Warner Bros. (an abbreviation for Warner Bros. Entertainment) is one of the world's largest producers of film and television entertainment. It is presently a subsidiary of the Time Warner conglomerate and headquartered in Burbank, California.
Warner Bros. (WB) includes several subsidiary companies, among them Warner Bros. Studios, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, Warner Home Video, Castle Rock Entertainment, Turner Entertainment and, Hanna-Barbera Productions, although the latter's properties are managed directly by WB or the Cartoon Network.
The first WB enterprise, Warner Brothers Studios, was co-founded in Hollywood, California, in 1923 by four brothers, Harry Warner (1881-1958), Albert Warner (1882-1967), Sam Warner (1887-1927) and Jack Warner (1892-1978).
The first major star of the studio was a dog, Rin Tin Tin. The canine actor is credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin made 26 films for WB starting in 1924 with "Man From Hell's River."
In 1927, the brothers took a big financial risk that paid off handsomely: they invested in the new technology of sound for movies, and produced The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson. The movie was a sensational box-office hit, sparking the wave of "talking pictures" and ending the era of silent movies. The success led Warner Bros. to buy the First National studio lot in Burbank in 1929. For many years afterwards, Warner Bros. features filmed in Burbank bore the words "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture."
During the 1930s, the Warner Bros. Studio became known for producing gritty, dark crime films that were accused of glorifying the gangster lifestyle. Movie stars such as James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart rose to fame at WB portraying gangster and other tough guys. WB also produced a number of action-adventure movies, practically monopolizing the genre of the swashbuckler, and forever identifying the name of Errol Flynn with Robin Hood.
WB's cartoon studio began modestly in 1930 under the management of Leon Schlesinger, as former Disney animators Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, Jack King, and Friz Freleng directed a series of mediocre cartoons starring Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid and Buddy. However, with the arrival of Tex Avery at the studio and the birth of Termite Terrace, the studio gave birth to a new wave of insane cartoons that captured the hearts and funny bones of fans around the world. The studio was bought outright by Warner Bros. in the mid-1940s, and in subsequent decades characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck became central figures of the company's image.
In January 5, 1948, Warner Brothers was the first to show a color newsreel. The subjects of the newsreel was the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl.
In January 11, 1995, Warner Bros. created The WB Television Network as a broadcast outlet for Warner Brothers' TV properties. Among its early programming included Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 7th Heaven and Dawson's Creek. Ironically, none of these three programs that helped to anchor the WB were produced by Warner Brothers. Buffy was produced by Fox, 7th Heaven by Aaron Spelling's production unit (a unit of Paramount Pictures/Viacom), and Dawson's Creek by Columbia Tri-Star Television.
In the late 1990s, Warner Bros. obtained the rights to produce the Harry Potter films and released the first one in 2001 the second one in 2002 and the third one in 2004 .
Over the years, a series of mergers and acquisitions have led WB (the present-day Time-Warner subsidiary) to acquire a diverse collection of movies, cartoons, and television programs.
In 1956, the advent of television led WB to sell its early films and cartoons (pre-1948) to a holding company which became Associated Artists Productions (AAP), for broadcast under AAP's label. Two years later, AAP sold the assets to United Artists (UA); they held it until 1986, when MGM bought UA. Turner Broadcasting System bought the rights to MGM films made before 1986. The early WB film library was acquired by Time-Warner when they bough Turner.
These acquisitions, among others, mean that WB owns all pre-1986 titles from MGM and a majority of the RKO Radio Pictures library, the Hanna-Barbera Productions library of television cartoons, and the Lorimar television and film holdings.
UA donated pre-1949 Warner Bros. nitrates to the Library of Congress and post-1951 negatives to UCLA's film library.
Notable WB movies
The following is a partial list of films that Warner Bros. has produced, co-produced, and/or distributed: