|Fate||Absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation|
|Predecessor||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio|
|Successor||Cartoon Network Studios|
|Founded||July 7, 1957(original)|
Los Angeles, California|
New York City, New York, United States
Theatrical feature films
Theatrical short films
Taft Broadcasting (1966–1991)|
Turner Broadcasting System (1991–1996)
Time Warner (1996–2001)
Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc. /
The studio is known for creating a wide variety of popular animated characters and for 30 years, it produced a succession of cartoon shows, including The Flintstones, The Yogi Bear Show, The Jetsons, Wacky Races, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and The Smurfs. Hanna and Barbera together won seven Academy Awards, a Governors Award, eight Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their achievements and were also inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2005, they were honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a wall sculpture of themselves and their characters at the Television Academy's Hall of Fame Plaza.
On December 29. 1966, with Hanna-Barbera firmly established as a successful company, Hanna, Barbera and original investor George Sidney sold the company to Taft Broadcasting Co., which continued to operate the studio for the next quarter-century. Hanna-Barbera's fortunes declined in the mid-1980s when the profitability of Saturday morning cartoons was eclipsed by weekday afternoon syndication. In late 1991, the studio was purchased from Taft (by then renamed Great American Broadcasting) by Turner Broadcasting System, which used much of its back catalog as programming for its new channel, Cartoon Network.
After Turner purchased the company, Hanna and Barbera continued to serve as creative consultants and mentors. The studio became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Animation in 1996 following Turner Broadcasting's merger with Time Warner, and was ultimately absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation in 2001. As of 2018, Warner Bros. uses the studio's brand to market properties and productions associated with the Hanna-Barbera library.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1939–1957: Humble beginnings, Tom & Jerry, other shorts
- 1.2 Mid-1957: Birth of the Hanna-Barbera studio
- 1.3 1957–1969: First emmy win, success of a prime time show and more
- 1.4 1970–1979: Scooby knockoffs, superhero hits, live-action
- 1.5 1980–1990: Smurf craze, later years
- 1.6 1991–1996: Turner rebound, rise of Cartoon Network
- 1.7 1997–2006: Final years, absorption into Warner Bros. Animation, deaths of founders
- 1.8 2007–present: New projects based on legacy properties
- 2 Merchandise
- 3 Sound effects
- 4 List of Hanna-Barbera productions
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
1939–1957: Humble beginnings, Tom & Jerry, other shorts
William Hanna, a native of Melrose, New Mexico and Joseph Barbera, born of Italian heritage in New York City, first met at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in 1939, while working at its animation division (thru its Rudolf Ising unit) and thus began a partnership that would last for over six decades. Their first directorial production and collaboration was the Academy Award-nominated Puss Gets the Boot, featuring a cat named Jasper and an unnamed mouse, released to theaters in 1940. It served as the basis for the popular long-running Tom and Jerry series of short subject theatricals. Hanna and Barbera served as directors of the shorts for over 20 years, with Hanna in charge of supervising the animation and Barbera in charge of the stories and pre-production.
The screams, yelps, howls and yells of Tom were provided by Hanna and in addition to the series being nominated for twelve more Oscars, seven of the cartoons won a total of seven Academy Awards for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) between 1943 and 1953. The trophies were awarded to their producer Fred Quimby, who was not involved in the creative development of the shorts.:83–84 Hanna and Barbera also did new animated and live-action musical sequences for Anchors Aweigh (notable for its dance sequence featuring Gene Kelly and Jerry), Invitation to the Dance and Dangerous When Wet along with a handful of new one-shot cartoons for MGM: Gallopin' Gals, Officer Pooch, War Dogs and Good Will to Men, a remake of Peace on Earth.
With Quimby's retirement in 1955, Hanna and Barbera became the producers in charge of the MGM animation studio's output, supervising the last seven shorts of Tex Avery's Droopy series and directing and producing a short-lived Tom and Jerry spin-off series, Spike and Tyke, which ran for two entries. In addition to their work on the cartoons, the two men moonlighted on outside projects, including the original title sequences and commercials for the CBS sitcom I Love Lucy. With the rise of television, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer decided in early 1957 to close its cartoon studio, as it felt it had acquired a reasonable backlog of shorts for re-release.
