Major film studio

A major film studio is a production and distribution company that releases a substantial number of films annually and consistently commands a significant share of box office revenue in a given market. In the American and international markets, the major film studios, often simply known as the majors, are commonly regarded as the five diversified media conglomerates whose various film production and distribution subsidiaries collectively command approximately 80–85% of U.S. box office revenue.[1][2] The term may also be applied more specifically to the primary motion picture business subsidiary of each respective conglomerate.

Currently, the "Big Five" majors are all film studios active since Hollywood's Golden Age. Two of them – Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures – were members of the "Big Five", but the other three – Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Walt Disney Pictures – did not gain their market shares until much later. The former two were part of the "Little Three" in the next tier down, and the latter one was an independent production company during the Golden Age. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and RKO were the other two Golden Age "Big Five" majors, that exist today only as a mini-major and a small independent company. United Artists was a distribution company for several independent producers during the Golden Age, later began producing films, grew to major status, then merged with MGM. Until 2019, 20th Century Fox served as a sixth member, when the industry was referred to as the "Big Six" since the 1980s.[3]

While the main studios of the Big Five are located within 15 miles (24 km) of each other, Disney is the only studio that has been owned by the same conglomerate since its founding and was also the sole member whose parent entity is still located near Los Angeles on Disney's studio lot and in the same building,[4][5] until 2019, when the company acquired 20th Century Fox. whereas the five others were previously owned by many different companies years ago and now report to conglomerates that are respectively located elsewhere in Dallas (Warner Bros.), New York City (Paramount), Philadelphia (Universal), and Tokyo (Columbia); moreover, Disney and Columbia are the only ones whose parent companies are still headquartered near the Pacific Ocean. Paramount is the only one still based in Hollywood with Columbia being in Culver City; furthermore, Paramount and Columbia are the only ones still located within and near the Los Angeles city limits. Both Disney and Warner Bros. are located in Burbank and Universal is in the unincorporated area of Universal City.

Most of today's Big Five also control subsidiaries with their own distribution networks that concentrate on arthouse pictures (e.g. Fox Searchlight Pictures) or genre films (e.g. Sony's Screen Gems); several of these specialty units were shut down or sold off between 2008 and 2010. The five major studios are contrasted with smaller production and/or distribution companies, which are known as independents or "indies". The leading independent producer/distributors such as Lionsgate, and STX Entertainment are sometimes referred to as "mini-majors". From 1998 through 2005, DreamWorks SKG commanded a large enough market share to arguably qualify it as a seventh major, despite its relatively small output. In 2006, DreamWorks was acquired by Viacom, Paramount's corporate parent. In late 2008, DreamWorks once again became an independent production company; its films were distributed by Disney's Touchstone Pictures until 2016, at which point distribution switched to Universal.

The Big Five major studios are today primarily backers and distributors of films whose actual production is largely handled by independent companies – either long-running entities or ones created for and dedicated to the making of a specific film. The specialty divisions often simply acquire distribution rights to pictures in which the studio has had no prior involvement. While the majors still do a modicum of true production, their activities are focused more in the areas of development, financing, marketing, and merchandising. Those business functions are still usually performed in or near Los Angeles, even though the runaway production phenomenon means that most films are now mostly or completely shot on location at places outside Los Angeles.

Since the dawn of filmmaking, the U.S. major film studios have dominated both American cinema and the global film industry. U.S. studios have benefited from a strong first-mover advantage in that they were the first to industrialize filmmaking and master the art of mass-producing and distributing high-quality films with broad cross-cultural appeal.[6] Today, the Big Five majors routinely distribute hundreds of films every year into all significant international markets (that is, where discretionary income is high enough for consumers to afford to watch films). It is very rare, if not impossible, for a film to reach a broad international audience on multiple continents and in multiple languages without being picked up by one of the majors for distribution.

Major film studio is located in San Fernando Valley
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
Big Five studios in the San Fernando Valley (Universal, Warner Bros., and Disney)
Major film studio is located in Western Los Angeles
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Big Five studios in Hollywood (Paramount) and the Westside (Columbia)

Majors

Present

Studio parent
(conglomerate)
Major film studio unit Year founded Arthouse/indie Genre movie/B movie Animation Other divisions and brands US/CA market share (2018)[7]
NBCUniversal
(Comcast)
Universal Pictures 1912 14.9%
Viacom
(National Amusements)
Paramount Pictures 1912 6.4%
WarnerMedia
(AT&T)
Warner Bros. Pictures 1923 16.3%
Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)
  • 1923
36.3%
Sony Pictures
(Sony)
Columbia Pictures 1924[11] 10.9%

Past

Past majors include:

Mini-majors

Mini-major studios (or "mini-majors") are the larger film production companies that are smaller than the major studios and attempt to compete directly with them.[15]

Present

Studio parent
(conglomerate)
Mini-major studio unit Year founded Other divisions and brands US/CA market

share (2018)[7]

