Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (commonly known as MGM and also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.), is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of films and television programs. It is responsible for the creation of Tom and Jerry and Droopy cartoons via its cartoon studio.
The rights to MGM's cartoons are currently owned by Warner Bros. MGM was bought by Amazon in 2022.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was established on April 17, 1924, following the merger of Metro Pictures Corporation, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures. It was established under the governance of theater chain Loews, Inc. In 1952, as a settlement of the government's restraint-of-trade action, United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. 334 US 131 (1948), Loews, Inc. gave up control of MGM.
MGM cartoon shorts
MGM had been involved in the distribution of cartoons since 1930, when it started distributing Ub Iwerks' Flip the Frog cartoons.
In 1934, MGM contracted with animation producers/directors Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising to produce a new series of color cartoons. Harman and Ising came to MGM after breaking ties with Leon Schlesinger and Warner Bros., and brought with them their popular Looney Tunes character, Bosko. These were known as Happy Harmonies, and in many ways resembled the Looney Tunes' sister series, Merrie Melodies. The Happy Harmonies regularly ran over budget, and MGM dismissed Harman-Ising in 1937 to start its own animation studio. initial struggles with a poorly received series of The Captain and the Kids cartoons, the studio rehired Harman and Ising in 1939, and Ising created the studio's first successful animated character, Barney Bear. However, MGM's biggest cartoon stars would come in the form of the cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry, created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in 1940. The Tom and Jerry cartoons won seven Academy Awards between 1943 and 1953. In 1941, Tex Avery, another Schlesinger alumnus, joined the animation department. Avery gave the unit its image, with successes like the Droopy series.
Avery left the studio in 1953, leaving Hanna and Barbera to focus on the Tom and Jerry and Droopy series.
The year 1957 marked the end of MGM's animation department, as the studio determined it could generate the same amount of revenue by reissuing older cartoons as it could by producing and releasing new ones. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, by then the heads of the MGM cartoon studio, took most of their unit and made their own company, HB Enterprises. HB Enterprises would later be renamed Hanna-Barbera Productions.
In 1961, MGM resumed the release of new Tom and Jerry shorts, and production moved to Rembrandt Films in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) under the supervision of Gene Deitch. Deitch's Tom and Jerry cartoons are very different in style from the original Hanna and Barbera style of animation. In 1963, the production of Tom and Jerry returned to Hollywood under Chuck Jones and his Sib Tower 12 Productions studio (later absorbed by MGM and renamed MGM Animation/Visual Arts). Jones' group also produced The Dot and the Line, as well as producing the classic television version of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (with the voice of Boris Karloff) in 1966. This run of Tom and Jerry ended in 1967, and the last short created by Sib Tower 12 for MGM was The Bear That Wasn't.
MGM purchased United Artists in 1981 and formed MGM/UA.
On August 7, 1985, Turner Broadcasting System offered to buy MGM/UA. As film licensing to television became more complicated, Ted Turner saw the value of acquiring MGM's film library for his Superstation WTBS. On March 25 of the following year, the deal was finalised in a cash-stock deal for $1.5 billion, and the company was renamed "MGM Entertainment Co.". Turner immediately sold MGM's United Artists subsidiary back to Kirk Kerkorian for roughly $480 million. But unable to find financing for the rest of the deal, and due to concerns in the financial community over the debt-load of his companies, on August 26, 1986, Turner was forced to sell MGM's production and distribution assets to United Artists for $300 million. The MGM lot and lab facilities were sold to Lorimar-Telepictures. Turner kept the pre-May 1986 library of MGM films, along with the RKO Radio Pictures and pre-1950 Warner Bros. films which United Artists had previously purchased.
How much of MGM's back catalog Turner actually obtained was a point of conflict for a time; eventually, it was determined that Turner owned all of the pre-May 1986 MGM library, as well as the pre-1950 Warner Bros. catalog, the Popeye cartoons released by Paramount (both the pre-1950 WB library and Popeye cartoons were sold to Associated Artists Productions, which was later bought by United Artists), the US/Canadian rights to the RKO library, in addition to MGM's television series and Gilligan's Island, produced by UA. Turner began broadcasting MGM films through his Turner Network Television, and caused a controversy when he began "colorizing" many black-and-white classics. His Turner Entertainment Group had risen to success in part through its ownership of the pre-May 1986 MGM library.
The MGM library
Following his brief ownership of the company in 1986, Ted Turner formed Turner Entertainment as a holding company for the pre-May 1986 MGM film and television library, which he retained. After Turner's holding were purchased by Time Warner in 1996, they ultimately became integrated into the Warner Bros. library, though the copyright claimant to these titles is still "Turner Entertainment Co." For some time after the sale, MGM continued to handle home video distribution of its pre-May 1986 film and TV library and began to handle home video distribution of the pre-1950 Warner Bros. films; those rights were reassigned to Warner Home Video in 1999.
- Barbera, J: How Bill & Joe met Tom & Jerry, interviews with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Warner Home Video, 2005
- "Chicago Tribune: Turner May Sell Equity In Company"
- "Turner Sells The Studio, Holds On To The Dream – Los Angeles Times"
- "Turner To Sell Mgm Assets"
- "Turner, United Artists Close Deal"
- "Media History Digital Library : Free Texts : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive"
- WB retained a pair of features from 1949 that they merely distributed, and all short subjects released on or after September 1, 1948, in addition to all cartoons released on or after August 1, 1948.
- "Turner Sells Fabled MGM but Keeps a Lion's Share"
- "MGM REGAINS VIDEO RIGHTS; $225 MILLION DEAL TO HELP SELL DVDS. - Free Online Library"