Associated Artists Productions

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Associated Artists Productions, Inc.
Private
Industry Television syndication
Fate Folded into United Artists
Successor United Artists Associated
United Artists Television Distribution
MGM Television
Founded 1948 (first incarnation)[1]
1954 (second incarnation)
Founder Eliot Hyman
Defunct 1958
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Products Television packages of feature films and theatrical short subjects and cartoons
Divisions United Telefilms Limited
Dominant Pictures Corporation

Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.) [2][3] was a distributor of theatrical feature films and short subjects for television. Through acquisitions, a.a.p. was later folded into United Artists, with its library eventually passing to Turner Entertainment, now part of Time Warner.

History[edit]

Formative years[edit]

Associated Artists Productions, Inc. was founded in 1948[1] by Eliot Hyman. It handled syndication of 500 films, including the Republic Pictures and Robert Lippert libraries, but soon both companies entered television distribution. It also served for Monogram Pictures (their 1936-1946 film library was purchased by a.a.p. in 1954) and Producers Releasing Corporation. In 1951, Hyman sold the company; its assets ended up at another outfit, Motion Pictures for Television (MPTV), where Hyman served as a consultant.[1]

In 1954, Hyman launched another TV distribution company which used the Associated Artists name.[1] His son Ken served as vice-president. It bought the syndication rights to the Universal Sherlock Holmes films from MPTV, Johnny Jupiter, and Candid Camera.[1] In 1956 the company was refinanced and its name changed to Associated Artists Productions Corp. (a.a.p.) The new company then purchased the entire pre-1950 library owned by Warner Bros. Pictures for $21 million.

The material a.a.p. bought from Warner Bros. Pictures included all of its features produced and distributed by Warners prior to 1950 (Warner retained the rights to two 1949 films it only distributed), and also included was the film Chain Lightning (produced in 1949 and released in 1950). Studio records of the film's negative have a notation, "Junked 12/27/48" (i.e., December 27, 1948). Warner Bros. destroyed many of its negatives in the late 1940s and 1950s due to nitrate film pre-1933 decomposition.[citation needed] Also included were the live-action short subjects released prior to September 1, 1948.

The cartoon library included every color Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies short released prior to August 1, 1948, and all of the Merrie Melodies produced by Harman-Ising Pictures from 1931 to 1933, except Lady, Play Your Mandolin! (1931). The remaining black-and-white Merrie Melodies made from 1933 to 1934 and the black-and-white Looney Tunes were already sold to Sunset Productions.[4] Former Warner cartoon director Bob Clampett was hired to catalog the Warner cartoon library.[5]

a.a.p. also purchased the Popeye cartoons from Paramount Pictures, which had been produced by Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios. This purchase and the Warner Bros. cartoon package combined gave a.a.p. a library of over 568 theatrical cartoon shorts, which would be staples of children's television for decades.

For the Warner Bros. productions, a.a.p. simply inserted their logo at the beginning of the film. For the Popeye cartoons, a.a.p. removed all logos and mentions of Paramount from the Popeye prints they distributed, since Paramount did not want to be associated with television at the time. The ending result was that new a.a.p. title cards were made to cover up the Paramount originals on both the black & white and color cartoons. However, because Popeye cartoons were still in production at the time of the sale, in 1956, title cards bearing the copyright line (i.e. Copyright MCMXLI by Paramount Pictures, Inc. All rights reserved) were left intact. In recent years, due to efforts by Turner Entertainment, the Paramount references have been restored to the cartoons.[6]

Later years[edit]

Ownership of properties[edit]

The company was acquired by United Artists in 1958. The resulting division was named United Artists Associated (a division of United Artists Television), and by 1968, United Artists Television Distribution. In 1981, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased United Artists, along with its film library and became MGM/UA Entertainment Co.

Turner Broadcasting System (via Turner Entertainment) took over the library in 1986 after Ted Turner's short-lived acquisition of MGM/UA. When Turner sold back the MGM/UA production unit, he kept the MGM library, including select portions of the a.a.p. library (limited to the Warner Bros. films and the Popeye cartoons), for his own company. The 1936-1946 Monogram films were not included with the purchase, and thus some of these films remain with MGM.[citation needed]

The Warner Bros. film libraries were reunited when Time Warner, the studio's parent company since the 1990 merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications (formerly Kinney National Company), bought Turner in 1996. Turner retains the copyrights to the former a.a.p. properties, while Warner handles their distribution.

UA originally leased video rights to their library (including the a.a.p. library) to Magnetic Video, the first home video company. Magnetic Video was sold to 20th Century Fox in 1981, becoming 20th Century Fox Video. In 1982, Fox and CBS formed CBS/Fox Video, which continued to distribute the UA/a.a.p. library under license from MGM/UA Home Video until the rights reverted to MGM/UA. After Turner's purchase of the MGM/UA library, MGM/UA Home Video continued to distribute the films on video under license until 1999, when the rights were transferred to Warner Home Video.

Subsidiaries[edit]

  • a.a.p. Records, Inc. was a music arm of a.a.p., which had distributed the Official Popeye TV Album.
  • United Telefilms Limited was the Canadian division of a.a.p., which existed around the same time. Live action films used a variation of the main a.a.p. logo, but the initials "UTL" would be spelled out, and a notice at the bottom said "Distributed in Canada by United Telefilms Limited".
  • United Telefilm Records was a music label of United Telefilms.
    • UT Records and Warwick Records were subsidiaries of United Telefilm Records.
  • Tel Records was a subsidiary of United Telefilms.
  • Dominant Pictures Corporation was a subsidiary of a.a.p. which distributed the features that the company purchased to theaters. It re-released a number of films from the pre-1950 WB library, as well as a number of British films which a.a.p. bought the rights to. Dominant also sold and/or leased 16mm prints of WB library titles to non-theatrical rental libraries. The subsidiary was later folded into UA's main theatrical distribution arm after the company was sold to UA.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Billboard (August 28, 1954), p. 6
  2. ^ Alcott v. Hyman, 208 A.2d 501 (1965).
  3. ^ Fleischer v. Phillips, 264 F.2d 515 (1959).
  4. ^ "Misce-LOONEY-ous: TV Titles". Looney.goldenagecartoons.com. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  5. ^ "Toon Tracker's Matty's Funday Funnies". Archived from the original on 2009-10-23. 
  6. ^ "Misce-LOONEY-ous: TV Titles". Looney.goldenagecartoons.com. 1948-07-24. Retrieved 2014-08-01.