Lionsgate Motion Picture Group
(Lionsgate)
[16][17][18]
Lionsgate Films 1962 3.3%
The Amblin Group
Amblin Partners[20] 2015
STX Entertainment STX Films 2014[21]
  • STX International
  • STX Family
2.3%
1895 Gaumont Animation
CBS Corporation
(National Amusements)
CBS Films[23] 2007
MGM Holdings
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures[26] 1924 1.4%
Egmont Group[27] Nordisk Film[28] 1906
  • Avanti Film
  • Danish Films
  • Maipo Film (NO)
  • Min Bio
  • Solar Films (FI)
  • Trust Nordisk
  • Zentropa (JV)
Highlight Communications Constantin Film 1950

Past

Past mini-majors include:

The studios

Lions Gate Entertainment, which moved in 2006 from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Santa Monica, California, was the most successful North American movie studio based outside the Los Angeles metropolitan area before its relocation. Now known as Lionsgate, it was founded in 1997 by financier Frank Giustra.[46] (The company is unrelated to Lion's Gate Films, the Los Angeles–based production company run by filmmaker Robert Altman in the 1970s.)[47] In 2003, the company doubled in size with the acquisition of Artisan Entertainment.[48] In January 2012, Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment, which was the highest-grossing mini-major the previous three years.[49] Summit was founded as an independent overseas sales company in 1991, moved into production in the mid-1990s, and was reconstituted as a full-fledged studio in 2006.[50] Lionsgate also owns a minority stake in the independent distribution company Roadside Attractions.[51]

Lionsgate is apparently on the cusp of becoming a major studio with the parent's purchase of Summit Entertainment as well as its controlling share of Roadside Attractions (43%)[52] and Pantelion Films (as specialty units). With its top five box office showing it was declared a new major studio by Variety;[51] however, The Hollywood Reporter does not yet recognize the company as a major.[53]

MGM, after decades as a major studio, continues to distribute motion pictures and television content as a minor, privately held media company. In April 2005, it was purchased from Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corporation by a consortium including Sony, cable company Comcast (who now owns Universal Pictures), Providence Equity Partners, and three other private investment firms. MGM has a deal with 20th Century Fox for the distribution of home video and overseas theatrical product.[54] MGM is also once again the sole owner of United Artists, after Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner sold back their minority stakes. Via its original 1981 merger with UA, MGM controls the rights to the James Bond franchise. Columbia co-distributed the first two Bond films starring Daniel Craig after the 2005 purchase.[55] After a third Bond film with Craig was put on hold when MGM slipped into deep financial trouble, Sony reached an agreement with MGM in April 2011 to distribute Skyfall.[56] Sony's distribution rights to the franchise expired in late 2015 with the release of Spectre.[57] In 2017, MGM and Eon offered a one-film contract to co-finance and distribute the upcoming 25th film worldwide,[58] which was reported on 25 May 2018 to have been won by Universal Pictures.[59]

DreamWorks was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. Once again independent with the founding of a new company after two-and-a-half years under the Viacom/Paramount corporate umbrella, it is backed by India's Reliance ADA Group.[60] DreamWorks is not a full-service studio—it produces and finances films, but as it did for most of its first era as an independent, it arranges distribution through the majors. In February 2009, after dropping out of a deal with Universal, DreamWorks struck such a deal with Disney, though Paramount was releasing the DreamWorks pictures developed there through mid-2011.[61] The first independent DreamWorks film to be released under the new deal, via Touchstone, was I Am Number Four in February 2011. Katzenberg, who was completely divested from the new DreamWorks, ran DreamWorks Animation as a totally separate business. The company maintained distribution deals with DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox.[62] On August 22, 2016, Universal Studios' parent company NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, thereby granting Universal ownership access to every DreamWorks Animation product and distribution rights for future movies. As part of the agreement, Katzenberg relinquished control of DreamWorks Animation to Illumination's CEO Chris Meledandri while heading as new chairman of DreamWorks New Media.[63][64] How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, released on February 22, 2019, was the first DreamWorks Animation movie to be distributed by Universal Studios.

Instant major studios

"'Instant major' is a newly coined term for a film company that seemingly overnight has approached the status of major"[65] In 1967, three "instant majors" studios popped up, two of which were partnered with a Television network theatrical film unit with most lasting until 1973:

Other significant, past independent entities

History

The majors before the Golden Age

In 1909, Thomas Edison, who had been fighting in the courts for years for control of fundamental motion picture patents, won a major decision. This led to the creation of the Motion Picture Patents Company, widely known as the Trust. Comprising the nine largest U.S. film companies, it was "designed to eliminate not only independent film producers but also the country's 10,000 independent [distribution] exchanges and exhibitors."[66] Though its many members did not consolidate their filmmaking operations, the New York–based Trust was arguably the first major North American movie conglomerate. The independents' fight against the Trust was led by Carl Laemmle, whose Chicago-based Laemmle Film Service, serving the Midwest and Canada, was the largest distribution exchange in North America. Laemmle's efforts were rewarded in 1912 when the U.S. government ruled that the Trust was a "corrupt and unlawful association" and must be dissolved. On June 8, 1912, Laemmle organized the merger of his production division, IMP (Independent Motion Picture Company), with several other filmmaking companies, creating the Universal Film Manufacturing Company in New York City. By the end of the year, Universal was making movies at two Los Angeles facilities: the former Nestor Film studio in Hollywood, and another studio in Edendale. The first Hollywood major was in business.[67]

