ITC Entertainment

The Incorporated Television Company (ITC), or ITC Entertainment as it was referred to in the United States, was a British company involved in production and distribution of television programmes.

ITC Entertainment
IndustryMedia
FateFolded into Universal Pictures. Assets sold to Carlton Communications in 1999.
Founded10 September 1954
Founders
Defunct11 October 1998
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Key people
Lord Grade
ProductsFilms
TV shows
ServicesDistribution
Parent
Divisions
  • ITC Home Video
  • ITC Film Distributors
  • AP Films
  • ITC Films

History

Incorporated Television Programme Company

Television mogul Lew Grade set up the Incorporated Television Programme Company (ITP) with Prince Littler and Val Parnell in 1954.[1] Originally designed to be a contractor for the UK's new ITV network, the company failed to win a contract when the Independent Television Authority felt that doing so would give too much control in the entertainment business to the Grade family's companies (which included large talent agencies and theatre interests)[2] although the ITA said that ITP were free to make their own programmes which they could sell to the new network companies. ITP put most of the production budget into producing one show, The Adventures of Robin Hood (ITV, 1955–59).[1]

However, the winner of one of the contracts, the Associated Broadcasting Development Company, had insufficient funds to start broadcasting,[2] so the ITP owners were brought into the consortium and Lew Grade came to dominate it.[3]

Incorporated Television Company

In 1957, now known as Incorporated Television Company (ITC), the company became a subsidiary of the Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC)–which soon changed its name to Associated Television (ATV) after threats of legal action from fellow ITV company Associated British Corporation[4]–and produced its own programmes for ATV and for syndication in the United States. It also distributed ATV material outside of the UK. From 1966 to 1982 it was a subsidiary of Associated Communications Corporation after the acquisition of ATV.[5]

The initials 'ITC' stood for two different things: Independent Television Corporation for sales to the Americas, and Incorporated Television Company for sales to the rest of the world. The American Independent Television Corporation was formed in 1958 as a joint venture with Jack Wrather.[6] In September 1958 it purchased Television Programs of America (TPA) for $11,350,000. Wrather sold his shares to Lew Grade at the end of the decade.

The large foreign sales achieved by ITC during the British government's export drives of the 1960s and 1970s led to ACC receiving the Queen's Award for Export on numerous occasions until ITC's association with the broadcaster and success actually led to the demise of both ATV as a broadcaster and ITC as a production company in 1982.

During 1988 The Bell Group, the owners of ITC were taken over by the Bond Corporation.[7][8][9] Subsequently, the new owners started an asset-stripping programme. In November 1988 ITC Entertainment was bought by its management.[10] In 1990, ITC abandoned television production and concentrated on low-budget feature films. TV production at ITC would not resume until the company forged a deal with producer David Gerber in 1993.[11]

In 1989, ITC Home Video was formed in the United Kingdom, to make use of the many hours of programmes in the archive, then unseen for years. This short-lived home entertainment division would end in 1991. In the following period, ITC continued to distribute its past library.

In 1995, PolyGram purchased the company for $156 million.[12][13] with Grade once again returning to ITC to act as a consultant until his death in December 1998.[14][15]

On 10 December 1998, Universal Studios' parent, Seagram purchased PolyGram for $10.2 billion.[16] In early January 1999, Carlton Communications bought the ITC television and film library from PolyGram/Seagram for £91 million, which reunited the programme library of ATV and Central Television and doubled the stock of its library division Carlton International, by giving it a total of 15,000 hours of programming. Carlton chairman Michael Green said: 'The ITC library is a jewel in the crown. We can now unite it with the other gems from Britain's film and television heritage in our excellent library.'[17] In 2004, Carlton merged with Granada plc to form ITV plc. ITV Studios continues to release ITC's original output through television and internet streaming repeats, books and DVD and Blu-ray releases.

In 2005, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company, Network DVD released a DVD box set entitled ITC 50 featuring episodes from eighteen different ITC productions.

Productions

Itcident1974
A still from the 1973 ITC Entertainment logo ident.

Reputation

ITC is best known for being the company behind many successful British cult TV filmed series during the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Danger Man, The Baron, Gideon's Way, The Champions, The Prisoner, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Stingray, Joe 90, Man in a Suitcase, Strange Report, Department S, The Persuaders!, Jason King, The Adventurer, The Protectors, Space 1999, and Return of the Saint. It was also the production company for The Muppet Show and Julie on Sesame Street which were both made at ATV's Elstree Studios and distributed in the UK by ATV and in the US by ITC.