Mid-1957: Birth of the Hanna-Barbera studio
While contemplating their future, Hanna and Barbera began producing animated television commercials and during their last year at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, they had developed a concept for a new animated TV program about a dog and cat duo in various misadventures. After they failed to convince the studio to back their venture, live-action director George Sidney, who had worked with Hanna and Barbera on several of his theatrical features for MGM, offered to serve as their business partner and convinced Screen Gems, a television production subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, to make a deal with the producers.
A coin toss would determine that Hanna would have precedence in naming the new studio. Harry Cohn, president and head of Columbia Pictures, took an 18% ownership in Hanna and Barbera's new company, H-B Enterprises, and provided working capital. Screen Gems became the new studio's distributor and its licensing agent, handling merchandizing of the characters from the animated programs. The duo's cartoon firm officially opened for business in rented offices on the lot of Kling Studios (formerly Charlie Chaplin Studios) on July 7, 1957, two months after the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studio closed down.
Sidney and several Screen Gems alumni became members of the studio's board of directors and much of the former MGM animation staff — including animators Carlo Vinci, Kenneth Muse, Lewis Marshall, Michael Lah and Ed Barge and layout artists Ed Benedict and Richard Bickenbach — became the new production staff for the H-B studio. Conductor and composer Hoyt Curtin was in charge of providing the music while many voice actors came on board, such as Daws Butler, Don Messick, Julie Bennett, Mel Blanc, Howard Morris, John Stephenson, Hal Smith and Doug Young.
1957–1969: First emmy win, success of a prime time show and more
H-B Enterprises was the very first major animation studio to successfully produce cartoons exclusively for television. Previously, animated programming was primarily rebroadcasts of theatrical cartoons. Its first original animated television series, The Ruff and Reddy Show, premiered on NBC in December 1957. Next was The Huckleberry Hound Show, its first big hit, premiering in 1958, was syndicated and aired in most markets just before prime time. A ratings success, it introduced a new crop of cartoon stars to audiences, in particular Huckleberry Hound, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks and Yogi Bear. It was the first to win an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming.
The company began expanding rapidly following its initial success and several animation industry alumni – in particular former Warner Bros. Cartoons storymen Michael Maltese and Warren Foster, who became new head writers for the studio – joined the staff at this time along with Joe Ruby and Ken Spears as film editors and Iwao Takamoto as character designer. By 1959, H-B Enterprises was reincorporated as Hanna-Barbera Productions and started slowly becoming a leader in TV animation production from then on. A second syndicated cartoon show, The Quick Draw McGraw Show and its only theatrical short film series, Loopy De Loop, followed in 1959.
The ABC smash hit The Flintstones premiered in prime time in 1960. Loosely based on the CBS series The Honeymooners, it was set in a fictionalized stone age of cavemen and dinosaurs. Jackie Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera for copyright infringement, but decided not to because he didn't want to be known as "the man who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air". The show ran for an amazing six seasons, becoming the longest-running animated show in American prime time TV history, a ratings and merchandising success and the top-ranking animated program in syndication history until being beaten out by The Simpsons in 1996. It initially received mixed reviews from critics, but its reputation eventually improved and is now considered a classic.
In 1961, The Yogi Bear Show, the studio's first spinoff, premiered in syndication followed by Top Cat for ABC. The three shows Wally Gator, Touche Turtle and Dum Dum and Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har aired as part of The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series. For prime time, The Jetsons debuted in 1962. Several animated TV commercials were produced as well, often starring their own characters (probably the best known is a series of Pebbles cereal commercials for Post featuring Barney tricking Fred into giving him his Pebbles cereal). Benedict, layout artist for H-B, produced the opening credits for Bewitched, in which animated caricatures of Samantha and Darrin appeared. These characterizations were reused in the fifth season Flintstones episode, "Samantha", voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York.