In 1916, a second powerful Hollywood studio was established when Adolph Zukor merged his Famous Players Film Company movie production house with the Jesse L. Lasky Company to form Famous Players-Lasky. The combined studio acquired Paramount Pictures as a distribution arm and eventually adopted its name. That same year, William Fox relocated his Fox Film Corporation from Fort Lee, New Jersey to Hollywood and began expanding.[68] In 1918, four brothers—Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner—founded the first Warner Brothers Studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. On April 4, 1923, the Warner Brothers incorporated their fledgling movie company as "Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc."

The Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America and the Independent Producers' Association declared war in 1925 on what they termed a common enemy — the "film trust" of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, and First National, which they claimed dominated the industry by not only producing and distributing motion pictures, but by entering into exhibition as well.[69] On October 6, 1927, Warner Bros. released The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, and a whole new era began, with "pictures that talked," bringing the Studio to the forefront of the film industry. The Jazz Singer played to standing-room-only crowds throughout the country and earned a special Academy Award for Technical Achievement.[70] Fox, in the forefront of sound film along with Warners, was also acquiring a sizable circuit of movie theaters to exhibit its product.

The majors during the Golden Age

Between late 1928, when RCA's David Sarnoff engineered the creation of the RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) studio, and the end of 1949, when Paramount divested its theater chain—roughly the period considered Hollywood's Golden Age—there were eight Hollywood studios commonly regarded as the "majors".[71][72] Of these eight, the so-called Big Five were integrated conglomerates, combining ownership of a production studio, distribution division, and substantial theater chain, and contracting with performers and filmmaking personnel: Loew's/MGM, Paramount, Fox (which became 20th Century-Fox after a 1935 merger), Warner Bros., and RKO. The remaining majors were sometimes referred to as the "Little Three" or "major minor" studios.[33] Two—Universal and Columbia (founded in 1924)—were organized similarly to the Big Five, except for the fact that they never owned more than small theater circuits (a consistently reliable source of profits). The third of the lesser majors, United Artists (founded in 1919), owned 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 1930s, the eight majors averaged a total of 358 feature film releases a year; in the 1940s, the four largest companies shifted more of their resources toward high-budget productions and away from B movies, bringing the yearly average down to 288 for the decade.[71]

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. At the midpoint of the Golden Age, 1939, the Big Five had market shares ranging from 22% (MGM) to 9% (RKO); each of the Little Three had around a 7% share. In sum, the eight majors controlled 95% of the market. Ten years later, the picture was largely the same: the Big Five had market shares ranging from 22% (MGM) to 9% (RKO); the Little Three had shares ranging from 8% (Columbia) to 4% (United Artists). In sum, the eight majors controlled 96% of the market.[73]

The majors after the Golden Age

1950s–1960s

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. In November 1951, Decca Records purchased 28% of Universal; early the following year, the studio became the first of the classic Hollywood majors to be taken over by an outside corporation, as Decca acquired majority ownership.[74] The 1950s saw two substantial shifts in the hierarchy of the majors: RKO, perennially the weakest of the Big Five, declined rapidly under the mismanagement of Howard Hughes, who had purchased a controlling interest in the studio in 1948. By the time Hughes sold it to the General Tire and Rubber Company in 1955, the studio was a major by outdated reputation alone. In 1957, virtually all RKO movie operations ceased and the studio was dissolved in 1959. (Revived on a small scale in 1981, it 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. Under Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin, who began managing the company in 1951, UA became consistently profitable. By 1956—when it released one of the biggest blockbusters of the decade, Around the World in 80 Days—it commanded a 10% market share. By the middle of the next decade, it had reached 16% and was the second-most profitable studio in Hollywood. Despite RKO's collapse, the majors still averaged a total yearly release slate of 253 feature films during the decade.[71]

The 1960s were marked by a spate of corporate takeovers. MCA Inc., under Lew Wasserman, acquired Universal in 1962; Gulf+Western took over Paramount in 1966; and the Transamerica Corporation purchased United Artists in 1967. Warner Bros. underwent large-scale reorganization twice in two years: a 1967 merger with the Seven Arts company preceded a 1969 purchase by Kinney National, under Stephen J. Ross. 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 160.[71] The decade also saw an old name in the industry secure a position as a leading player. In 1923, Walt Disney had founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio with his brother Roy and animator Ub Iwerks. Over the following three decades Disney became a powerful independent focusing on animation and, from the late 1940s, an increasing number of live-action movies. In 1954, the company—now Walt Disney Productions—established Buena Vista Film Distribution to handle its own product, which had been distributed for years by various majors, primarily United Artists and then RKO. (Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, released by RKO, was the second biggest hit of the 1930s.) In its first year, Buena Vista had a major success with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the third biggest movie of 1954. In 1964, Buena Vista had its first blockbuster, Mary Poppins, Hollywood's biggest hit in half a decade. The company achieved a 9% market share that year, more than Fox and Warner Bros. Though over the next two decades, Disney/Buena Vista's share of the box-office would again hit similar marks, its relatively small output and exclusive focus on family movies meant that it was not generally considered a major.

