Warner Bros. Entertainment.
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The beginning of this studio and even its’ name is because of the four Warner Brothers. Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner. The three elder brothers began their careers in the exhibition business in 1903, after obtaining a projector. They showed films with this said-projector in the mining and rural towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Within a few years, this led to the showing of films across four states. When World War I came around, all three started to produce pictures and in 1918 and they opened the Warner Bros. Studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Sam and Jack Warner produced the pictures, while Harry and Albert handed the money and distribution in New York. They formally incorporated themselves as Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. in 1923.
The first deal for this brand-new movie company was to acquire the rights to Avery Hopwood’s Broadway play, The Gold Diggers (1919) from David Belasco. But, this didn’t make the studio as famous as it would become. What did the trick was a German Shepherd and you might have heard of him: Rin Tin Tin. He was brought to the United States from France after World War I by an American solider. This pup was so popular, he starred in twenty-six films, first starting with The Man from Hell’s River (1924). He is credited to making the studio a success.
As the studio prospered, it gained backing from Wall Street. In 1924, Goldman Sachs arranged a major loan for Warner Bros. Warner, with the new money, bought the Vitagraph Company, which had a nation-wide distribution system. As a little treat, they got the experimental synchronized-sound process entitled "Vitaphone." Going headfirst into radio, they established radio stations in several large cities across America. Warner Bros. Also jumped on the band wagon with other large studios to buy land and to build theaters.
At Sam Warner’s advice, the company decided to develop Vitaphone and they began to make films in 1926 with music and sound. When this became popular with the movie-going public, they took the next step a year later. In October of 1927, Warner Bros. Introduced a picture with spoken dialogue, one that is still known of and watched today: The Jazz Singer. The movie was an overnight sensation and this launched the movement to talking pictures from silent ones. With the profits earned from The Jazz Singer, in 1928, Warners bought the Stanley Company. The company in question was an enormous theater chain. This started a rivalry between this studio and First National Pictures—a studio in which Stanley owned one-third of. A bidding war with William Fox insured, and Warner bought First National shares and eventually gained control of the company. When the Depression hit, however, Warner got permission to merge two studios. Warner Bros. Then moved to the First National lot in Burbank, California. Though the companies had merged, Justice required Warner to release a few films each year under the First National name. That is until 1938. For thirty years, Warner productions would be identified, mostly for tax purposes, as a "Warner Bros. – First National Picture."
Production head was Darryl F. Zanuck and under his control, Warners during the 1930s became known for their gangster-films inspired by actual events written about in newspapers. The studio’s stars tended to be tough-talking, I’ll-sock-you-in-the-nose types. Among them were James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell. After Zanuck was taken over by Hal B. Wallis in 1933, the studio tried to make their pictures more sophisticated and offered melodramas (considered "women’s’ pictures"), swashbucklers and expensive adaptations of best-selling novels. Most adaptations in question starred Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland or Errol Flynn.
Warner’s cartoon unit began quite small in 1930 and was run by a company owned by Leon Schlesinger. Disney animators offered tame cartoons, but with the arrival of Tex Avery and the creation of Termite Terrace, the unit developed at a fast-paced—an insane style that made the cartoons popular all over the world. Warner bought the cartoon unit in 1944 and characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck became essential and a part of the studio’s image. The sky-rocketing attendance records for movie-goers during World War II made Warner Bros. rich literally overnight. The gangster-style of Warner Bros. broke away and a new look arose, especially in melodramas. The 1940s also gave way to the rise of Humphrey Bogart, who was a supporting player but became a major star. Through the post-war years, Warner continued to create new stars, such as Lauren Bacall. In 1948, Warner offered the first color newsreel to its movie-viewing audience, which covered the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl.
In the anti-trust case in the 1940s, with the United States vs. Paramount Pictures, et. Al, Warner Bros. was a part of the case. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission claimed that the five integrated studio-theater chain combinations decreased competition. The Supreme Case heard the case in 1948 and ruled in the favor of the government. In 1953, the Warner theater holdings were spun off as Stanley Warner Theaters. Since there were no more theaters for the studio, there was no need nor point to make thirty pictures a year and no need for the costly Warner Bros. staff. Fifty years in the business, the Warners decided to sell the studio to a bank-led syndicate. The deal was finally completed in 1956. This was when the elder Warner Brothers, Harry and Albert, learned the leading investor in the bank was their youngest brother, Jack. This caused tension in the family and for the rest of their lives, the brothers didn’t even talk to one another. Jack Warner was now solely in charge at Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. soon bounced back and began to specialize in adaptations of popular plays. The studio also had a television unit with popular series. Although they were already the owner of music-publishing holdings, the studio opened Warner Brothers Records before the 1960s. Once again, the company began to wind down in the 1960s. There weren’t many few studio-produced films anymore, but instead pickups of independent pictures and co-productions.
In 1967, Jack Warner finally sold Warner Bros. and the music business for $78 million dollars. Sold to Seven Arts Productions, the company was run by Canadian Elliot and Kenneth Hyman, Canadian investors. Their production company, Associated Artists Productions had even owned the pre-1948 Warner Bros. film library. The company was remained Warner Bros. – Seven Arts after the purchase.
In 1995, after many other merging with other companies didn’t work, Warner Bros. launched The WB Network, a television station specializing in teenage-based shows. Their shows? Cult classics, that include Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. As of 2006, Warner Bros. is still a working studio and has made a considerable amount of profit. Also in the 1990s, Warners bought the rights to the Harry Potter novels and have been churning out movie adaptations ever since.