Entry into production

ITC got its start as a production company when former American producer Hannah Weinstein approached Lew Grade. Weinstein wanted to make a programme called The Adventures of Robin Hood. Weinstein proposed making the series for ITV and simultaneously marketing it in the United States through an American TV distribution company, Official Films. The series was a big success in both countries, running from 1955 until 1959 on CBS and ATV London.

"Ground-breakages"

Grade realised the potential in overseas sales and colour television (the last 14 episodes of The Adventures of Sir Lancelot were filmed in colour a decade before colour television existed in the UK),[18] and ITC combined high production values with exotic locations and uses of variations on the same successful formula for the majority of its television output.

ITC United States programmes

Although most of the ITC series were produced in Britain, ITC often worked with Television Programs of America (TPA) and several series were filmed in America. Possibly the earliest ITC series produced in the US was Fury, a Saturday morning live-action series, about a beloved ranch horse, which starred Peter Graves and ran on NBC in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1963 Gerry Anderson's Anderson-Provis (AP) Films became part of ACC and produced Fireball XL-5, the hugely successful children's series Thunderbirds and, under its successor company Century 21 Television/Cinema Productions, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. ITC also funded Anderson-created programmes aimed at the adult market, including UFO and Space: 1999. It was at ITC's request that Fanderson, "the Gerry Anderson Appreciation Society," was founded. Another ITC children's series was The Adventures of Rupert Bear, the first television outing for the Daily Express cartoon character. ITC (in partnership with the Italian company RAI) was also behind Franco Zeffirelli's Biblical mini-series Jesus of Nazareth, Moses the Lawgiver, and the Gregory Peck television film The Scarlet and the Black.

Films and sundry programmes

In addition to television programming, ITC also produced several films – including Capricorn One, The Eagle Has Landed, The Boys from Brazil, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Last Unicorn, and a number of Jim Henson Company productions: The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppet films, The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. Initially, ITC productions were licensed out to other US studios for release until 1979, when ITC partnered with another UK-based production company, Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, to create Associated Film Distribution, which would release films produced by each company, as well as pick-ups from other production companies. In 1979, the subsidiary Black Lion Films was founded in the manner of Thames Euston Films, but its best remembered production, The Long Good Friday, was sold on to HandMade Films.

The 1980s

In the summer of 1980, two films released by AFD within six weeks of each other helped lead to the distribution company's dissolution. Can't Stop the Music, designed to be a showcase for Village People at the height of disco music, was released 20 June 1980, by which time disco's popularity had diminished and the form was experiencing a backlash from music listeners. The poorly reviewed film ultimately grossed $2 million on a $20 million budget. On 1 August 1980, the release of the poorly received Raise the Titanic! met with pre-release criticism from the novel's author, Clive Cussler, and recouped only a fraction of its costs; Grade himself retired from active film production, commenting that it would have been cheaper to "lower the Atlantic."[19] Cussler himself told People Weekly Magazine, "The film was so poor, it boggles the mind."

After the films' failures, ITC and EMI agreed to sell AFD and the distribution rights to its library to Universal Studios, though the AFD films which were then in post production at the time were still ultimately released by AFD, to handle the release of the remaining pictures still in production at the time of the sale, beginning with The Legend of the Lone Ranger, and including On Golden Pond, Sophie's Choice, The Dark Crystal, and The Great Muppet Caper. As January 2016 was beginning, while the various copyrights had reverted to their respective owners, Universal still maintained theatrical rights to most of the ITC and EMI films initially released by AFD.

In 1983, ITC produced and released the animated series Thunderbirds 2086, which was not an original British series based on the Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds. It was actually an English dubbed version of Scientific Rescue Team Technoboyager, a Japanese anime that has an identical premise to Anderson's Thuderbirds. ITC licensed the series for an English dub and re-imagined the series as set twenty years after the original, thus being an evolution of that same International Rescue Organization. However, the Tracy family and associated characters from the Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds are never mentioned.

The 1990s

In 1990, ITC briefly attempted to enter the lucrative American game show market, with a syndicated revival of Tic-Tac-Dough, which had previously run from 1978 to 1986 in syndication, alongside Barry & Enright Productions. However, the show was off the air by March 1991, mainly due to a glut of syndicated game show offerings during the 1990-91 season, as well as several changes in gameplay which were criticised, as was host Patrick Wayne.

Grade himself died in 1998.