In 1963, its operations moved off the Kling lot (by then renamed the Red Skelton Studios) to new location at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Hollywood, California. This contemporary office building was designed by architect Arthur Froehlich. Its ultra-modern design included a sculpted latticework exterior, moat, fountains and a Jetsons-like tower. In 1964, its first theatrical film Hey There, It's Yogi Bear was released to theaters while newer programs of The Magilla Gorilla Show, The Peter Potamus Show and Jonny Quest aired. Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel and Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt came in 1965. Screen Gems and Hanna-Barbera's partnership lasted until 1965, when Hanna and Barbera announced the sale of their studio to Taft Broadcasting.
Taft's acquisition of Hanna-Barbera was delayed for a year by a lawsuit from Joan Perry, John Cohn, and Harrison Cohn – the wife and sons of former Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn, who felt that the studio undervalued the Cohns' 18% share in the company when it was sold a few years previously. In 1966, Laurel and Hardy debuted on the air while The Man Called Flintstone came to theaters. Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles and Space Ghost also first aired. By December 1966, the litigation had been settled and the studio was finally acquired by Taft for $12 million. It would fold it into its corporate structure in 1967 and 1968, becoming its distributor.
Hanna and Barbera stayed on to run the company while Screen Gems retained licensing and distribution rights to the previously Hanna-Barbera produced cartoons, along with the trademarks to the characters into the 1970s and 1980s. A number of new comedy and action cartoons followed in 1967, among them are The Space Kidettes, The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, The Herculoids, Shazzan, Fantastic Four, Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor and Samson & Goliath (a.k.a. Young Samson).
Further on, more new TV series of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Adventures of Gulliver and The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn arose on the air in 1968, while the successful Wacky Races and its spinoffs The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines aired on CBS, returned Hanna-Barbera to straight comedy, followed by Cattanooga Cats for ABC. The studio had its first (and only) record label Hanna-Barbera Records, headed by Danny Hutton and distributed by Columbia Records.
It featured many music artists and performers of Louis Prima, Five Americans, Scatman Crothers and the 13th Floor Elevators. Previously, children's records with Yogi Bear and others were released by Colpix Records. Next came the breakthrough hit of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969, which blended elements of comedy, action, the TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and the radio show I Love a Mystery. The series, which ran for two seasons on CBS, centered on four teenagers and a dog solving supernatural mysteries.
1970–1979: Scooby knockoffs, superhero hits, live-action
Referred to as "The General Motors of animation" and as it turned out, Hanna-Barbera would eventually go even further by producing nearly two-thirds of all Saturday morning cartoons in a single year. At its peak, the company controlled over 80% of children's programming for television and at the top of its game, it secured the top three Saturday morning ratings as well, making it the world's largest animation powerhouse. On the horizon, the studio produced a steady stream of new prime time shows, fresh Saturday morning cartoons, mystery-solving and crime-fighting programs featuring teenagers with comical pets and or mascots, superhero and action-adventure productions and many new spinoffs for TV broadcast.
These include Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and the Pussycats, Where's Huddles, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!, The Funky Phantom, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, The Flintstone Comedy Hour, The Roman Holidays, Sealab 2020, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, Speed Buggy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, Yogi's Gang, Super Friends, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Inch High, Private Eye, Jeannie, The Addams Family, Hong Kong Phooey, Devlin, Partridge Family 2200 A.D., These Are The Days, Valley of the Dinosaurs, Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, The Tom and Jerry Show, The Great Grape Ape Show, The Mumbly Cartoon Show, The Scooby-Doo Show, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, Clue Club, Jabberjaw, Laff-A-Lympics, CB Bears, The Robonic Stooges, The All-New Super Friends Hour, The All-New Popeye Hour, Yogi's Space Race, Galaxy Goof-Ups, Buford and the Galloping Ghost, Challenge of the Super Friends, Godzilla, Jana of the Jungle, The New Fred and Barney Show, Casper and the Angels, The New Shmoo, The Super Globetrotters, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The World's Greatest Super Friends and Hanna-Barbera's first English dub series Amigo and Friends.
