Warner Bros. Pictures is an American film production and distribution company of the Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group division of Warner Bros. Entertainment (both ultimately owned by Warner Bros. Discovery). The studio is the flagship producer of live-action feature films within the Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group unit, and is based at the Warner Bros. Studios complex in Burbank, California. Animated films produced by Warner Bros. Pictures Animation are also released under the studio banner.
|Predecessor||Warner Features Company|
|Founded||April 4, 1923|
|Owner||Warner Bros. Discovery|
|Parent||Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group|
|Footnotes / references|
Warner Bros. Pictures is currently one of five live-action film studios within the Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, the others being New Line Cinema, DC Studios, Castle Rock Entertainment, and a minority stake in Spyglass Media Group. Barbie is the studio's highest-grossing film worldwide with $1.4 billion.
Founded in 1923 by brothers Harry Warner, Albert Warner, Sam Warner, and Jack L. Warner, in addition to producing its own films, it handles filmmaking operations, theatrical distribution, marketing and promotion for films produced and released by other Warner Bros. labels, including Warner Bros. Pictures Animation, New Line Cinema, DC Studios, and Castle Rock Entertainment, as well as various third-party producers.
The studio's predecessor (and the modern-day Warner Bros Entertainment as a whole) was founded as the Warner Features Company in New Castle, Pennsylvania, by filmmaker Sam Warner and his business partners and brothers, Harry, Albert, and Jack, in 1911. They produced their first film, the Peril of the Plains in 1912, which Sam directed for the St. Louis Motion Picture Company. In 1915, Sam and Jack moved to California to establish their production studio, while Albert and Harry on July 8, 1915, set up the New York–based Warner Brothers Distributing Corporation to release the films. In 1918, the four Warner Brothers produced their first full-scale picture: My Four Years in Germany. The war film was a box office hit and helped the brothers establish themselves as a prestige studio.
On April 4, 1923, Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. was officially established as their main focus was entirely on the motion picture industry. In 1927, Warner Bros. Pictures revolutionized the film industry when the American-Jewish Warner brothers released their first pictures "talkie" The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. However, founding member Sam Warner died prior to the premiere of the film. When the company diversified over the years, it was eventually rebranded to its current umbrella name, but Warner Bros. Pictures continued to be used as the name of the film production arm of the company.
The studio has released twenty-five films that have received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination: Disraeli (1929), I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), 42nd Street (1933), Here Comes the Navy (1934), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four Daughters (1938), Jezebel (1938), Dark Victory (1939), to name a few.
In the aftermath of the 1948 antitrust suit, uncertain times led Warner Bros. in 1956 to sell most of its pre-1950 films and cartoons to Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.). In addition, a.a.p. also obtained the Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios Popeye cartoons, originally from Paramount Pictures. Two years later, a.a.p. was sold to United Artists, which owned the company until 1981, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired United Artists.
In November 1966, Jack gave in to advancing age and changing times, selling 32% of control of the studio and music business to Seven Arts Productions, run by Canadian investors Elliot and Kenneth Hyman, for $32 million. Eventually, the company, including the studio, was renamed Warner Bros.-Seven Arts on July 14, 1967.
In 1986, Turner Broadcasting System acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Finding itself in debt, Turner kept the pre-May 1986 MGM film and television libraries and a small portion of the United Artists library (including the a.a.p. library and North American rights to the RKO Radio Pictures library) while spinning off the rest of MGM.
In 1989, Warner Communications acquired Lorimar-Telepictures Corporation and merged with Time Inc. to form Time Warner (now Warner Bros. Discovery. Lorimar's catalogue included the post-1974 library of Rankin/Bass Productions, and the post-1947 library of Monogram Pictures/Allied Artists Pictures Corporation.
