry Potter series.

2004 was a history-making year for the company. Warner Bros Pictures had its most successful year ever, with $3.41 billion in worldwide box office, which included $2.19 billion in overseas receipts, marking the first time a studio crossed the $2 billion mark internationally in a single year. Year after year more records were set and in 2009 the company had a record-breaking worldwide box office of $4.01 billion.

Upcoming releases: The Hangover: Part II, Green Lantern, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, New Year’s Eve, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit: Part 1.

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