Movie, Radio, TV Timeline US

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Major Five Movie Studios in 2022

  1. NBC Universal

    In 2004 amid a major financial crisis caused by over-expansion, Universal Studios' parent company, a division of the French company Vivendi Universal, sold an 80% stake to NBC's parent company General Electric, forming NBC Universal.

    In 2013 Comcast (Xfinity) the largest cable TV and home ISP company in the US, purchased NBC Universal from General Electric.

  2. Paramount also opened in 1912, becoming one of the "Big Five" studios during the 1930s and 1940s. The so-called Big Five were integrated conglomerates combining ownership of a production studio, distribution division, substantial theatre chain, as well as contracts with performers and filmmaking personnel.

    In 1953 a spin-off company Paramount Theatres purchased struggling Radio and Television network ABC. ABC had initially been started in 1927 as an NBC-operated radio network called the NBC Blue Network. It became independent in 1943, renaming itself as ABC and launching its first TV station in Philadelphia in 1948. In 1954, AB-PT made a deal with Walt Disney to provide capital for his proposed Disneyland amusement park.

    Following major success in the 1970s, ABC was purchased by the much smaller company Capital Cities in 1986. It was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 1996.

    In 1976 Paramount launched Showtime cable television, competing with Home Box Office HBO, see below under Warners.

    Paramount also had close ties with Radio and Television Broadcasting network CBS on and off through the years and the two companies merged in 2019. CBS had just purchased Channel 10 in Australia, in 2017.

    Paramount's Market Share in US and Canada in 2021 was 6%.

  3. Warner Brothers opened in 1923, one of the Big Five studios during the 1930s and 1940s.

    In 1972, Warner Brothers became Warner Communications, purchasing a number of major cable channels. In 1991 it merged with Time, becoming Time Warner, and in the process acquired HBO (Home Box Office), the original cable movie channel founded in 1972. In 1996 Time Warner acquired Turner Broadcasting System with distribution rights to all of Ted Turner's classic movie library from MGM, see MGM below.

    In 2018 Time Warner was acquired by AT&T briefly, before its sale and merger with Discovery in April 2022.

    Market Share in US and Canada in 2021 was 14%.

  4. Walt Disney Pictures also opened in 1923, focusing on animations and G-rated movies. Until the 1960s, Walt Disney Pictures rated about ninth in overall market share.
    In 2019 Disney purchased 21st Century-Fox and its Market Share in US and Canada in 2021 became 25%. 20th Century Fox had been renamed 21st Century Fox in 2013.

    Fox Films arrived in Hollywood in 1916 from New Jersey. Fox merged with 20th Century Pictures to form 20th Century Fox in 1935, becoming one of the Big Five studios.

    In 1985 it was purchased by News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch) founder of the FOX Television Network. FOX was launched by News Corporation in 1986 as a competitor to the "Big Three" i.e. ABC, CBS, NBC.
    News Corporation has retained the FOX TV network after the sale of the studios to Disney.

  5. Columbia Pictures (today Sony Pictures) moved to Hollywood from New York in 1924. Another of the original "Little Three" major minor studios during the 1930s and 1940s with a few theatres. Started Screen Gems cartoons in 1933, which became Screen Gems Television in 1948. In 1974 Screen Gems Television became Columbia Pictures Television. Purchased by Coca Cola in 1982 who sold it to Sony in 1989. Market Share in US and Canada in 2021 was 25%.

Past Major Studios

RKO Radio Pictures (RKO) (1928–1959) owned by RCA, was originally one of the Big Five studios. It was bought by Howard Hughes in 1948, was mismanaged and dismantled, and was pretty much defunct by the 1957 studio lot sale. It has been revived several times as an independent studio, with most recent film releases in 2012 and 2015.

United Artists (UA) (1919–1981) was the third of the Little Three major minor studios, originally only a distributor for independent film producers. Acquired by MGM in 1981. Its most famous brand is the James Bond franchise starting with Dr No in 1962.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Marcus Loew's MGM) (1924–1986) was probably at the top of the Big Five studios in the 1930s and 1940s. It was acquired by Ted Turner in 1986, who sold the studio back to Kirk Kerkorian that year while retaining MGM's pre-May 1986 library. Sold to Sony in 2005 it became a mini-major studio. Emerged twice from bankruptcy in the 2010s. Since March 2022 it is owned by Amazon.

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