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Discussion in 'DVD' started by Junior_V, May 17, 2008.
Wich company owns thr rights to United Artists movies?
I don't know all the details of the cut-off years, but MGM purchased UA and got it's library; this was after Ted Turner sold off the company and kept the old MGM pre-1960 titles. And then in 2006, as part of complicated financing deal of Sony/Columbia buying the the MGM studio/current production, FOX got distribution rights to the MGM library, which also included UA titles. I'm sure others know more details of these deals and will correct any of my inaccuracies.
That is one loaded question. When UA was formed in 1919 by Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, along with a lawyer named William McAdoo it was just as a distribution company. The films the company released were owned by the stars or producers of those films. That is the reason there are so few early titles in the catalogue. Samuel Goldwyn released his films and Walt Disney released his cartoons through UA until about 1941. As the dynamics of the movie business changed, the independent producers left to either form their own company or were hired to work for another company. A majority of the films they released before the 50’s is controlled by several different entities which are too numerous to name, but include some of the existing companies now. Such as MGM owning the Samuel Goldwyn Company’s output.
In 1952 there was resurgence in the company when it was operated by Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin and then purchased by them in 1955. The two guys went after every independent producer they could find and made many deals for foreign films. They were looking to the future and included the ancillary rights in their deals with most of the producers. TV was starting to be a major outlet for extra money and they wanted to cash in.
During the next three decades UA released James Bond, Pink Panther, and Rocky franchisees along with many westerns including the Clint Eastwood spaghetti ones. The company was purchased in 1967 by Transamerica, an insurance company. Transamerica, despite some great releases was never as successful as Krim and Benjamin were and after the debacles with the filming of Heaven’s Gate, the sold the company to Kirk Kerkorian, who owned MGM and United Artists became subsidiary of MGM.
All the films in the UA catalogue were then controlled by MGM. Even with Kerkorian selling the assets of MGM to Ted Turner, he held on to the rights of the UA films.
It gets convoluted now since Turner and Kerkorian sold assets back and forth and then Kerkorian sold the company to Italian promoter Giancarlo Parretti in 1990 and then regain control when Parretti could not pay the debt, but MGM has controlled all the rights to all the UA films that UA controlled from about 1951 forward. There are still some films that have escaped the hands of MGM such as The African Queen (Paramount controls this now) and many foreign films. The Library is very rich and of all the different libraries that MGM controls (Orion, American International, Polygram, Samuel Goldwyn, and others) this is the most important. There are a lot of wonderful still unreleased films that I look forward to.
If you have a specific title that you would like to see released, it is difficult to understand where the rights reside. There are a lot knowledgeable members at this forum and I am sure any question here would get a correct answer.
How could Warner release "Gun Crazy" wich is a Unitad Artist film
This is just a shot in the dark re: Gun Crazy, but I think UA was the distributor of the film while the King Brothers was the production company. My guess is WHV controls that catalog.
The "UA" library at MGM is really just what they retained. A lot of independent stuff reverted back like the films of Charlie Chaplin, Howard Hughes (later sold to MCA/Universal), David O. Selznick, Saul Zaentz, etc. There's also some stuff UA picked up over the years in various small packages. The pre-1948 Warner Bros. library was part of UA for years until Turner bought it along with the MGM library.
That's why UA films like Hell's Angels, A Hard Day's Night, City Lights, many Disney and Walter Lantz cartoons, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Around the World in 80 Days, and Rebecca aren't controlled by MGM today.
Also, the classic MGM films (not the library, but the actual MGM films) are owned by WB up until about mid-1986. That's why WB owns The Year of the Dragon but not Poltergeist II (both 1986 releases).
But why tell the story when you can sing it?
YouTube - Katie Melua: Mary Pickford
GUN CRAZY was originally released by Fox on vhs.
Another thing to note: Gun Crazy was acquired by Lorimar (whom Warner owns outright) sometime in the mid-70's, its one of only a couple UA titles they own, most of which Pat just listed.
Well, that explains it. Lorimar also had the Allied Artists library (which is how WB got Friendly Persuasion and House on Haunted Hill).
When I worked at FOX video (CBS/FOX) in the 80's they had the video rights to the UA catalog, seems they've got them once again
Makes sense. I remember the original VHS releases of pre 48 Warner films such as Casablanca and UA features like the James Bond films were released by CBS/Fox video . Both were controled by UA at the time. Casablanca went first to MGM/UA video and finally to Warner Bros. Video. For some reason in Canada the pre 48 Warner films were released by Warners at the time MGM/UA had the rights in the US. I thought at the time in was great to buy a Warner Bros movie on a Warner Bros VHS. The films still started with the UA logo before the Warner logo.
Fox don't have the rights to UA films. MGM have the rights. Fox simply distribute the DVDs on behalf of MGM.
The CBS/FOX thing was a holdover from Magnetic Video Corporation, Fox Video's immediate predecessor, whom which UA (before they were bought out) signed a 10 year contract with that carried over after Fox bought that label outright. When that expired in 1988, MGM took over distribution.
Let's not forget the primary reason for MGM buying United Artists after the Heaven's Gate fiasco: at the time, MGM product was distributed by UA. By buying UA, MGM now had distribution in-house. Parallel to that, keep in mind that UA distributed several films for independent producers, and some of those producers merely hired UA for distribution purposes (think of George Lucas' recent dealings with Fox as an analogue).
So you can see, asking who holds the rights to a UA film is really a loaded question.