Other

As a distribution company, ITC was also the worldwide distributor for ATV's one-off The Benny Hill Show special, but not the Thames Television series.[20]

Current ownership

Today, the underlying rights are generally owned by ITV Studios Global Entertainment via ITV plc and its respective predecessors, although in most cases Shout! Factory now holds full worldwide distribution rights (with US theatrical distribution handled by Shout!’s Westchester Films division, passed on from former distributors Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Park Circus). In turn, Shout!’s video distribution rights in North America to a majority of the ITC Entertainment library were assumed from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.[21]

As for ITC's television output, Carlton (and later Granada and now ITV) released some of these shows on DVD both in Europe and North America. There were however a few exceptions: The Adventures of Robin Hood and the other swashbuckling adventure series of the late 1950s and early 1960s were released on DVD by Network Video, as was Strange Report.

Many of the cult drama shows from the 1960s and 1970s have since been released by Network as limited edition box sets, the most recent being Interpol Calling (as of November 2010).

The Walt Disney Company has owned the Muppets franchise since 2004, including ITC productions The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, and The Great Muppet Caper. The Jim Henson Company owns the ITC production The Dark Crystal as it had bought the film from the company after production had completed; the film is distributed on home video under license by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

List of ITC Entertainment productions and distributions

ITC produced and distributed a wide range of content across both film and television, over several decades. ITC productions and distributions crossed many different genres – from historical adventure, to spy-fi and action, and later into both children's and adult science-fiction – as well as films covering many different subjects.

The ITC Distributions page offers a complete list of ITC produced and distributed programmes.

Filmography

Studios

ITC had no studios of its own. Programmes were made in several facilities but most notably at ABPC's Elstree film studios (not to be confused with ATV's nearby Clarendon Road Studios, Borehamwood studios which was a live/videotape facility, and now known as BBC Elstree). However, the MGM-British Studios complex at Borehamwood,[22] the Rank Organisation's Pinewood and Shepperton Studios were also used. 'Ghost Squad' was made at the Independent Artists Studio in Beaconsfield.

Associated Communications Corporation companies

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "ITC". BFI. Archived from the original on 4 April 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b "ATV". BFI. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2008. the ITA felt that the enormous amount of talent ITC controlled could easily lead it to monopolise the fledgling network
  3. ^ Waymark, Peter (10 January 2013). Lew Grade, Baron Grade. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  4. ^ "ATV". BFI. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2008. The battle for the initials 'ABC' had to be settled in court, where the cinema owner succeeded on the basis of prior use.
  5. ^ "ATV". BFI. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  6. ^ "A Quick Guide to ITC". 405 Alive. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  7. ^ Holmes à Court announces reverse takeover at Bell.Richard Battley. The Times, Tuesday, 1 March 1988; pg. 27;
  8. ^ Bond plan to merge with Bell empire. Richard Battley. The Times, Saturday, 2 July 1988; pg. 25
  9. ^ Bell recommends Bond Corp offer.(Reuter). The Times (London, England), Friday, 19 August 1988; pg. 25
  10. ^ Bond's sale of ITC estimated at £60m. John Bell, City Editor. The Times, Thursday, 10 November 1988
  11. ^ Lowry, Brian (13 July 1993). "Gerber, ITC team for teleprod'n". Variety. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  12. ^ PolyGram filmed entertainment acquires ITC Entertainment Group. Business Wire 10 January 1995. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  13. ^ PolyGram buys Itc for $156m. The Times, Wednesday, 11 January 1995; pg. 25
  14. ^ "Media legend Grade dead". BBC News. 13 December 1998. Archived from the original on 3 December 2002. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Entertainment Tycoon Lew Grade Dies". AP NEWS. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  16. ^ Seagram swallows PolyGram Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine CNN.com 10 December 1998. Retrieved 19 July 2014
  17. ^ "Thunderbirds are going, going, gone". BBC News. 19 January 1999. Archived from the original on 17 March 2004. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  18. ^ Alwyn W. Turner (1 April 2013). Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks. Aurum Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-84513-687-1.
  19. ^ Fowler, Rebecca (31 August 1996), "It would be cheaper to lower the Atlantic", The Independent, London, archived from the original on 6 November 2012, retrieved 9 April 2012
  20. ^ "IMDB". Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2008.
  21. ^ Childs2013-07-25T15:51:00+01:00, Maysie. "Shout! Factory signs ITV Studios deal". Screen. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  22. ^ Wanda Ventham (2007). Introduction to The Mirror's New, Danger Man: Special Edition (DVD). Network DVD.