1970s–1980s

The early 1970s were difficult years for all the majors. Movie attendance, which had been declining steadily since the Golden Age, hit an all-time low in 1971. In 1973, MGM president James T. Aubrey Jr. 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 in 1973, the next year MGM was down to five; its average for the rest of the 1970s would be even lower.[75] Like RKO in its last days under Hughes, MGM remained a major in terms of brand reputation, but little more. MGM, however, was not the only studio to trim its release line. By the mid-1970s, 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 1975–84.[71] The classic set of majors was shaken further in late 1980, when the disastrously expensive flop of Heaven's Gate effectively ruined United Artists. The studio was sold the following year to Kerkorian, who merged it with MGM. After a brief resurgence, the combined studio again declined. From the mid-1980s on, MGM/UA has been at best a "mini-major", to use the present-day term.

Meanwhile, a new member was finally admitted to the club of major studios and two significant contenders emerged. With the establishment of its Touchstone Pictures brand and increasing attention to the adult market in the mid-1980s, Disney/Buena Vista secured acknowledgment as a full-fledged major.[33] Film historian Joel Finler identifies 1986 as the breakthrough year, when Disney rose to third place in market share and remained consistently competitive for a leading position thereafter.[76] The two contenders were both newly formed companies. In 1978, Krim, Benjamin, and three other studio executives departed UA to found Orion Pictures as a joint venture with Warner Bros. It was announced optimistically as the "first major new film company in 50 years".[77] Tri-Star Pictures was created in 1982 as a joint venture of Columbia Pictures (then owned by the Coca-Cola Company), HBO (then owned by Time Inc.), and CBS. In 1985, Rupert 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.

In 1986, the combined share of the six classic majors—at that point Paramount, Warner Bros., Columbia, Universal, Fox, and MGM/UA—fell to 64%, the lowest since the beginning of the Golden Age. Disney was in third place, behind only Paramount and Warner Bros.. Even including it as a seventh major and adding its 10% share, the majors' control of the North American market was at a historic ebb. Orion, now completely independent of Warner Bros., and Tri-Star were well positioned as mini-majors, each with North American market shares of around 6% and regarded by industry observers as "fully competitive with the majors".[78] Smaller independents garnered 13%—more than any studio aside from Paramount. In 1964, by comparison, all of the companies beside the then seven majors and Disney had combined for a grand total of 1%. In the first edition of Finler's The Hollywood Story (1988), he 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."[79]

1990s–present

With the exception of MGM/UA—whose position was effectively filled by Disney—the old-established studios did bounce back. The purchase of 20th Century Fox by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation presaged a new round of corporate acquisitions. Between 1989 and 1994, Paramount, Warner Bros., Columbia, and Universal all changed ownership in a series of conglomerate purchases and mergers that brought them new financial and marketing muscle. Paramount's parent company Gulf+Western was renamed Paramount Communications in 1989 and was merged with Viacom five years later. Warner Communications merged with Time Inc. to give birth to the conglomerate Time Warner. Coca-Cola sold Columbia to Japanese electronics firm Sony also in 1989. And Universal's parent MCA was purchased by Matsushita. By the early 1990s, 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 1990s, New Line Cinema, Miramax, and DreamWorks SKG, were 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 1992 establishment of Sony Pictures Classics and the success of Pulp Fiction (1994), Miramax'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 124 films during 2006; the three largest secondary subsidiaries (New Line, Fox Searchlight, and Focus Features) accounted for another 30. Box-office domination was fully restored: in 2006, the six major movie conglomerates combined for 89.8% of the North American market; Lionsgate and Weinstein were almost exactly half as successful as their 1986 mini-major counterparts, sharing 6.1%; MGM came in at 1.8%; and all of the remaining independent companies split a pool totaling 2.3%.[80]

Only one of the major studios changed corporate hands during the first decade of the 2000s, though it did so three times: Universal was acquired by Vivendi in 2000, and then by General Electric four years later. Universal was fully acquired by Comcast in 2011. More developments took place among the majors' subsidiaries. The very successful animation production house Pixar, whose films were distributed by Buena Vista, was acquired by Disney in 2006. In 2008, New Line Cinema lost its independent status within Time Warner and became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Time Warner also announced that it would be shutting down its two specialty units, Warner Independent and Picturehouse.[81] In 2008 as well, Paramount Vantage's production, marketing, and distribution departments were folded into the parent studio,[82] though it retained the brand for release purposes.[83][84] Universal sold off its genre specialty division, Rogue Pictures, to Relativity Media in 2009.[85] Disney closed down Miramax's operations in January 2010,[86] and sold off the unit and its library that July to an investor group led by Ronald N. Tutor of the Tutor Perini construction firm and Tom Barrack of the Colony Capital private equity firm.[87]

