Sunset Productions was a television syndication division of Guild Films which existed in the 1950s.
Sunset Productions is best known as the company identified in the copyright notice on a package of black-and-white Warner Bros. cartoons distributed in television syndication beginning in 1955, which were sold to Guild Films. This package consisted of the black-and-white Looney Tunes, plus all black-and-white Merrie Melodies after the Harman-Ising era, 191 cartoons in all. The remaining pre-August 1948 cartoons (which included all color releases from that period, plus the Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies minus Lady, Play Your Mandolin!) were sold to Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.) in 1956.
New opening and closing titles were made to remove any references to the original studio because at the time, WB did not want to be associated with television. Any WB references in the cartoons themselves were also removed - such as in Porky in Wackyland, where the dodo zooms up with the WB shield to hit Porky Pig with a slingshot, then zooms back out.
A peculiar error is consistently seen on the copyright notices on Sunset Productions title cards, in which the copyright date is incorrectly rendered in Roman numerals as "MXM..." rather than the correct "MCM..." (i.e. MXMXLI for 1941).
The actual distribution was handled by Guild Films. Sunset was dissolved by WB in the late 1950s; Guild shut down in 1961, and WB sold TV rights to the cartoons to Seven Arts Productions. Then, in 1967, Seven Arts bought WB and became Warner Bros.-Seven Arts; at this point, WB regained TV distribution rights to these cartoons.
Soon after the WB-7A merger was complete, the studio had 79 of these black-and-white cartoons redrawn in color due to the increased demand for color cartoons by TV stations; these colorizations, produced in South Korea by Fred Ladd, have often been criticized for their inferiority to the original animation. The same 79 cartoons were colorized again in the early 1990s (along with 25 other cartoons not redrawn in 1968), this time using a computer to add color to the cartoons, thus preserving the original animation, but still the cartoons were shown in a way they were not meant to be seen (the end result was very close to the color Merrie Melodies that had been released around the same time; in essence, the cartoons sold to a.a.p.). Some of the computer-colorized versions (of 1937-43 cartoons) mistakenly use the 1936-37 Looney Tunes theme (also known as the "Porky Signature") instead of "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" (possibly due to an oversight). Time Warner wouldn't own the a.a.p. WB cartoons until they merged with Turner Broadcasting System, owner of the a.a.p. package (via Turner Entertainment Co.).
Today, when using the terms "pre-August 1948" and "post-July 1948" to describe the television packages of WB cartoons, the former is usually used exclusively to refer to those cartoons in the a.a.p. package, and not including the cartoons sold to Sunset Productions.
List of cartoons in the "Sunset Productions" package
- Note: All cartoons are Looney Tunes except where noted. Titles in boldface are available on DVD as part of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection.
- Note: All cartoons released in 1930 and 1931 are in the public domain. For all other years, PD cartoons will be marked with an asterisk.
- Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1955-02-19). "Billboard".
- The latest released WB cartoon sold to a.a.p. was Haredevil Hare, released on July 24, 1948.
- The earliest-released color cartoon to have been retained by WB over the years is You Were Never Duckier, released on August 1, 1948.
- Has only computer-colorized version
- Has redrawn and computer-colorized versions