Turner Entertainment Company is an American multimedia company founded by Ted Turner in 1986. Purchased by Time Warner in 1996 as part of its acquisition of Turner Broadcasting System, the company was largely responsible for overseeing the TBS library for worldwide distribution. In recent years, this role has largely been limited to being the copyright holder, as it has become an in-name-only subsidiary of Warner Bros., which currently administers their library.
BackgroundOn March 25, 1986, Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting System purchased Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from Kirk Kerkorian for $600 million, and renamed it MGM Entertainment Company, Inc. However, due to concerns in the financial community over the debt-load of his companies, on August 26, 1986, he was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian for approximately $300 million. However, Turner kept MGM's film, television and cartoon library as well as a small portion of the United Artists library, forming Turner Entertainment Company in order to manage the library. The library also included the pre-1950 Warner Bros. library, the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons originally released by Paramount Pictures, the US/Canadian/Latin American/Australian distribution rights to the RKO Radio Pictures library, and most of the Gilligan's Island television franchise, all of which were owned by United Artists. In December 1987, Turner acquired the worldwide rights through license, to 800 RKO films from its then-parent company Wesray Capital Corporation.
On October 3, 1988, Turner Broadcasting launched the TNT network, and later Turner Classic Movies in 1994 to use their former MGM/UA library. In doing so, Turner has played a major part in film preservation and restoration. By broadcasting such classic films as The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Singin' in the Rain, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, King Kong, Easter Parade and the original The Jazz Singer, on numerous Turner affiliated cable channels, as well as in showing them in revival movie houses and home video around the world, Turner introduces a new generation to these films and makes sure these films are not forgotten.
On November 29, 1989, Turner made another attempt to buy MGM/UA, but the deal failed, and they formed Turner Pictures and Turner Pictures Worldwide instead.
In 1991, Turner purchased Hanna-Barbera Productions and most of the pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library from Great American Broadcasting. Shortly after the acquisition, Turner Broadcasting launched Cartoon Network, and later Boomerang, to use its vast animation library.
In 1993, Turner purchased Castle Rock Entertainment and New Line Cinema.
Turner Entertainment self-distributed much of its library for the first decade of its existence, but on October 10, 1996, Turner Broadcasting was purchased by Time Warner and its distribution functions were largely absorbed into Warner Bros. and as a result, Turner is now an in-name-only subsidiary of Warner, serving merely as a copyright holder for a portion of their library. Hanna-Barbera's current purpose as the in-name only unit of Warner Bros. Animation is to serve as the copyright holder for its creations such as The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear while Warner Bros. handle sales and merchandising.
Production companyTurner Entertainment, as a production company, also creates original in-house programming, such as documentaries about the films it owns, new animated material based on Tom & Jerry and other related cartoon properties, and once produced made-for-TV movies, miniseries, and theatrical films such as Gettysburg, ', Fallen, The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance under the Turner Pictures banner. Turner also had an international distribution sales unit, accordingly named Turner Pictures Worldwide Distribution, Inc.''' Turner Pictures was folded into Warner Bros. after the Turner-Time Warner merger, and currently holds the distribution rights to the films made by the production division.
Turner Feature AnimationTurner Feature Animation was Turner's Animation unit headed by David Kirschner and Paul Gertz. The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance were produced under Turner's animation unit. Spun off from the feature film division of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Turner Feature Animation was folded into, which was then merged into Warner Bros. Animation.
Home videoIn the first decade of its existence, Turner released most of its own catalogue on home video through Turner Home Entertainment. However, the MGM and Warner film libraries which Turner owned were still distributed by MGM/UA Home Video along with THE until their rights expired in 1999, while THE handled the home video distribution of titles from the RKO library. THE released films produced by Turner Pictures on home video with their distributors and independently released the Hanna-Barbera cartoon library on home video.
THE also released World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view events, wrestler profiles, and "Best Of" packages on video until the demise of WCW in 2001; the WCW video library, along with the rights to the WCW name and certain talent contracts, were sold to the World Wrestling Federation in March 2001.
From early 1995 to early 1997, THE also distributed home video releases from New Line Home Video, taking over from Columbia TriStar Home Video as well as distributing PBS programs on home video the year before. NLHE distributed New Line films on video by itself from 1997 until the Warner Bros. New Line Cinema merger in 2008. PBS shows are now distributed on video and DVD by PBS's own distribution company, PBS Distribution.
In 1995, THE entered a distribution deal with Columbia TriStar Home Video in France, Britain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the deal expired in 1997.
Upon the Turner-Time Warner merger, THE was absorbed into Warner Home Video as an in-name-only unit in December 1996. However, Turner Classic Movies does release special edition DVD boxsets of films from both the Turner and Warner catalogs under the TCM label.
LibraryTurner Entertainment's current library includes:
- The Brut Productions library
- Nearly all of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film, television and cartoon library released prior to May 23, 1986
- Material from MGM's predecessors post-1915 that did not enter the public domain
- Some material from United Artists, including:
- * The US and Canadian distribution rights to the RKO Radio Pictures library
- * Most of the Gilligan's Island franchise
- * The former Associated Artists Productions catalogue, which includes:
- ** Warner Bros.' library of films released prior to January 1, 1950
- *** The pre-August 1948 Warner Bros. Cartoons library
- **** The Harman and Ising-produced Merrie Melodies cartoons
- ** The Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons, originally released by Paramount Pictures between 1933 and 1957
- The majority of the Hanna-Barbera Productions library
- * Almost all of the pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Enterprises library