Since June 14, 2018, Warner Bros. is owned by AT&T after it completed its acquisition of Time Warner, renaming it "WarnerMedia".[88]

On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company (which its division, The Walt Disney Studios owns a numerous studio units including a major film studio, Walt Disney Pictures) announced its intent to acquire a key assets of 21st Century Fox (which includes another major film studio, 20th Century Fox).[89] Both companies approved the deal on July 27, 2018 and closed on March 20, 2019.[90][91] The number of major film studios was reduced to 5, thus ending the era of the "Big Six" studios.[92]

Organizational lineage

The eight Golden Age majors

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):

Columbia Pictures

  • Independent as CBC Film Sales, 1918–1924 (founded by Harry Cohn, Joe Brandt, and Jack Cohn)
  • Independent, 1924–1968, company changes name as Columbia Pictures Corporation; goes public in 1926;
  • Columbia Pictures Industries, 1968–1982 (merger between Columbia Pictures Corporation and Screen Gems. CPI becomes the parent of both companies)
  • The Coca-Cola Company, 1982–1987 (purchased by Coca-Cola; Tri-Star Pictures, a joint venture with HBO and CBS initiated in 1982—CBS drops out in 1985 and HBO in 1986)
  • Columbia Pictures Entertainment, 1987–1991 (divested by Coca-Cola; Coke's entertainment business sold to Tri-Star and takes 49% in CPE)
  • Sony, 1989–present (purchased by Sony)

20th Century Fox

Warner Bros. Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Universal Pictures

  • Independent, 1912–1946 (founded by Carl Laemmle, Pat Powers, Adam Kessel, Charles Baumann, Mark Dintenfass, William Swanson, David Horsley, and Jules Brulatour)
  • Universal-International, 1946–1952 (merged with International Pictures)
  • Decca, 1952–1962 (purchased by Decca)
  • MCA Inc., 1962–1996 (MCA purchased Decca)
  • Matsushita Electric, 1990–1995 (Matsushita purchased MCA)
  • Seagram, 1995–2000 (purchased by Seagram from Matsushita)
  • Vivendi Universal, 2000–2004 (Vivendi purchased Seagram)
  • NBCUniversal, 2004–present
    • General Electric/Vivendi, 2004–2011 (jointly owned by GE (80%) and Vivendi, S.A. (20%) and merged with NBC to form NBC Universal)
    • Comcast/General Electric, 2011–2013 (Comcast purchased 51% of redubbed NBCUniversal)
    • Comcast, 2013–present (Comcast bought the remaining 49% from GE)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

United Artists

RKO Radio Pictures

  • RCA, 1928–1935 (founded by David Sarnoff)
  • Independent, 1935–1955 (half of RCA's interest purchased by Floyd Odlum, control split between RCA, Odlum, and Rockefeller brothers; controlling interest purchased by Odlum in 1942; controlling interest purchased by Howard Hughes in 1948; Hughes interest purchased by Stolkin-Koolish-Ryan-Burke-Corwin syndicate in 1952; interest repurchased by Hughes in 1953; fully purchased by Hughes in 1954)
  • General Tire and Rubber, 1955–1984 (purchased by General Tire and Rubber—coupled with General Tire's broadcasting operation as RKO Teleradio Pictures; production and distribution halted in 1957; movie business dissolved in 1959 and RKO Teleradio renamed RKO General; RKO General establishes RKO Pictures as production subsidiary in 1981)
  • GenCorp, 1984–1987 (reorganization creates holding company with RKO General and General Tire as primary subsidiaries)
  • Wesray Capital Corporation, 1987–1989 (spun off from RKO General, purchased by Wesray—controlled by William E. Simon and Ray Chambers—and merged with amusement park operations to form RKO/Six Flags Entertainment)
  • Independent, 1989–present (operates as RKO Pictures LLC) owned by Ted Hartley, who is the CEO. The company's recent films are A Late Quartet (2012) and Barely Lethal (2015).

See also

References

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Works cited

  • Cook, David A. (2000). Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970–1979 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press). ISBN 0-520-23265-8.
  • Eames, John Douglas (1985). The Paramount Story (New York: Crown). ISBN 0-517-55348-1.
  • Finler, Joel W. (1988). The Hollywood Story, 1st ed. (New York: Crown). ISBN 0-517-56576-5.
  • Finler, Joel W. (2003). The Hollywood Story, 3d ed. (London and New York: Wallflower). ISBN 1-903364-66-3.
  • Hirschhorn, Clive (1983). The Universal Story (London: Crown). ISBN 0-517-55001-6.
  • Hirschhorn, Clive (1999). The Columbia Story (London: Hamlyn). ISBN 0-600-59836-5.
  • Jewell, Richard B., with Vernon Harbin (1982). The RKO Story (New York: Arlington House/Crown). ISBN 0-517-54656-6.
  • Schatz, Thomas (1998 [1989]). The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (London: Faber and Faber). ISBN 0-571-19596-2.
  • Thomas, Tony, and Aubrey Solomon (1985). The Films of 20th Century-Fox (Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel). ISBN 0-8065-0958-9.
Alexander Kolowrat

Count Alexander "Sascha" Joseph von Kolowrat-Krakowsky (29 January 1886 – December 4, 1927), was an Austrian film producer of Bohemian-Czech descent from the House of Kolowrat. A pioneer of Austrian cinema, he founded the first major film studio Sascha-Film in Vienna.