In 1991, Turner Broadcasting System acquired animation studio Hanna-Barbera and the Ruby-Spears library from Great American Broadcasting, and years later, Turner Broadcasting System acquired Castle Rock Entertainment on December 22, 1993 and New Line Cinema on January 28, 1994. On October 10, 1996, Time Warner acquired Turner Broadcasting System, thus bringing Warner Bros.'s pre-1950 library back home. In addition, Warner Bros. only owns Castle Rock Entertainment's post-1994 library.
Warner Bros. Pictures edit
The division was incorporated as Warner Bros. Pictures on March 3, 2003, to diversify film subjects and expand audiences for their film releases. The company became part of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, which was established in 2008, and Jeff Robinov was appointed the first president of the company. In 2017, longtime New Line executive Toby Emmerich joined as president. In January 2018, he was elevated to chairman. On October 23, 2018, it was announced Lynne Frank, President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, would be leaving the company to pursue new opportunities. In June 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures signed an agreement with SF Studios to have their films distributed in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.
As with most other film distributors, Warner Bros. Pictures struggled with releasing films during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions on theater openings. After pushing several films planned for 2020 into 2021, WB announced in December 2020 that they would take the unusual approach of having their entire slate of 2021 films planned for both theatrical release as well as having a simultaneous one-month period of availability on the HBO Max streaming service, in a similar manner for how they were releasing Wonder Woman 1984 that month. After one month, such films would still be available in theaters and would then later be available via home media under typical release schedules. The move to include streaming, dubbed "Project Popcorn", was criticized by production companies, directors, and actors as Warner Bros. Pictures had not informed anyone about the plan ahead of the announcement, as well of concerns of lower payouts due to the streaming options, leading Warner Bros. Pictures to alter its compensation rates for the affected films by January 2021 to provide larger payouts to casts and crews of these films.
In March 2021 Warner Bros. announced that for 2022 they will discontinue their same-day HBO Max and theatrical release model in favor of a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window. This is part of an agreement the studio reached with Cineworld (who operates Regal Cinemas).
On June 1, 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), the company formerly known as Discovery, Inc. prior to its acquisition of WarnerMedia two months earlier, announced that Emmerich will step down as head of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group after a transition period, and that it would be divided into three separate units; Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema, DC Films, and Warner Animation Group. Former MGM executives Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy would serve as the co-chairs of Warner Bros. Pictures (and temporarily oversee the other two divisions until new executives are hired for them), while Emmerich would start his own production company and enter into a five-year distribution and funding agreement with Warner Bros. Pictures. On June 8, COO Carolyn Blackwood announced that she was stepping down as well.
Steve Spira returned as president of business affairs for Warner Bros. in June 2022, while De Luca and Abdy took over from Emmerich in July 2022. Former president Alan Horn was appointed as a consultant for WBD President David Zaslav, working with De Luca and Abdy.
In August 2022, Warner Bros. Pictures entered into a multi-year deal for distributing MGM films outside the United States, including on home entertainment. The contract included joint participation of both companies for marketing, advertising, publicity, film distribution, and relationship with exhibitors for future MGM titles. That same month, plans for film distribution at the studio were changed, with the studio relying more on theatrical releases than HBO Max-only releases.
Walter Hamada, the president of DC Films, stepped down on October 19, 2022. President of Production & Development Courtenay Valenti exited on October 28 and was replaced by Jesse Ehrman. On June 9, 2023, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group was renamed as the Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group.
Film library edit
Mergers and acquisitions have helped Warner Bros. accumulate a diverse collection of films, cartoons and television programs. As of 2022, Warner Bros. owned more than 145,000 hours of programming, including 12,500 feature films and 2,400 television programs comprising more than tens of thousands of individual episodes.
