movie industry in America has been controlled by some of the monolithic companies which not only provided a place for making the movies, but also made the movies themselves and then distributed it throughout the entire country. These are movie companies and their entire image revolved around the number of participants of their films. People who wanted to see the movies being made had to go to the "studios" in order to see them. They made movies in a profitable manner for the sake of the studios, but placed the entire industry under their control and dominated over it. The discussion here is about some of those famous studios inclusive of that of names like Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Culver, RKO, Paramount Studios, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Universal Studios, Raleigh Studio, Hollywood Center Studio, Sunset Gower Studio, Ren-Mar Studios, Charlie Chaplin Studios and now, Manhattan Beach Studio. In the past there were different kinds of movies being made by different kinds of studios. A Warner's picture looked completely different from a Paramount picture, which again looked very different from a MGM picture, which was also very different from a Republic picture, and again different from an RKO picture. Now, you go and you see the same people in the same movies. The stars may be in a Miramax movie this week, but two months ago may have been in a 20th Century Fox picture. Thus there is no longer that kind of differentiation of expression. The usage of the studios has also changed from the times that they were set up in, and that is probably expected.
At one stage, the history and culture of United States spread all through the world, and one of the main instruments of this "cultural expansion" was Hollywood. The entire production of films was being controlled by some studios and they had total control over the industry. In casual usage, the term has become confused with production companies as in the United States, the important well-known production companies of the "Golden Era of Film" usually owned their own studio subsidiaries during the period from 1925-1960. However, throughout the world, as well as in the U.S.A., most production companies do not own their own studios but rent needed space at independently-owned studios. The studios generally do not produce a film directly. (Movie studio) At the early stage, the movie industry in America was being controlled by some studios of Hollywood, and the control was not only for production of pictures, but an indirect control of emotions and feelings. Among the studios, the first was Warner Bros incorporated in 1923, and then was MGM in 1924, Columbia Pictures, and MCA in the same period. Then was the starting of RKO Pictures in 1928 and in 1926 was the expenditure of Lasky Corporation of $1 million on United Studio's property where Paramount Pictures was located from 1935. (Hollywood Film Studios in the 20s)
The greatest among these studios was probably MGM. This is now known as Sony Picture Studios 10202, W. Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA and is situated seven miles southwest of Hollywood and vine. The origin of the studios was as Triangle Pictures in 1915. The first building on the lot was built even before MGM owned the place and the studio became Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1924. Louis B. Mayer persuaded both the then President Calvin Coolidge and performer Will Rogers to come for the grand opening. The name was a combination of Metro which was an earlier film company belonging to showman Marcus Loew, Goldwyn was from producer Samuel Goldwyn and Mayer from Louis B. Mayer. This was the most powerful among all studios in Hollywood with its glossy, bright, Technicolor films along with lavish wardrobes, high priced sets and a large number of stars under contract. (The Historic MGM Studios)
Among the stars under contract were Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Jean Harlow, Laurel & Hardy, Esther Williams, Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, Red Skeleton, Bette Davis, Jimmy Durante, Margaret O'Brien, Donna Reed, Robert Young, Lana Turner, Jane Powell, Wallace Beery & Marjorie Main, Peter Lawford, Joan Crawford, Lionel Barrymore, Paul Newman, Kathryn Grayson, Hedy Lamarr, Mario Lanza, Greer Garson, Angela Lansbury, Rosalind Russell, Robert Taylor and Jackie Cooper. Another two stars, Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn, has the world records for the most Oscars which were won by an actor and actress. Many memorable debuts were made here including Judy Garland Dorothy in "The wizard of Oz" in 1939. Some of the sets are still inside as is the "Yellow Brick Road."
The studio gave the audience many famous movies including classics like "Boys Town" in the year 1938, "The Philadelphia Story" in the year 1940, "Mrs. Miniver" in the year 1942, "Father of the Bride" in the year 1950, "A Patch of Blue" in the year 1965, "Doctor Zhivago" in the year 1965, "The Dirty Dozen" in the year 1967, and "2001: A Space Odyssey" in the year 1968. Apart from this were "The Wizard of Oz" in the year 1939, "Meet Me In St. Louis" in the year 1944, "Anchors Aweigh" in the year 1945, "The Harvey Girls" in the year 1946, "Easter Parade" in the year 1948, "The Pirate" in the year 1948, "Show Boat" in the year 1951, "An American in Paris" in the year 1951, "Singing in the Rain" in the year 1952, "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" in the year 1954, "Guys & Dolls" in the year 1955, "Gigi" in the year 1958 and "That's Entertainment" in the year 1974. Apart from this there were many famous movies like seventeen "Andy Hardy" movies made by Mickey Rooney, "The Thin Man" mysteries, the "Tarzan" adventures and the Marx Brothers comics. The speed of production was high -- one movie a week on an average. (The Historic MGM Studios)
One of the most famous films was "Gone with the Wind" and this is the movie with the highest collections in the history of making movies. The picture was however shot at the studio next door -- Culver. The highest number of Oscars was won by "Ben Hur" which was released in 1959 with Charlton Heston. Another movie called "Quo Vadis" holds the record for the largest number of costumes used -- 32,000. The end of the studio came with the corporate raider, Kirk Kerkorian buying out the company and selling off the prized possessions of the studio and selling off land to the housing developers -- 38 acres. The money collected by him went into the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, and then the studios films were purchased by Ted turner for his cable TV channel. At the last step, the studio was purchased by Sony entertainment of Japan. The reason for the purchase was again the library of color movies including franchises like "James Bond," "Pink Panther" and "Rocky." It is expected that under the latest arrangement, it will turnout some movies in a year. (The Historic MGM Studios)
Another studio which has been mentioned is Culver and that is situated to the northeast of what used to be MGM studios. This particular area has been the homes earlier to other studios named as RKO, Laird, Howard Hughes and Desilu. The remarkable factor about this studio is the frontage which looks like a grand colonial mansion with green lawns, sculpted hedges, flowering rose bushes, etc. Some of the great movies were filmed here -- "Citizen Kane" in the year 1941, the first "King Kong" with Fay Wray in the year 1933, "Rebecca" in the year 1940 and as mentioned earlier, "Gone with the Wind" in the year 1939. Other important movies filmed here were "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" in the year 1938, "Portrait of Jennie" in the year 1948, "Since You Went Away" in 1944, "The Farmer's Daughter" in the year 1947, "Made for Each Other" in the year 1939, and "The Prisoner of Zenda" in the year 1946, "Notorious" in the year 1946 and "Spellbound" in 1945. Another interesting trivial matter is that both MGM and Culver were part of Ince Studios and there is still a street called Ince Boulevard in his honor in the area. In the year 2004, the last owners, Sony informed that they had sold off this studio to a private investment group for $125 million as they did not require so much area for television production. (Culver Studios)
Another studio with an old history is RKO and this was formed by an English group who set it up as FBO studios. Then Joseph P. Kennedy bought it over and pulled in some theatres as also a partnership with RCA who developed a sound system for movies. Then came the name RKO and it released its first film in the year 1929 called "Syncopation." Then the studio got the rights for distribution of Walt Disney, but the studio was not…