The majority of American television and film animation were made by Hanna-Barbera (including the 1973 animated film Charlotte's Web, which was owned by Paramount Pictures via Paramount Animation) with their major competition coming from DePatie–Freleng Enterprises and Filmation Associates. With the failure of its show Uncle Croc's Block, Fred Silverman, president of ABC, dropped Filmation and gave H-B the majority of its Saturday morning cartoon time. Along with the rest of the American animation industry, it began moving away from producing all its cartoons in-house in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Joe Ruby and Ken Spears left to found their own studio Ruby-Spears Enterprises in 1977, with Filmways as its parent company. In 1979, Taft bought Worldvision Enterprises, which would become the syndication distributor for the Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
In a different venture, the studio tried its hand at producing TV shows and films entirely in live-action, though its success selling such programming was limited by its track record as an animation company. Hanna-Barbera had already gotten into live-action earlier in the late sixties (mixing it with animation). Its live-action unit was spun off and renamed Solow Production Company, which immediately following the name change, was able to sell the action series Man from Atlantis to NBC. Hanna-Barbera's most distinguished live-action production by far was The Gathering, an Emmy award-winning TV movie starring Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton, written by James Poe and directed by Randal Kleiser.
International expansion and educational projects
In Australia, Hanna-Barbera Pty. Ltd. was formed in 1972 as an Australian unit of the American studio. In 1974, 50% of Hanna-Barbera Australia was acquired by the Hamlyn Group, which in 1978 was acquired by James Hardie Industries. In 1983, both Taft and James Hardie Industries reorganized the division as Taft-Hardie Group Pty. Ltd. The company established a division in Los Angeles known as Southern Star Productions, headed by Buzz Potamkin in 1984.
New cartoons produced by this unit, would be animated by the Hanna-Barbera studio in Sydney, Australia and carried the name Southern Star/Hanna-Barbera Australia. In 1987, Hanna-Barbera Poland was established to produce cartoon shows and VHS videocassettes for Polish-speaking audiences. It operated under that name until 1993. In Italy, Hanna-Barbera's cartoons had become very popular. The studio launched a major thrust into the European market with the introduction of the Hanna-Barbera Hour, which was supported by an integrated European marketing program.
For earthquake preparedness, Yogi Bear, one of Hanna-Barbera's most famous creations, was chosen to be spokesman and mascot for Earthquake Preparedness Month in California. Its most notable event is the Shakey Quakey Schoolhouse Van exhibit, a project by Barbera and Michael D. Antonovich as well as an educational film, produced by H-B and directed by Bill Perez for the City of Los Angeles Earthquake Preparedness Program, featuring Yogi showing and teaching the viewers what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Production process changes
From and between the years of 1957 to 1995, Hanna-Barbera had produced nightly prime time, Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoons for all three major networks and syndication in the United States. The small budgets that TV animation producers had to work within prevented them, and most other producers of American television animation, from working with the full theatrical-quality animation the duo had been known for at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While the budget for MGM's seven-minute Tom and Jerry shorts was about $35,000, the Hanna-Barbera studios was required to produce five-minute Ruff and Reddy episodes for no more than $3,000 a piece.
To keep within these tighter budgets, Hanna-Barbera modified the concept of limited animation (also called semi-animation) practiced and popularized by the United Productions of America (UPA) studio, which also once had a partnership with Columbia Pictures. Character designs were simplified, and backgrounds and animation cycles (walks, runs, etc.) were regularly re-purposed. Characters were often broken up into a handful of levels, so that only the parts of the body that needed to be moved at a given time (i.e. a mouth, an arm, a head) would be animated. The rest of the figure would remain on a held animation cel. This allowed a typical 10-minute short to be done with only 1,200 drawings instead of the usual 26,000.