External links

Autumn Sonata

Autumn Sonata (Swedish: Höstsonaten, German: Herbstsonate) is a 1978 Swedish drama film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, and starring Ingrid Bergman (in her final film role), Liv Ullmann and Lena Nyman. Its plot follows a celebrated classical pianist and her neglected daughter who meet for the first time in years, and chronicles their painful discussions of how they have hurt one another.

Autumn Sonata was the last of Bergman's films to be made for theatrical exhibition; all of his films made after it, even those screened in theatres, were television productions.

Capricorn One

Capricorn One is a 1978 government conspiracy thriller film about a Mars landing hoax. It was written and directed by Peter Hyams and produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment. It stars Elliott Gould with James Brolin, Sam Waterston and O. J. Simpson as the astronauts.

Fanderson

Fanderson is the official appreciation society for the works of British film and television producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. It is a not-for-profit organisation endorsed by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, ITC Entertainment Group, The Indestructible Production Company and Anderson Entertainment. Based in the United Kingdom, but with an international membership, the club is run by a small committee of unpaid volunteers.The club was formed on 20 August 1981 at a meeting convened by ITC and Gerry Anderson. Previously, ITC had supported the various clubs and societies that followed Anderson's works; in 1981 it requested that the separate groups merge, and in exchange promised to give its full support (except financial assistance) to the new organisation.

Hard Country (film)

Hard Country is a 1981 American drama film directed by David Greene and starring Jan-Michael Vincent, Kim Basinger, and Michael Parks. Written by Michael Kane and Michael Martin Murphey, the film is about a young woman who longs to escape the limitations of life in a small Texas town to pursue her dreams. She is prevented from leaving by her factory worker boyfriend who does not want her to move to the big city. The film features appearances by country music artists Tanya Tucker and Michael Martin Murphey.

Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans, later retitled Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans is a 1957 historical period drama television series made for syndication by ITC Entertainment and Normandie Productions. It ran for one season of 39 half-hour monochrome episodes. The series is available on DVD and some episodes on VHS.

Inside Moves

Inside Moves is a 1980 American drama film directed by Richard Donner. The film is based on the book of the same name by Todd Walton, with a script by then writing duo Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson.

Jason King (TV series)

Jason King (1971–1972) is a British television series starring Peter Wyngarde as the titular character. It was produced by ITC Entertainment and had a single season of 26 episodes which were each one hour long, including commercial breaks. It was shown internationally as well as in the UK, and has been released on DVD in the UK, US, Australia and Germany.

Julie on Sesame Street

Julie on Sesame Street was a variety special broadcast in the United States on ABC on November 23, 1973 at 9 PM ET / PT. Sponsored on ABC by technology/telecommunications conglomerate GTE, the special starred Julie Andrews and Perry Como, and are joined by several of Jim Henson's Muppets from the PBS children's series, Sesame Street. No human members of the Sesame Street cast appeared in this special. Andrews and "special guest star" Como interacted with the Muppet characters (including Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and Bert and Ernie), sharing comedic banter and singing songs such as "It's Not Easy Being Green" and "Picture a World" on the Sesame Street "neighborhood" set.

Produced by ATV and ITC at ATV Elstree in the United Kingdom (and not at Sesame Street's then-usual New York City studios), the special was televised in that country on ITV on July 10, 1974 at 8PM in most regions. The special was the first Muppets-related program to be produced with ATV and ITC, who would both co-produce the highly successful The Muppet Show three years later.

MotorWeek

MotorWeek is an American half-hour automotive television series. The program premiered on October 15, 1981 and is hosted by automotive journalist John H. Davis, who is also the series’ creator and executive producer. MotorWeek is produced by Maryland Public Television and is seen nationwide on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Discovery Network, Velocity, V-me and internationally on the American Forces Network.

The half-hour program is presented in a magazine style format, with reviews, comparisons, news, and features. MotorWeek's original slogan was "Television's automotive magazine", later changed to "Television's original automotive magazine", although the BBC's Top Gear debuted in 1977. The show went into national syndication beginning September 11, 1993, originally syndicated by ITC Entertainment.

Return of the Saint

Return of the Saint was a British action-adventure television series that aired for one season in 1978 and 1979 in Britain on ITV, and was also broadcast on CBS in the United States. It was co-produced by ITC Entertainment and the Italian broadcaster RAI and ran for 24 episodes.

Sophie's Choice (film)

Sophie's Choice is a 1982 American drama film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who adapted William Styron's novel of the same name. Meryl Streep stars as Sophie, a Polish immigrant who shares a boarding house in Brooklyn with her tempestuous lover, Nathan (Kevin Kline in his feature film debut), and a young writer, Stingo (Peter MacNicol).

