Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Warner Bros. Launch

Tom Sito, our history expert, tells us:

Jan 27, 1918- Warner Bros. Pictures incorporated. The Brothers Warner- Sam Albert, Harry and Jack were the sons of Jewish immigrants named Wonskolasser who had moved from Poland in 1882 and set up a bicycle repair shop in Ohio. They later acquired a movie projector and showed films in Pennsylvania miners camps. Their first movie was Five Years in Germany.

Throughout the 1920’s their little studio survived making pictures with dog star Rin Tin Tin. They called him the Mortgage Lifter, because the profits from his pictures paid their bills. Later they bought Vitagraph Studio from James Stuart Blackton and gambled on the new Sound technology. When they made The Jazz Singer with Jolson, Warner Bros became a major studio. ...

In the twenties, thirties, and forties (we're talking about the last century), M-G-M was the Tiffany of film studios, and among the top movie factories in terms of profits.

And yet today M-G-M is an anemic nameplate of a film studio that gets sold and resold, almost for laughs. (Ted Turner made off with its live-action and cartoon library back in the 1990s.)

Funny how the rubber ball of Fate bounces. Seventy or eighty years ago, nobody would have guessed that a tiny animation studio headed by a mid-Westerner or a ramshackle movie company run by the brothers Warner would be the two monster entertainment conglomerates in the 21st century.

But here we are. M-G-M is a historical footnote and those other two companies launched on shoe-strings are the power-houses.


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