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First National Pictures is a defunct American motion picture production and distribution company. It was founded in 1917 as First National Exhibitors' Circuit, Inc., an association of independent theater owners in the United States, and became the country's largest theater chain. Expanding from exhibiting movies to distributing them, the company reincorporated in 1919 as Associated First National Theatres, Inc., and Associated First National Pictures, Inc. In 1924 it expanded to become a motion picture production company as First National Pictures, Inc., and became an important studio in the film industry. In September 1928, control of First National passed to Warner Bros., into which it was completely absorbed on November 4, 1929. A number of Warner Bros. films were thereafter branded First National Pictures until 1936, when First National Pictures, Inc., was dissolved.


The First National Exhibitors' Circuit was founded in 1917 by the merger of 26 of the biggest first-run cinema chains in the United States. It eventually controlled over 600 cinemas, more than 200 of them first-run houses (as opposed to the less lucrative second-run or neighborhood theaters to which films moved when their initial box office receipts dwindled).

First National was the brainchild of Thomas L. Tally, who was reacting to the overwhelming influence of Paramount Pictures, which dominated the market. In 1912, he thought that a conglomerate of theaters throughout the nation could buy or produce and distribute its own films. In 1917 Tally and J. D. Williams formed First National Exhibitors' Circuit.

The first film released through First National was the 1916 British film, The Mother of Dartmoor.[citation needed] Between 1917 and 1918, the company made contracts with Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, the first million-dollar deals in the history of film. Chaplin's contract allowed him to produce his films without a set release schedule. However, the production of the feature film The Kid ran so long that the company started to complain. To address their concerns Chaplin invited the exhibitors to the studio, and they were so impressed by the project and charmed by the players, especially co-star Jackie Coogan, that they agreed to be patient. That patience was ultimately rewarded when The Kid became a major critical and box office success. First National's distribution of films by independent producers is credited with launching careers including that of Louis B. Mayer.

Adolph Zukor of Paramount Pictures was threatened by First National's financial power and its control over the lucrative first-run theaters, and decided to enter the cinema business as well. With a $10 million investment, Paramount built its own chain of first-run movie theaters after a secret plan to merge with First National failed.

First National Exhibitors' Circuit was reincorporated in 1919 as Associated First National Pictures, Inc., and its subsidiary, Associated First National Theatres, Inc., with 5,000 independent theater owners as members. In the early 1920s, Paramount attempted a hostile takeover, buying several of First National's member firms.

Associated First National Pictures expanded from only distributing films to producing them in 1924 and changed its corporate name to First National Pictures, Inc. It built its 62-acre (25 ha) studio lot in Burbank in 1926. The Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America and the Independent Producers' Association declared war in 1925 on what they termed a common enemy—the "film trust" of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, and First National, which they claimed dominated the industry not only by producing and distributing motion pictures but also by entering into exhibition as well.

Acquisition by Warner Bros.

The financial success of The Jazz Singer and The Singing Fool enabled Warner Bros. to purchase a majority interest in First National in September 1928. Warner Bros. held 42,000 shares of common stock out of 72,000 outstanding shares while Fox Pictures held 21,000 shares; 12,000 shares were publicly held. Warner Bros. acquired access to First National's affiliated chain of theaters, while First National acquired access to Vitaphone sound equipment. Warner Bros. and First National continued to operate as separate entities.

On November 4, 1929, Fox sold its interest in First National to Warner Bros. for $10 million.:66 The First National studio in Burbank became the official home of Warner Bros.–First National Pictures. Thereafter, First National Pictures became a trade name for the distribution of a designated segment of Warner Bros. product. Forty-five of the 86 Warner Bros. feature films released in 1929 were branded as First National Pictures.:66 Half of the 60 feature films Warner Bros. announced for release in 1933–34 were to be First National Pictures.

Although both studios produced "A" and "B" budget pictures, generally the prestige productions, costume dramas, and musicals were made by Warner Bros., while First National specialized in modern comedies, dramas, and crime stories. Short subjects were made by yet another affiliated company, The Vitaphone Corporation (which took its name from the sound process).

In July 1936, stockholders of First National Pictures, Inc. (primarily Warner Bros.) voted to dissolve the corporation and distribute its assets among the stockholders in line with a new tax law which provided for tax-free consolidations between corporations.

From 1929 to 1958, most Warner Bros. films bore the combined trademark "A Warner Bros.–First National Picture".