Streep's performance was acclaimed, and she received the Academy Award for Best Actress. The film was nominated for Best Cinematography (Néstor Almendros), Best Costume Design (Albert Wolsky), Best Music (Marvin Hamlisch), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Alan J. Pakula).

British company ITC Entertainment produced the film, and Universal Pictures distributed and released it.

The Adventurer (TV series)

The Adventurer is an ITC Entertainment TV adventure series created by Dennis Spooner that ran for one season from 1972 to 1973. It premiered in the UK on 29 September 1972. The show starred Gene Barry as Gene Bradley, a government agent of independent means who poses as a glamorous American movie star.

The Big Sleep (1978 film)

The Big Sleep is a 1978 British neo-noir film, the second film version of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel of the same name. The picture was directed by Michael Winner and stars Robert Mitchum in his second film portrayal of the detective Philip Marlowe. The cast includes Sarah Miles, Candy Clark, Joan Collins, and Oliver Reed, also featuring James Stewart as General Sternwood.The story's setting was changed from 1940s Los Angeles to 1970s London. The film contained material more explicit than what could only be hinted at in the 1946 version, such as homosexuality, pornography and nudity. Mitchum was 60 at the time of filming, far older than Chandler's 33-year-old Marlowe (or the 1946 film's 38-year-old Marlowe played by a 44-year-old Bogart).

The Count of Monte Cristo (1956 TV series)

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1956 British television series produced by ITC Entertainment/TPA and adapted very loosely from the novel by Alexandre Dumas by Sidney Marshall. It premiered in the UK in early 1956 and ran for 39 thirty-minute episodes dramatizing the continuing adventures of Edmond Dantès, the self-styled Count of Monte Cristo, during the reign of Louis Philippe I d'Orléans, King of the French from 1830 to 1848. The first twelve episodes were filmed in the United States, at the Hal Roach studios, with the rest being filmed at ITC's traditional home of Elstree.ITC produced a film based on the same source-material, The Count of Monte-Cristo, in 1975.

The Count of Monte Cristo (1975 film)

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1975 television film produced by ITC Entertainment and based upon the book The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, père. It was directed by David Greene and starred Richard Chamberlain as Edmond Dantès, Kate Nelligan as Mercedes, Tony Curtis as Fernand Mondego, Louis Jourdan (who played Edmond Dantès in the 1961 film adaptation of the novel) as De Villefort, Donald Pleasence as Danglars, Trevor Howard as Abbé Faria, and Isabelle de Valvert as Haydee. ITC had previously produced a 39-part TV series based on the same source material, in 1956.

Later it was remade in Telugu as Veta.

The Great Muppet Caper

The Great Muppet Caper is a 1981 mystery musical comedy film directed by Jim Henson, marking his feature directorial debut. The film is about the Muppets who must travel to London to stop a jewel heist. It is the second of a series of live-action musical feature films, starring Jim Henson's Muppets. The film was a British-American venture produced by Henson Associates and ITC Entertainment, and originally released by Universal Pictures1 on 26 June 1981. It is also the only Muppet feature film directed by Henson. Shot in Great Britain and London in 1980, the film was released shortly after the final season of The Muppet Show.

The Last Seduction

The Last Seduction is a 1994 neo-noir erotic thriller film directed by John Dahl, and features Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, and Bill Pullman. The film was produced by ITC Entertainment and distributed by October Films. Fiorentino's performance generated talk of an Oscar nomination, but she was ineligible because the film was shown on HBO before it was released to theatres. October Films and ITC Entertainment sued the Academy, but were unable to make Fiorentino eligible for a nomination.The 1999 sequel The Last Seduction II featured none of the original cast and starred Joan Severance as the character Fiorentino originated.

The New Adventures of Charlie Chan

The New Adventures of Charlie Chan is a British-American crime drama series that aired in the United States in syndicated television from June 1957, to 1958. The first five episodes were made by Vision Productions in the United States, before production switched to the United Kingdom under ITC Entertainment and Television Programs of America.

Whispers (1990 film)

Whispers is a 1990 Canadian horror film directed by Douglas Jackson and starring Victoria Tennant, Jean LeClerc, and Chris Sarandon. It is based on the novel of the same name by Dean Koontz.

ITC Distributions
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(1958—1979)
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(1962—1975, 1980)
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(1976, 1977)
Jim Henson productions
(1976—1982)
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(1959—1971)
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