Artisan Entertainment

Artisan Entertainment (formerly known as U.S.A. Home Video, International Video Entertainment (IVE) and LIVE Entertainment) was an American film studio and home video company. It was considered one of the largest mini-major film studios until it was purchased by later mini-major film studio Lions Gate Entertainment in 2003. At the time of its acquisition, Artisan had a library of thousands of films developed through acquisition, original production, and production and distribution agreements. Its headquarters and private screening room were located in Santa Monica, California. It also had an office in Tribeca in Manhattan, New York.The company owned the home video rights to the film libraries of Republic Pictures, ITC Entertainment, EMI Films, Gladden Entertainment, Hemdale Film Corporation, The Shooting Gallery, and Carolco Pictures before it went defunct.

Artisan's releases included Requiem for a Dream, Pi, Grizzly Falls, Killing Zoe, National Lampoon's Van Wilder, The Blair Witch Project, Novocaine, and Startup.com.

Bezhin Meadow

Bezhin Meadow (Бежин луг, Bezhin lug) is a 1937 Soviet film famous for having been suppressed and believed destroyed before its completion. Directed by Sergei Eisenstein, it tells the story of a young farm boy whose father attempts to betray the government for political reasons by sabotaging the year's harvest and the son's efforts to stop his own father to protect the Soviet state, culminating in the boy's murder and a social uprising. The film draws its title from a story by Ivan Turgenev, but is based on the life of Pavlik Morozov, a young Russian boy who became a political martyr following his death in 1932, after he denounced his father to Soviet government authorities and subsequently died at the hands of his family. Pavlik Morozov was immortalized in school programs, poetry, music, and in film.Commissioned by a communist youth group, the film's production ran from 1935 to 1937, until it was halted by the central Soviet government, which said it contained artistic, social, and political failures. Some, however, blamed the failure of Bezhin Meadow on government interference and policies, extending all the way to Joseph Stalin himself. In the wake of the film's failure, Eisenstein publicly recanted his work as an error. Individuals were arrested during and after the ensuing debacle.Bezhin Meadow was long thought lost in the wake of World War II bombings. In the 1960s, however, cuttings and partial prints of the film were found; from these, a reconstruction of Bezhin Meadow, based on the original script, was undertaken. Rich in religious symbolism, the film and its history became the focus of academic study. The film was extensively discussed both inside and outside of the film industry for its historical nature, the odd circumstances of its production and failure, and its imagery, which is considered some of the greatest in cinema. In spite of the failure of Bezhin Meadow, Eisenstein would rebound to win Soviet acclaim and awards, and become artistic director of a major film studio.

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. (commonly known as Columbia Pictures or simply Columbia) is an American film studio, production company and film distributor that is a member of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, a division of Sony Entertainment's Sony Pictures subsidiary of the Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony Corporation.What would eventually become Columbia Pictures, CBC Film Sales Corporation, was founded on June 19, 1918 by Harry Cohn, his brother Jack Cohn, and Joe Brandt. It adopted the Columbia Pictures name in 1924 and went public two years later. In its early years, it was a minor player in Hollywood, but began to grow in the late 1920s, spurred by a successful association with director Frank Capra. With Capra and others, Columbia became one of the primary homes of the screwball comedy. In the 1930s, Columbia's major contract stars were Jean Arthur and Cary Grant. In the 1940s, Rita Hayworth became the studio's premier star and propelled their fortunes into the late 1950s. Rosalind Russell, Glenn Ford, and William Holden also became major stars at the studio.

It is one of the leading film studios in the world and is a member of the "Big Five" major American film studios. It was one of the so-called "Little Three" among the eight major film studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. Today, it has become the world's fifth largest major film studio.

Darling of the Gods

Darling of the Gods (German: Liebling der Götter) is a 1930 German musical drama film directed by Hanns Schwarz and starring Emil Jannings, Renate Müller and Olga Tschechowa. Jannings had recently returned from Hollywood where the arrival of sound films had harmed his career. The film was made at the Babelsburg studios, and based on the play Die Tokaier by Hans Müller. It was made by Erich Pommer's production unit, part of the German Major film studio UFA. It premiered at the Gloria-Palast in Berlin on 13 October 1930.

Film studio

A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own privately owned studio facility or facilities that are used to make films, which is handled by the production company. The majority of firms in the entertainment industry have never owned their own studios, but have rented space from other companies.

There are also independently owned studio facilities, who have never produced a motion picture of their own because they are not entertainment companies or motion picture companies; they are companies who sell only studio space.