Select filmography

Release Date Title Notes
September 23, 1917 The Fall of the Romanoffs Distribution
December 3, 1917 Alimony Distribution
December 23, 1917 Daughter of Destiny Distribution
March 10, 1918 My Four Years in Germany Distribution
April 2, 1918 Tarzan of the Apes Distribution
April 14, 1918 A Dog's Life Distribution
June 1, 1918 The Passing of the Third Floor Back Distribution
October 1, 1918 The Romance of Tarzan Distribution
January 19, 1919 Auction of Souls Distribution
May 11, 1919 Daddy-Long-Legs Distribution
September 1, 1919 The Hoodlum Distribution
September 29, 1919 Back to God's Country Distribution
November 16, 1919 A Virtuous Vamp Distribution
November 17, 1919 Heart o' the Hills Distribution
December 15, 1919 In Old Kentucky Distribution
December 28, 1919 The Greatest Question Distribution
January 15, 1920 Even as Eve Distribution
February 1, 1920 The River's End Distribution
March 15, 1920 The Family Honor Distribution
March 21, 1920 The Idol Dancer Distribution
April 1, 1920 Passion's Playground Distribution
July 18, 1920 Go and Get It Distribution
August 16, 1920 The Jack-Knife Man Distribution
September 26, 1920 A Splendid Hazard Distribution
October 4, 1920 The Branded Woman Distribution
November 22, 1920 The Devil's Garden Distribution
January 1, 1921 The Great Adventure Distribution
January 1, 1921 Mama's Affair Distribution
February 6, 1921 The Kid Distribution
March 1, 1921 Scrambled Wives Distribution
April 1, 1921 Jim the Penman Distribution
April 1, 1921 The Passion Flower Distribution
April 1, 1921 Sowing the Wind Distribution
May 1, 1921 The Sign on the Door Distribution
May 1, 1921 The Sky Pilot Distribution
July 1, 1921 Salvation Nell Distribution
August 1, 1921 A Midnight Bell Distribution
September 26, 1921 Bits of Life Distribution
October 10, 1921 The Invisible Fear Distribution
October 17, 1921 Woman's Place Distribution
November 20, 1921 Molly O' Distribution
November 21, 1921 Tol'able David Distribution
November 27, 1921 The Lotus Eater Distribution
December 26, 1921 The Cave Girl Distribution
January 1922 The Barnstormer Distribution
February 13, 1922 Red Hot Romance Distribution
February 13, 1922 Smilin' Through Distribution
February 27, 1922 Kindred of the Dust Distribution
April 2, 1922 The Infidel Distribution
May 1, 1922 The Woman He Married Distribution
May 15, 1922 The Primitive Lover Distribution
July 2, 1922 Rose o' the Sea Distribution
September 1, 1922 The Light in the Dark Distribution
October 1, 1922 Lorna Doone Distribution
October 1, 1922 White Shoulders Distribution
October 30, 1922 Oliver Twist Distribution
November 1, 1922 Brawn of the North Distribution
December 1, 1922 Omar the Tentmaker Distribution
December 1, 1922 The Woman Conquers Distribution
December 25, 1922 The Hottentot Distribution
January 1, 1923 Fury Distribution
January 2, 1923 The Brass Bottle Distribution
February 12, 1923 Mighty Lak' a Rose Distribution
February 25, 1923 The Pilgrim Distribution
March 18, 1923 The Isle of Lost Ships Distribution
March 26, 1923 Daddy Distribution
April 9, 1923 The Bright Shawl Distribution
April 9, 1923 Her Fatal Millions Distribution
April 30, 1923 Within the Law Distribution
May 3, 1923 The Girl of the Golden West Production and distribution
June 11, 1923 Slippy McGee Distribution
July 30, 1923 Circus Days Distribution
August 27, 1923 Dulcy Distribution
September 10, 1923 The Fighting Blade Distribution
September 16, 1923 Potash and Perlmutter Distribution
October 1, 1923 Ashes of Vengeance Distribution
October 8, 1923 The Bad Man Distribution
October 29, 1923 Ponjola Distribution
November 12, 1923 Flaming Youth Production and distribution
November 12, 1923 Jealous Husbands Distribution
November 19, 1923 The Dangerous Maid Distribution
November 26, 1923 The Wanters Distribution
November 28, 1923 Anna Christie Distribution
December 17, 1923 The Eternal City Distribution
December 23, 1923 Boy of Mine Distribution
December 29, 1923 Black Oxen Distribution
January 21, 1924 Abraham Lincoln Distribution
February 1, 1924 The Love Master Distribution
February 25, 1924 Torment Distribution
February 29, 1924 Lilies of the Field Distribution
March 24, 1924 The Enchanted Cottage Production and distribution
March 24, 1924 Secrets Distribution
April 20, 1924 The Woman on the Jury Production and distribution
