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United Artists (UA) is an American film and television entertainment studio. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was repeatedly bought, sold, and restructured over the ensuing century. The current United Artists company is a successor to the original in name only. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million.

On September 22, 2014, MGM acquired a controlling interest in Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's entertainment companies One Three Media and Lightworkers Media, then merged them to revive United Artists' TV production unit as United Artists Media Group (UAMG). However, on December 14 of the following year, MGM wholly acquired UAMG and folded it into MGM Television.

On February 5th, 2019, MGM and Annapurna Pictures resurrected the United Artists brand to expand their US joint theatrical distribution venture, rebranding it as United Artists Releasing. The decision was made to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the studio's foundation. The company has a release slate of 10 to 14 films per year, including four to six films set for worldwide release from MGM,[1] two to four low budget genre films from Orion Pictures (another revived MGM holding, whose distribution team was absorbed into UA Releasing to bolster and accompany its existing staff),[1] and three to five auteur-driven films from Annapurna.[2][3] It also intends to work with third-party filmmakers to supplement its slate.

Trivia

  • The company was the original owner of the pre-1950 Warner Bros. library via its 1958 acquisition of Associated Artists Productions (which also owned all the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons originally released by Paramount). The a.a.p. library was transfered to Turner Entertainment Co. in 1986 (along with a small fraction of the UA film library, the UA-produced TV series Gilligan's Island and its animated spinoffs, Bugs Bunny: Superstar, and the entire MGM library) when they acquired MGM/UA Entertainment Co., and the rights for these pre-1950 titles later returned to Warner Bros. via Turner Broadcasting System's merger with Time Warner in 1996.
  • Warner Bros. also owns the rights to UA's 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days and the Lorimar films originally distributed by UA, and distributes the Saul Zaentz-produced films released by UA (e.g. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings). They also originally distributed the pre-1952 UA titles owned by Castle Hill Productions (e.g. Stagecoach).
  • In December 1981, United Artists signed an international distribution deal with Warner Home Video to release its catalog titles and all of its then-new releases on VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc. The deal in turn also saw WHV itself distributing the pre-1950 WB titles among the UA library. This later expanded in 1990, when WHV secured worldwide distribution and sales for MGM/UA Home Video.

Releases

  • One Romantic Night (1930; acquired by Warner Bros. in 1996 via Turner Entertainment)
  • The Prisoner of Zenda (1937; MGM acquired the rights in 1944 as a purpose for its remake of the film, thus the original was part of the MGM library acquired by Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros.)
  • Gun Crazy (1950; rights now with Warner Bros.)
  • Chicago Calling (1952; rights now with Warner Bros.)
  • Around the World in 80 Days (1956; UA lost control of the film in 1976 to producer Michael Todd's widow and actress Elizabeth Taylor, who then handed the rights to Warner Bros. in 1983)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975; produced by Saul Zaentz via Fantasy Films, with distribution currently handled by Warner Bros. since 1997)
  • Bugs Bunny: Superstar (1975; documentary film that features excerpts from the pre-August 1948 Warner Bros. cartoon library then owned by UA/a.a.p., acquired by Turner Entertainment in 1986 and later by Warner Bros. via the Turner merger)
  • Network (1976, co-production with MGM; the distribution rights became full circle in 1981 when MGM merged with UA, however the domestic rights were then transfered to Turner Entertainment in 1986 via the MGM library, later acquired by Warner Bros. via the Turner merger. MGM continues to own the international rights via UA)
  • The Betsy (1978; co-production with Allied Artists Pictures, which was acquired by Lorimar Productions in 1980. Warner Bros. assumed ownership of the film in 1989 via its acquisiton of Lorimar-Telepictures)
  • Three Warriors (1978; produced by Saul Zaentz via Fantasy Films, with distribution later assumed by Warner Bros. from MGM in 2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1978; produced by Saul Zaentz via Fantasy Films, with distribution currently handled by Warner Bros. since 1997)
  • Americathon (1979; produced by Lorimar Productions and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1989 via Lorimar-Telepictures)
  • The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979; produced by Lorimar Productions and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1989 via Lorimar-Telepictures)
  • Being There (1979; produced by Lorimar Productions and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1989 via Lorimar-Telepictures)
  • Cruising (1980; produced by Lorimar Productions and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1989 via Lorimar-Telepictures)
  • Carny (1980; produced by Lorimar Productions and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1989 via Lorimar-Telepictures)
  • The Big Red One (1980; produced by Lorimar Productions and acquired by Warner Bros. in 1989 via Lorimar-Telepictures)

References

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