The largest film studio in the world is Ramoji Film City, in Hyderabad, India.

Gaumont Film Company

The Gaumont Film Company (, French pronunciation: ​[ɡomɔ̃]; often shorted to Gaumont) is a French major film studio founded by the engineer-turned-inventor Léon Gaumont (1864–1946), in 1895. It is the first and oldest film company in the world, founded before other studios such as Pathé (founded in 1896), Titanus (1904), Nordisk Film (1906), Universal and Paramount (both founded in 1912) The company headquarters are in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.Gaumont predominantly produces, co-produces, and distributes films, and in 2011, 95% of Gaumont's consolidated revenues came from the film division. The company is increasingly becoming a TV series producer with its new American subsidiary Gaumont International Television as well as its existing French production features.

Gaumont is run by Nicolas Seydoux (President), Sidonie Dumas (General Director) and Christophe Riandee (Deputy General Director).

HBO Films

HBO Films (formerly called HBO Premiere Films and HBO Pictures) is a division of the cable television network HBO that produces feature films and miniseries. The division produces fiction and non-fiction works, primarily for distribution to their own customers, though recently the company has been funding theatrical releases.

HBO Films slates three or four films per year and develops most them internally with theatrical films being distributed by Warner Bros.

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein (; born March 19, 1952) is an American film producer. He and his brother Bob Weinstein co-founded the entertainment company Miramax, which produced several successful independent films, including Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), The Crying Game (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Heavenly Creatures (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), and Shakespeare in Love (1998). Weinstein won an Academy Award for producing Shakespeare in Love, and garnered seven Tony Awards for a variety of plays and musicals, including The Producers, Billy Elliot the Musical, and August: Osage County. After leaving Miramax, Weinstein and his brother Bob founded The Weinstein Company, a mini-major film studio. He was co-chairman, alongside Bob, from 2005 to 2017.

In October 2017, following sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein, he was dismissed from his company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. By October 31, over 80 women had made allegations against Weinstein. The allegations sparked the #MeToo social media campaign and many similar sexual abuse allegations against and dismissals of powerful men around the world, now called the "Weinstein effect". On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was arrested in New York, charged with rape and other offenses, and released on bail.

I Like It Like That (film)

I Like It Like That is a 1994 comedy-drama film about the trials and tribulations of a young Puerto Rican couple living in the poverty-stricken New York City neighborhood of the South Bronx. The film stars Lauren Velez, Jon Seda, Lisa Vidal, Griffin Dunne, Jesse Borrego and Rita Moreno, and was written and directed by Darnell Martin who, in her filmmaking debut, became the first African-American female filmmaker to take helm of a film produced by a major film studio.

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.

Independent film

An independent film, independent movie, indie film or indie movie, is a feature film or short film that is produced outside the major film studio system, in addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies. Independent films are sometimes distinguishable by their content and style and the way in which the filmmakers' personal artistic vision is realized. Usually, but not always, independent films are made with considerably lower budgets than major studio films.Generally, the marketing of independent films is characterized by limited release, but can also have major marketing campaigns and a wide release. Independent films are often screened at local, national, or international film festivals before distribution (theatrical or retail release). An independent film production can rival a mainstream film production if it has the necessary funding and distribution.

John Calley

John Nicholas Calley (July 8, 1930 – September 13, 2011) was an American film studio executive and producer. He was quite influential during his years at Warner Bros. (where he worked from 1968 to 1981) and "produced a film a month, on average, including commercial successes like The Exorcist and Superman." During his seven years at Sony Pictures starting in 1996, five of which he was chairman and chief executive, he was credited with "reinvigorat[ing]" that major film studio.

Lionsgate Films

Lionsgate Films (formerly known as Cinépix Film Properties) is an American film production and film distribution studio, headquartered in Santa Monica and founded in French Canada, and is the flagship division of Lionsgate Entertainment. It is the largest and most successful mini-major film studio in North America. It focuses on foreign and independent films and has distributed various commercially successful film series, including The Hunger Games, Rambo, Divergent, The Punisher (prior to Marvel Studios acquiring its rights back in 2013), John Wick, Saw, Madea, Blair Witch, Now You See Me, Hostel, The Expendables, Sinister, The Twilight Saga and Step Up (both partially, via the firm's 2012 acquisition of two franchise's distributor Summit Entertainment; the latter was distributed by Disney's Touchstone Pictures since its first film), .

Low-budget film

A low-budget film or low-budget movie is a motion picture shot with little to no funding from a major film studio or private investor. Many independent films are made on low budgets, but films made on the mainstream circuit with inexperienced or unknown filmmakers can also have low budgets. Many young or first time filmmakers shoot low-budget films to prove their talent before doing bigger productions. Many low-budget films that do not gain some form of attention or acclaim are never released in theatres and are often sent straight to retail because of its lack of marketability, look, story, or premise. There is no precise number to define a low budget production, and it is relative to both genre and country. What might be a low-budget film in one country may be a big budget in another. Modern-day young filmmakers rely on film festivals for pre promotion. They use this to gain acclaim and attention for their films, which often leads to a limited release in theatres. Film that acquire a cult following may be given a wide release. Low-budget films can be either professional productions or amateur. They are either shot using professional or consumer equipment.