April 27, 1924 Those Who Dance Distribution
May 4, 1924 Cytherea Distribution
May 11, 1924 The White Moth Distribution
May 25, 1924 The Perfect Flapper Production and distribution
June 14, 1924 The Sea Hawk Distribution
June 29, 1924 A Self-Made Failure Distribution
July 20, 1924 The Girl in the Limousine Distribution
July 27, 1924 Single Wives Distribution
September 1, 1924 In Hollywood with Potash and Perlmutter Distribution
October 1, 1924 Her Night of Romance Distribution
October 5, 1924 The Silent Watcher Distribution
October 26, 1924 The Only Woman Distribution
November 23, 1924 Classmates Distribution
November 30, 1924 Inez from Hollywood Distribution
December 28, 1924 So Big Production and distribution
January 11, 1925 As Man Desires Production and distribution
January 18, 1925 A Thief in Paradise Distribution
February 1, 1925 Enticement Distribution
February 2, 1925 The Lost World Production and distribution
March 15, 1925 Heart of a Siren Distribution
March 22, 1925 Déclassée Distribution
March 29, 1925 Sally Production and distribution
April 12, 1925 His Supreme Moment Distribution
April 30, 1925 Playing with Souls Distribution
May 3, 1925 Soul-Fire Distribution
May 10, 1925 Chickie Production and distribution
May 17, 1925 The Necessary Evil Production and distribution
June 16, 1925 Just a Woman Production and distribution
July 12, 1925 The Lady Who Lied Production and distribution
July 26, 1925 The Scarlet West Distribution
August 16, 1925 The Half-Way Girl Production and distribution
August 16, 1925 Winds of Chance Production and distribution
September 6, 1925 Shore Leave Distribution
September 13, 1925 What Fools Men Production and distribution
September 27, 1925 The Dark Angel Distribution
October 4, 1925 The Pace That Thrills Production and distribution
October 11, 1925 Classified Distribution
October 18, 1925 Why Women Love Distribution
November 8, 1925 Scarlet Saint Production and distribution
November 15, 1925 We Moderns Distribution
November 25, 1925 Clothes Make the Pirate Distribution
December 6, 1925 The Splendid Road Distribution
December 13, 1925 Joanna Distribution
January 10, 1926 Just Suppose Distribution
January 13, 1926 Bluebeard's Seven Wives Production and distribution
January 31, 1926 The Girl from Montmartre Distribution
February 14, 1926 The Far Cry Production and distribution
February 21, 1926 Irene Production and distribution
February 28, 1926 The Dancer of Paris Production and distribution
March 14, 1926 High Steppers Distribution
March 21, 1926 Mademoiselle Modiste Distribution
March 21, 1926 Tramp, Tramp, Tramp Distribution
March 28, 1926 Her Second Chance Production
April 4, 1926 Kiki Distribution
April 11, 1926 Old Loves and New Distribution
May 2, 1926 The Greater Glory Production and distribution
May 23, 1926 The Wise Guy Distribution
May 30, 1926 Ranson's Folly Distribution
June 6, 1926 Ella Cinders Distribution
June 17, 1926 The Sporting Lover Distribution
June 27, 1926 Miss Nobody Production and distribution
July 25, 1926 Great Deception Distribution
July 26, 1926 Mismates Production and distribution
August 8, 1926 The Duchess of Buffalo Distribution
August 8, 1926 Into Her Kingdom Distribution
August 15, 1926 The Amateur Gentleman Distribution
September 4, 1926 Don Juan's Three Nights Distribution
September 5, 1926 The Strong Man Distribution
September 12, 1926 Subway Sadie Distribution
September 26, 1926 Paradise Distribution
October 17, 1926 Prince of Tempters Distribution
October 25, 1926 Midnight Lovers Distribution
October 31, 1926 Syncopating Sue Distribution
November 20, 1926 The Blonde Saint Distribution
November 28, 1926 Twinkletoes Distribution
December 12, 1926 Just Another Blonde Distribution
December 12, 1926 The White Black Sheep Distribution
January 1, 1927 The Lady in Ermine Distribution
January 16, 1927 The Masked Woman Production and distribution
February 6, 1927 McFadden's Flats Production and distribution
February 13, 1927 An Affair of the Follies Distribution
February 20, 1927 Easy Pickings Production and distribution
February 27, 1927 The Sea Tiger Production and distribution
March 5, 1927 Three Hours Distribution
March 6, 1927 Orchids and Ermine Distribution
March 13, 1927 High Hat Distribution
March 26, 1927 Long Pants Distribution
March 27, 1927 The Notorious Lady Distribution