Dialogue, music, and sound effects were emphasized over action, leading Chuck Jones—a contemporary who worked for Hanna and Barbera's rivals at Warner Bros. Cartoons when the duo was at MGM, and one who, with his short The Dover Boys practically invented many of the concepts in limited animation—to disparagingly refer to the limited television cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and others as "illustrated radio". In a story published by The Saturday Evening Post in 1961, critics stated that Hanna-Barbera was taking on more work than it could handle and was resorting to shortcuts only a television audience would tolerate. An executive who worked for Walt Disney Productions said, "We don't even consider [them] competition". Animation historian Christopher P. Lehman argues that Hanna-Barbera attempted to maximize their bottom line by also recycling story formulas and characterization instead of introducing new ones.
Once a formula for an original series was deemed successful, the studio would keep reusing it in subsequent series. Besides copying their own works, Hanna-Barbera would draw inspiration from the works of other people and studios. Lehman considers that the studio served as a main example of how animation studios which focused on TV animation differed from those that focused on theatrical animation. Theatrical animation studios tried to maintain full and fluid animation, and consequently struggled with the rising expenses associated with producing it. Limited animation as practiced by Hanna-Barbera kept production costs at a minimum. The cost in quality of using this technique was that Hanna-Barbera's characters only moved when absolutely necessary.
Ironically, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hanna-Barbera was the only studio in Hollywood that was actively hiring, and it picked up a number of Disney artists who were laid off during this period. Its solution to the criticism over its quality was to go into movies. It produced six theatrical films, among them are higher-quality versions of its TV cartoons and adaptations of other material. It was also the first animation studio to have their work produced overseas. One of these companies was a subsidiary started by Hanna-Barbera called Fil-Cartoons in the Philippines. Wang Film Productions got its start as an overseas facility for the studio in 1978.
1980–1990: Smurf craze, later years
1980 saw the debuts of Super Friends, The Flintstone Comedy Show, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Richie Rich. New programs emerged in 1981, such as Laverne and Shirley in the Army, Space Stars, The Kwicky Koala Show and Trollkins. Taft purchased Ruby-Spears from Filmways the same year, becoming a sister company to Hanna-Barbera. While Rankin/Bass, Filmation, Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions, introduced successful shows based on action figures and toy lines, Hanna-Barbera continued to produce for Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons, but no longer dominated the TV animation market as it did formerly and its control over children's programming went down from 80% to 20%.
The highly successful Daytime Emmy-winning show The Smurfs, based on the comic created by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford (known as Peyo) and centering on a gang of little blue forest dwelling creatures led by Papa Smurf, premiered and aired on NBC for nine seasons, becoming the longest-running Saturday morning cartoon series in TV history, a significant ratings success and smash hit, the top-rated program in eight years and the highest for an NBC show since 1970. In 1982, fresh animated cartoons of Jokebook, The Gary Coleman Show, Shirt Tales, Pac-Man, The Little Rascals and The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour first aired along with the musical feature Heidi's Song for theatrical release.
The Dukes, Monchhichis, The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The Biskitts and Lucky Luke came to the airwaves in 1983. The studio set up a computerized digital ink and paint system and was innovative for its time. It was the first to use digital coloring, long before other animation studios. This process did not require as much effort as time consuming labor of painting on cels and photographing them. Many of Hanna and Barbera's shows were outsourced to Cuckoo's Nest Studios, Mr. Big Cartoons, Mook Co., Ltd., Toei Animation and Fil-Cartoons in Australia and Asia. The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, Snorks, Challenge of the GoBots, Pink Panther and Sons and Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show all aired in 1984.
In 1985, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo along with Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Galtar and the Golden Lance and Paw Paws (the three shows introduced in The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera) debuted while new episodes of The Jetsons premiered. The studio also presented The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible, its first new made-for-video series. Brand new episodes of Jonny Quest followed by Pound Puppies, The Flintstone Kids, Foofur and Wildfire aired in 1986. Sky Commanders and Popeye and Son debuted in 1987.
Hanna-Barbera was affected by financial troubles of Taft, which been acquired by the American Financial Corporation in 1987 and renamed Great American Broadcasting the following year. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, new episodes of The Yogi Bear Show, Fantastic Max, The Further Adventures of SuperTed and Paddington Bear followed in 1988 and 1989. Worldvision and its programming assets was sold to Aaron Spelling Productions except for Hanna-Barbera's library, which remained owned by Great American. Some of the staff got a call from Warner Bros. to resurrect its animation department. Tom Ruegger and his colleagues left to develop new TV programs there. David Kirschner was named CEO of Hanna-Barbera with Barbera and Hanna remaining as the company's co-chairmen.
