Batjac Productions is an independent film production company founded by John Wayne in the early 1950s as a vehicle for Wayne to produce as well as star in movies. Its first release was Big Jim McLain with Warner Brothers in 1952, and its final film was also with Warner Brothers, McQ, in 1974. Today, Gretchen Wayne, wife of the actor’s late son, Michael Wayne, who managed and owned the company for over 30 years before his death in 2003, is its owner and president.
Wayne and producer Robert Fellows founded Batjac in 1952 as Wayne/Fellows Productions. When Fellows left the company several years later, Wayne renamed the corporation after a fictitious trading company mentioned in the 1948 film Wake of the Red Witch. The company name in Wake of the Red Witch was spelled Batjak, but Wayne's secretary misspelled it as Batjac on the corporation papers, and Wayne let it stand. Having his own company gave Wayne artistic control over the films he made.
The most famous of all Batjac's films is Wayne's 1960 version of The Alamo, a project he had planned for several years. It was an account of the battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution of 1836. A labor of love for Wayne, The Alamo cost Wayne much of his personal fortune.
Because of a production/distribution deal with Warner Bros. and United Artists, Batjac was allowed to retain all rights to four Wayne films: the WB-distributed The High and the Mighty, Hondo, Island in the Sky, and the UA-distributed McLintock!. It also held full copyright ownership in several non-John Wayne movies, Seven Men from Now, Man in the Vault, Ring of Fear, Plunder of the Sun, Track of the Cat, China Doll, Escort West and Gun the Man Down.
After Wayne's death, his son Michael assumed full ownership and managed the company for over 30 years. He meticulously managed the release pattern of his films and restored Hondo and McLintock! in the early 1990s for release on VHS and television. His passion was to restore the other two films, but water damage to the original elements made it impossible during his lifetime. Taking advantage of the new digital restoration processes, Michael's widow Gretchen restored these films in 2004 and released them through a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures in 2005.