April 21, 1927 Camille Distribution
April 24, 1927 Convoy Distribution
May 15, 1927 Broadway Nights Distribution
May 22, 1927 Babe Comes Home Production and distribution
June 5, 1927 Sunset Derby Production and distribution
June 26, 1927 Naughty but Nice Distribution
July 9, 1927 The Prince of Headwaiters Distribution
July 31, 1927 For the Love of Mike Distribution
August 14, 1927 The Stolen Bride Production and distribution
September 1, 1927 The Patent Leather Kid Production and distribution
September 3, 1927 The Life of Riley Production and distribution
September 25, 1927 The Drop Kick Production and distribution
September 25, 1927 Rose of the Golden West Production and distribution
October 9, 1927 American Beauty Production and distribution
October 23, 1927 Breakfast at Sunrise Distribution
November 13, 1927 The Gorilla Production and distribution
December 4, 1927 A Texas Steer Production and distribution
December 4, 1927 The Valley of the Giants Production and distribution
December 9, 1927 The Private Life of Helen of Troy Production and distribution
December 10, 1927 French Dressing Production and distribution
December 18, 1927 The Love Mart Production and distribution
December 25, 1927 Her Wild Oat Production and distribution
January 22, 1928 Sailors' Wives Production and distribution
January 29, 1928 The Noose Production and distribution
February 5, 1928 The Whip Woman Production and distribution
April 15, 1928 Chinatown Charlie Production and distribution
May 6, 1928 Lady Be Good Production and distribution
May 20, 1928 Yellow Lily Production and distribution
June 10, 1928 Three-Ring Marriage Production and distribution
June 24, 1928 Happiness Ahead Production and distribution
July 22, 1928 Heart to Heart Production and distribution
August 19, 1928 Out of the Ruins Production and distribution
August 26, 1928 Oh, Kay! Production and distribution
September 9, 1928 Night Watch (1928 film) Production and distribution
September 16, 1928 Waterfront Production and distribution
September 23, 1928 Show Girl Production and distribution
October 14, 1928 Do Your Duty Production and distribution
October 18, 1928 Lilac Time Production and distribution
October 21, 1928 Companionate Marriage Distribution
November 4, 1928 The Haunted House (1928 film) Production and distribution
November 11, 1928 Outcast Production and distribution
December 2, 1928 Adoration Production and distribution
December 5, 1928 The Barker Production and distribution
December 16, 1928 Naughty Baby Production and distribution
December 29, 1928 Scarlet Seas Production and distribution
January 6, 1929 Synthetic Sin Production and distribution
February 10, 1929 Weary River Production and distribution
February 17, 1929 Seven Footprints to Satan Production and distribution
March 3, 1929 Children of the Ritz Production and distribution
March 12, 1929 Why Be Good? Production and distribution
March 24, 1929 Love and the Devil Production and distribution
March 31, 1929 The Divine Lady Production and distribution
April 2, 1929 His Captive Woman Production and distribution
April 28, 1929 House of Horror (1929 film) Production and distribution
May 5, 1929 Hot Stuff Production and distribution
May 8, 1929 The Squall Production and distribution
May 12, 1929 Two Weeks Off Production and distribution
June 2, 1929 Careers Production and distribution
June 21, 1929 Broadway Babies Production and distribution
July 7, 1929 The Man and the Moment Production and distribution
July 20, 1929 Drag Production and distribution
July 28, 1929 Smiling Irish Eyes Production and distribution
August 4, 1929 Hard to Get Production and distribution
August 25, 1929 Her Private Life Production and distribution
August 31, 1929 The Girl from Woolworth's Production and distribution
September 15, 1929 The Great Divide (1929 film) Production and distribution
October 1, 1929 Young Nowheres Production and distribution
October 25, 1929 The Isle of Lost Ships (1929 film) Production and distribution
November 4, 1929 Paris Production and distribution

Films as a Warner Bros. subsidiary

As a subsidiary of Warner Bros., First National Pictures, Inc., continued to be a copyright claimant and trademark on motion pictures through 1936. Notable examples of First National Pictures titles are listed below.










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