Some genres are more conducive to low-budget filmmaking than others. Horror films are a very popular genre for low-budget directorial debuts. Jeremy Gardner, director of The Battery says that horror fans are more attracted to how the films affect them than seeing movie stars. This allows horror films to focus more on provoking a reaction than on expensive casting choices. Thriller films are also a popular choice for low-budget films, as they focus on narrative. Science fiction films, which were once the domain of B movies, frequently require a big budget to accommodate their special effects, but low-cost do-it-yourself computer-generated imagery can make them affordable, especially when they focus on story and characterization. Plot devices like shooting as found footage can lower production costs, and scripts that rely on extended dialogue, such as Reservoir Dogs or Sex, Lies, and Videotape, can entertain audiences without many sets.The money flow in filmmaking is a unique system because of the uncertainty of demand. The makers of the film do not know how well the film they release will be received. They may predict a film will do very well and pay back the cost of production, but only get a portion back. Or the opposite may happen where a project that few think will go far can bring in more profit than imaginable. A big gambling variable that is also involved is the use of stars. Frequently stars are brought on to a project to gain the film publicity and fame. This process can be profitable, but it is not a foolproof mechanism to successful funding. Well-known actors may join a low-budget film for a portion of the gross.

New Queer Cinema

"New Queer Cinema" is a term first coined by the academic B. Ruby Rich in Sight & Sound magazine in 1992 to define and describe a movement in queer-themed independent filmmaking in the early 1990s. The term developed from use of the word queer in academic writing in the 1980s and 1990s as an inclusive way of describing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender identity and experience, and also defining a form of sexuality that was fluid and subversive of traditional understandings of sexuality. Also, the major film studio to discuss these issues was aptly named New Line Cinema with its Fine Line Cinema division. Since 1992, the phenomenon has also been described by various other academics and has been used to describe several other films released since the 1990s. Films of the New Queer Cinema movement typically share certain themes, such as the rejection of heteronormativity and the lives of LGBT protagonists living on the fringe of society.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures Corporation (also known simply as Paramount) is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the "Big Five" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.

In 1916, film producer Adolph Zukor put 22 actors and actresses under contract and honored each with a star on the logo. In 2014, Paramount Pictures became the first major Hollywood studio to distribute all of its films in digital form only. The company's headquarters and studios are located at 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California, United States.Paramount Pictures is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Republic Pictures

Republic Pictures Corporation was an American motion picture production-distribution corporation in operation from 1935 to 1967, that was based in Los Angeles, California. It had studio facilities in Studio City and a movie ranch in Encino. It was best known for specializing in Westerns, serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action. Republic was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. It was also responsible for the financing and distribution of several John Ford-directed films during the 1940s and early 1950s and one Shakespeare film, Macbeth (1948), directed by Orson Welles. Under Herbert J. Yates, Republic was considered a mini-major film studio.

Shoot the Moon

Shoot the Moon is a 1982 American drama film directed by Alan Parker, and written by Bo Goldman. It stars Albert Finney, Diane Keaton, Karen Allen, Peter Weller and Dana Hill. Set in Marin County, California, the film follows George (Finney) and Faith Dunlap (Keaton), whose deteriorating marriage, separation and love affairs devastate their four children. The title of the film references the move of "shooting the moon" in the card game Hearts.

Goldman began writing the script in 1971, deriving inspiration from his encounters with dysfunctional couples. He spent several years trying to secure a major film studio to produce it before taking it to 20th Century Fox. Parker learned of the script as he was developing Fame (1980), and he later worked with Goldman to rewrite it. After an unsuccessful pre-production development at Fox, Parker moved the project to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which provided a budget of $12 million. Principal photography lasted 62 days, in the period from January to April 1981, on location in Marin County.

Shoot the Moon premiered on February 19, 1982 to mostly positive reviews, but was deemed a box-office failure, having grossed only $9.2 million in North America. It later competed for the Palme d'Or at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, and received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor – Drama (Finney) and Best Actress – Drama (Keaton).

The King Maker

The King Maker (Thai: กบฎท้าวศรีสุดาจันทร์, or The Rebellion of Queen Sudachan, is a 2005 Thai historical drama film set during the Ayutthaya kingdom. With a storyline that shares many similarities to 2001's The Legend of Suriyothai, The King Maker's plot focuses on a Portuguese mercenary (Gary Stretch) in the service of the Siamese court. Produced by David Winters, it was the first English-language Thai film production since the 1941 film, King of the White Elephant, produced by Pridi Phanomyong. This was also the first Thai film sold to a "Major film studio".

Film studios in the United States and Canada
Majors
Mini-majors
Independent
studios
Independent
financers
Producer-owned
independents
By style
By theme
By movement
or period
By demographic groups
By format,
technique,
approach,
or production

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