Warner Bros. owns some shared universes. Some of them are based on books and comics, including some of the highest grossing IP's in the movie industry.
|DC Extended Universe||15||Movies based on DC Comics. DCEU was Warner Bros.'s first iteration of a shared universe. The DC Universe serves as an upcoming reboot, led by James Gunn.|
|DC Universe||–||Upcoming reboot of the DC Extended Universe, led by James Gunn. First movie, expected to be released in 2025.|
|Wizarding World||11||Film rights sold by J. K. Rowling for 2 million $ and a net % of the profits. This shared universe became the 4th highest grossing IP in movie history. This universe includes 8 movies based on the Harry Potter books and 3 movies based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.|
|The Conjuring||8||Dramatized horror movies based on real-life cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. This shared universe includes movies like Annabelle, The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona.|
|MonsterVerse||4||Shared Universe based on monster movie characters like Godzilla and King Kong, in addition to other kaiju characters created by Toho, including Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Made in co-production with Legendary Entertainment.|
|Middle Earth||6||Movie series based on the books written by J. R. R. Tolkien, directed by Peter Jackson.|
|Lego||4||Warner Bros owned the rights to Lego movies up until the end of 2019. More Lego movies were planned, but got cancelled after Universal Pictures bought the rights to the Lego movies. Cancelled sequels include a sequel to The Lego Batman Movie, called Lego Superfriends.|
Film series edit
|Title||Release date||No. Films||Notes|
|Penrod and Sam||1931–38||2|
|Hanna-Barbera||1964–present||12||Owned by WB since 1996|
|Friday the 13th||1980–2009||2||co-production with Paramount Pictures and New Line Cinema|
|Blade Runner||1982–2017||2||co-production with Alcon Entertainment and Columbia Pictures|
|National Lampoon's Vacation||1983–2015||5|
|Sesame Street||1985–present||2||co-production with Sesame Workshop|
|The Lost Boys||1987–2010||3|
|Grumpy Old Men||1993–95|
|Free Willy||1993–2010||4||co-production with Regency Enterprises|
|Ace Ventura||1994–present||2||distribution only; co-production with Morgan Creek|
|Twister||1996–present||1||co-production with Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment|
|Pokémon||1999–2019||US distribution only. Co-production with The Pokémon Company|
|Deep Blue Sea||1999–2020||3|
|The Whole Yards||2000–04||2|
|Tom and Jerry||16||co-production with Turner Entertainment|
|Cats & Dogs||2001–20||3|
|Terminator||2003–09||2||co-production with Columbia Pictures|
|A Cinderella Story||2004–present||6|
|The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants||2005–08||2||co-production with Alloy Entertainment|
|The Dark Knight trilogy||2005–12||3|
|Final Destination||2009–present||2||co-production with New Line Cinema and Practical Pictures|
|The Hobbit||2012–14||3||co-production with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, New Line Cinema and WingNut Films|
|The Conjuring Universe||2013–present||7||co-production with Atomic Monster, The Safran Company and New Line Cinema|
|The Lego Movie||2014–19||4||co-production with Warner Bros. Pictures Animation and The Lego Group|
|MonsterVerse||2014–present||co-production with Legendary Pictures|
|Creed||2015–present||3||co-production with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer|
|It||2017–19||2||co-production with New Line Cinema|
|Joker||2019–present||1||co-production with DC Studios|
|Dune||2021–present||co-production with Legendary Pictures|
|The Batman||2022–present||co-production with DC Studios|
Highest-grossing films edit
- † Indicates films playing in theatres in the week commencing 1 December 2023.
|Rank||Title||Year||Box office gross|
|2||The Dark Knight ‡||2008||$534,987,076|
|3||The Dark Knight Rises||2012||$448,149,584|
|5||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2||2011||$381,447,587|
|10||Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice||2016||$330,360,194|
|13||Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ‡||2001||$318,886,962|
|14||The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 1||2012||$303,030,651|
|15||Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||2009||$302,334,374|
|16||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1||2010||$296,374,621|
|18||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||2007||$292,382,727|
|19||Man of Steel||2013||$291,045,518|
|20||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||2005||$290,469,928|
|21||The Matrix Reloaded||2003||$281,576,461|
|24||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||2002||$262,641,637|
|25||The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ||2013||$258,387,334|
‡ — Includes theatrical reissue(s)
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