In 1990, under Kirschner's direction, the studio formed Bedrock Productions, a unit for various movies and TV shows. Great American put Hanna-Barbera, along with Ruby-Spears, up for sale after being less successful and burdened in debt. Jetsons: The Movie was released in summer of 1990 while new cartoon shows of Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone, Rick Moranis in Gravedale High, Tom & Jerry Kids, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda and Wake, Rattle, and Roll (later as Jump, Rattle, and Roll) first aired for broadcast.
1991–1996: Turner rebound, rise of Cartoon Network
In 1991, Young Robin Hood (a co-production with Canada's CINAR), The Pirates of Dark Water and Yo Yogi! (widely cited as one of the worst cartoons of all time) aired. In November of that same year, the Hanna-Barbera studio and library, as well as much of the Ruby-Spears library, were acquired by a 50-50 joint venture between Turner Broadcasting—which by that time also bought the pre-May 1986 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library—and Apollo Investment Fund for $320 million. This was with the intention of launching an all animation based network aimed at children and younger audiences. Turner's president of entertainment Scott Sassa hired Fred Seibert, a former executive for MTV Networks, to head Hanna-Barbera.
He filled the gap left by the departure of most of their crew during the Great American years with new animators, directors, producers and writers, including Pat Ventura, Craig McCracken, Donovan Cook, Genndy Tartakovsky, David Feiss, Seth MacFarlane, Van Partible, Stewart St. John and Butch Hartman with Buzz Potamkin as new production head. In 1992, the company was renamed as H-B Production Company, and more new shows, such as Fish Police, Capitol Critters and a second Addams Family series, made their debut. Meanwhile, Turner launched the world's first 24-hour all-animation channel, Cartoon Network to broadcast its huge library of animated classics, of which Hanna-Barbera was the core contributor. As a result, many cartoons, especially the Hanna-Barbera ones, were rebroadcast.
In 1993, it changed its name again to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. That same year, Turner acquired the remaining interests of Hanna-Barbera from Apollo Investment Fund for $255 million Both Once Upon a Forest and Tom and Jerry: The Movie (which Barbera would serve as creative consultant of) were released to theaters while new cartoons – Droopy, Master Detective, The New Adventures of Captain Planet (in Planet's case, taking over production from DiC), SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron and 2 Stupid Dogs debuted. In 1994, Turner Broadcasting refocused the studio to produce new shows exclusively for its networks. In 1995, Dumb and Dumber (the final Hanna-Barbera series to air on a broadcast network) aired.
Next came What a Cartoon! (known as World Premiere Toons), an animation showcase led by Seibert. It featured new creator-driven shorts developed for Cartoon Network by its in-house staff. Several new original series emerged from the project, giving the company its first smash hit since The Smurfs and the first show based on a What a Cartoon short was Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory. This spawned a multitude of new programs for the network better known as Cartoon Cartoons. New animated shows Cave Kids and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest premiered in 1996. Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner that same year.
1997–2006: Final years, absorption into Warner Bros. Animation, deaths of founders
In 1997, while new programs of Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel made their debuts on air, the Hanna-Barbera building was facing demolition and was not to be named a Los Angeles city landmark despite pleas from people who wanted it protected as an irreplaceable part of entertainment and California history. Then seven years later, after such a long struggle, the animation studio building in the Cahuenga pass appeared to be safe from the wrecker's ball. The Powerpuff Girls, the final new series from Hanna-Barbera, would first air on Cartoon Network in 1998.
As one of the last "big name" studios with an actual Hollywood zip code, Hanna-Barbera operated on its original lot until 1998, when its studio operations, company archives and extensive animation art collection were all moved northwest to Sherman Oaks, California as it occupied space in the office tower adjacent to Sherman Oaks Galleria with Warner's animation unit. Hanna-Barbera would continue to operate at Sherman Oaks Galleria until 2001, when the studio was absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation. Following its absorption, Cartoon Network Studios was revived and took over production of programming for Cartoon Network.
Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase and Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring would be the last productions executive produced by Hanna and Barbera and their final collaborations together as a team. Hanna died of throat cancer on March 22, 2001. Sidney, who had worked with Hanna and Barbera as their business partner, died from complications of lymphoma on May 5, 2002. Barbera continued to work at Warner Bros. Animation on new cartoon shows, including What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! and Tom and Jerry Tales, as well as the animated short The Karate Guard, until his death of natural causes on December 18, 2006.
2007–present: New projects based on legacy properties
As of 2018, Warner Bros. continues to produce new projects based on legacy Hanna-Barbera properties. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated premiered in 2010, The Tom and Jerry Show premiered in 2014 and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! premiered in 2015. In 2016, it was announced that a Scooby-Doo film reboot was in the works. The film was scheduled for release in September 2018, but was pushed back to 2020. The new movie is intended to be the first installment of a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe.
Hanna-Barbera released its early VHS titles through Worldvision Home Video but due to the shakeup at then owner Taft, which was transformed into Great American Communications, Worldvision was sold off. Accordingly, the animation company began its own home video line, Hanna-Barbera Home Video, which lasted until 1991 when Turner bought the studio and subsequently put the video line on moratorium. Thereafter, all Hanna-Barbera titles were distributed by Turner Home Entertainment. Then following the Turner and Time Warner merger, Warner Home Video would handle the home video releases of the cartoons and later by Warner Archive.
There were also a slew of comic books featuring characters from its shows, including many by Archie Comics from 1995 to 1997. DC Comics took over and has been doing the H-B comics since 1997. DC announced a new comic book initiative titled Hanna-Barbera Beyond, to re-imagine some of the Hanna-Barbera studio's classic cartoons into some darker and edgier settings. The first comic books on the line are Future Quest, Scooby Apocalypse, The Flintstones and Wacky Raceland. New titles arrived in March 2017 crossing over with the DC Universe.
On June 29, Warner Bros. celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the formation the studio with the Hanna-Barbera Diamond Collection from Warner Home Video, re-releasing the complete seasons and series sets of the cartoon shows on DVD in Region 1.
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Hanna-Barbera was noted for their large library of sound effects. Besides cartoon-style sound effects (such as ricochets, slide whistles, etc.), they also had familiar sounds used for transportation, household items and more. When Hanna and Barbera started their studio in 1957, they created a handful of sound effects, and had limited choices. They also took some sounds from the then-defunct Metro-Goldwyn Mayer cartoon studio and from various cartoon/movie studios like Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation, and Walt Disney Productions. By 1958, they began to expand and added more sound effects to their library. The Hanna-Barbera sound effects are rarely and sparingly used in children's programs from other studios, as well as live action films, animated films and video games.
List of Hanna-Barbera productions
- List of Hanna-Barbera characters
- List of films based on Hanna-Barbera cartoons
- List of Hanna-Barbera-based video games
- Hanna-Barbera in amusement parks
- Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection
- Animation in the United States in the television era
- Laugh track
- Holz, Jo (2017). Kids' TV Grows Up: The Path from Howdy Doody to SpongeBob. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 81–85, 124–126. ISBN 978-1-4766-6874-1.
- "William Hanna – Awards". allmovie. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
- "Hanna-Barbera Sculpture Unveiled Animation Legends Honored in Hall of Fame Plaza". Emmys.com. March 16, 2005. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
- "COMPANY NEWS; Hanna-Barbera Sale Is Weighed". The New York Times. July 20, 1991. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- Carter, Bill (February 19, 1992). "COMPANY NEWS; A New Life For Cartoons". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
- Barbera 1994, p. 83–84.
- Barbera 1994, p. 207.
- Barrier 2003, pp. 547–548.
- Leonard Maltin (1997). Interview with Joseph Barbera (Digital). Archive of American Television.
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