Warner Brothers Studios
WARNER BROTHERS- the name’s enough!
Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety, Roadrunner sound familiar? These were some of the cartoons created by traditional animation at the Warner Bros. studio. Ever since its inception on the 4th of April 1923, WB has maintained the reputation of being a fully integrated entertainment company. Apart from animation and feature films, WB has successfully branched into television, home entertainment, comic books, product and brand licensing! This is the reason behind its reputation as one of the respected, diversified as well as successful studios in the world today.
WB began with a movie studio initially, as discussed above. Four brothers- Harry (1881-1958), Albert (1884-1967), Sam (1887-1927) and Jack (1892-1978) were the brains behind hitting the Hollywood.
While Harry ran the company from New York as its president, Albert looked after the sales and distribution. Sam and Jack took care of the studio back in Hollywood.
The credit of sound or talkies becoming a reality, goes to WB. The Warner Bros. studio were accredited with patenting the vita-phone process in the mid 1920’s itself. Don Juan (1926) is credited to be the first movie that had a synchronized musical sound track whereas a year later, The Jazz Singer had both synchronized music and dialogue. Lights of New York (1928) is remembered as the first full-length all-talking film and the 1929 released On with the Show was the first all-talking colour movie produced and released by the WB Studio. It is said that despite the Great Depression of 1929, WB was able to produce around 100 movies a year beginning from the 1930’s!
Warner Bros. from 1930’s to the late 1960’s
During the 1930’s, Warner Bros. got into film production in a big way. They managed to rope in some big stars of the day and movies like Little Caesar (1930), I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang(1932), The Petrified Forest (1936), They Won’t Forget (1937) etc were released. Apart from these potboilers, WB made films based on biographies of personalities like Benjamin Disraeli, Louis Pasteur, Benito Juarez and Émile Zola. On the animation front, it was during this time that classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons made their debut.
The start of the World War II saw a reduction in movies made by WB studios. Despite that, classics like ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941), Sergeant York (1941), King’s Row (1942), Casablanca (1942), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ (1948) were produced. Post the World War II as the 1950’s dawned, some more movies like A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Hondo (1953), Dial ‘M’ for Murder (1954), Rebel without a Cause (1955), Marjorie Morningstar (1958) hit the market. One movie that deserves special mention is the 1953 released House of Wax as it was the first 3D horror film to be made.
The 1960’s saw far- reaching changes in WB, the impact that can be seen even today. However, movies like Ocean’s 11 (1960), The Music Man (1962), My Fair Lady (1964), Bonnie and Clyde (1967) raked in the moolah for WB. Apart from movies, WB had ventured into television and 1965 and launched two of their biggest hit series- F-Troop and The F.B.I. which ran till 1967 and 1974 respectively. However, on the studio front, many changes were out to be made. Harry Warner had passed away by then and soon to join him was his second brother. The youngest of them Jack decided to sell of the studio to Elliot and Ken Hyman who renamed it as Warner Bros-Seven Arts.
WB post 1970’s
Warner Bros. as an entity closed shop by 1969 mainly due to increasing costs and decreased demand for short-subject production. Looney Tunes that had been in existence from 1930 as a series of animated short films had to be discontinued. It was revived by 1976 by Chuck Jones. Even before that, two movies on Bugs Bunny had been made in 1975 and 1979. The success of this inspired WB to restart their studio from scratch. When it finally happened in 1980, the management had decided to make compilation films and television specials starring the Looney Tunes characters. But the key staffs that were a part of “the golden age of WB cartoons” had moved on to other studios. Despite that, Warner Bros. remained unperturbed and continued production of special projects. In fact, in 1986, they ventured into television (TV) animation. Some of the TV series that they produced were: Tiny Toon Adventures (1990), Animaniacs (1993), Pinky and the Brain (1995) and Freakazoid (Also in 1995). As they owned DC Comics they went about producing spin-offs of Batman (1992), Superman(1996), The New Batman Adventures(1997), Batman Beyond (1999) and Justice League (2001). Though they were not financially successful and bombed at the box office, they were still liked by the young and the old.
Warner Bros. at present
Warner Bros. had always been backed by Time Warner which had been their parent company.
Hanna-Barbera got merged with WB and when William Hanna passed away in 2001, the entire production of their properties were taken over. Cartoons like Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, Droopy, Barney Bear to illustrate a few, started to get produced from the WB studio under the name of Cartoon Network Studios.
The late 2000’s saw to Warner Bros launch KidsWB.com. Through this website, an interactive and customizable environment is possible for children in particular. Kids would be able to view contents as well as classic animated episodes! However in 2010, Warner Bros re-launched two of their classic characters-Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner through a 3D cartoon feature entitled ‘Coyote Falls’. The next year saw the release of I Tawt I Taw A Putty Tat (with Sylvester, Tweety, and Granny) along with Happy Feet Two; Daffy’s Rhapsody (starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd).
The last couple of years have been phenomenal for Warner Animation Group. In February, an animated movie-The Lego Movie was released. It was done using software’s like the Lego Digital Designer, Toon Boom Harmony and Autodesk Maya. Autodesk Softimage helped in compositing, rendering, and lighting along with Pixar’s RenderMan .
WB is a saga of imagination, determination, perseverance and also diversification. The contribution of WB to the field of animation, TV, comic books and films is noteworthy and will surely be an example for many years to come.
Thank You for reading!
Dear reader, the student’s team of bachelor’s and University master’s degree at Animaster Academy– the No.1 animation college in Bangalore, takes the pleasure to gen the readers, in this article. You are requested please go through another article on Career in Animation, to know more about the creative industry.