American film production companies

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Silent movie era

American East

Film company Foundation and existence Film samples Total production (source: IMDb)
Famous Players Film Corporation Founded in 1912 by Adolph Zukor , Daniel Frohman and Edwin S. Porter in New York City 1913-19: 140 films
Famous Players-Lasky Corporation 1916 through the merger of the Famous Players Corp. founded with the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company Hearts of the World (1918), Male and Female (1919) 1916-27: 567 films
Wharton Studio Founded by Leopold Wharton around 1916 in Ithaca , New York approx. 1916-26
The Vitaphone Corporation Founded in Brooklyn , New York in 1926 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) 1927-59: 584 films


At the beginning of the 20th century, various film companies left their previous locations in the American East and moved to what is now Hollywood, where the reliably sunny weather and the wide, diverse and unsettled landscape offered better shooting conditions than the American Northeast. Also, film entrepreneurs in California - thousands of miles from New Jersey, home to the Motion Picture Patents Company - found it easier than on the East Coast to ignore Thomas Edison's countless film patents that had made film production unprofitable.

The first film company to come to the area was the Selig Polyscope Company (founded in Chicago in 1896 ). In 1909 this company set up a small film studio in Ebendale, a small town north of Los Angeles. In 1910 the New York Biograph Company sent its director David Wark Griffith to Los Angeles to shoot the film "In Old California" in the vicinity of the city. Griffith chose the region that is now called Hollywood for the shooting. More films followed, and word of the location's benefits began to spread among producers. In 1911 the Nestor Motion Picture Company opened a film studio in Hollywood; 15 other independent producers followed in the same year. In 1913 Cecil B. DeMille came to Hollywood to shoot his film " The Squaw Man " in a rented studio .

Since the second decade of the 20th century, the Hollywood district in the northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and the neighboring districts of Burbank and Westside have been the main location of the American film industry.

Film company Foundation and existence Film samples Total production (source: IMDb)
Selig Polyscope Company Founded in Chicago in 1896 by William Selig ; since 1909 branch in Ebendale / California Damon and Pythias (1908; first two-act act in American film history) 1898-1921: 1,297 films
American Vitagraph Company Founded in 1897 by James Stuart Blackton , Albert E. Smith and Ronald A. Reader in Brooklyn / New York; Renamed The Vitagraph Company of America in 1900 ; in Hollywood since 1910 ; Purchased by Warner Bros. in 1925 First film adaptations of several Shakespeare dramas 1898-1927: 2,534 films
Biograph Company Founded in New York City in 1895 as the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company; in Hollywood since 1910 Judith of Bethulien (1914) 1900-1916 (Biograph Company): 991 films; 1896 – present (American Mutoscope & Biograph Company): 1,768 films
Essanay Film Manufacturing Company Founded in Chicago in 1907; in Hollywood since 1912 ; Disbanded in 1917 Brocho Billy -Western by Gilbert M. Anderson ; Films by Charles Chaplin 1907-1917: 1,542 films
Nestor Motion Picture Company Founded in 1907 as the Centaur Film Company in Bayonne, New Jersey; in Hollywood since 1911 ; 1912 incorporated into the Universal Film Company 1910-1922: 644 films
First National Pictures Inc. Gun over (1918), The Falcon's Trail (1941) 1911-1949: 563 films
Keystone Film Company Founded in 1912 by Mack Sennett in Glendale , California Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) 1912-1919: 508 films
Universal Film Manufacturing Company Founded in Universal City in 1912 by Carl Laemmle Where are my children? (1916), Blind Husbands (1919) 1913-29: 2,031 films
Kalem Company Founded in New York City in 1907 by Frank J. Marion , Samuel Long, and George Kleine ; in Hollywood since 1913 From the Manger to the Cross (1912) 1907-1918: 1,012 films
Mutual Film Corporation Founded in 1906 by John R. Freuler and Harry E. Aitken in Milwaukee / Wisconsin; later also a studio in Los Angeles; later became part of RKO Pictures 1913–1918: 29 films
Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company Founded in Hollywood in 1914 by Jesse L. Lasky , Samuel Goldwyn and Cecil B. DeMille The Cheat (1915) 1914–1919: 150 films
Metro Pictures Corporation Founded in 1914 by Richard A. Rowland and Louis B. Mayer in New York City; in Hollywood since 1915 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) 1915–1924: 193 films
National Film Corporation of America Founded in 1915 by William Parsons Tarzan of the Apes (1918) 1915–24: 27 films
Triangle Film Corporation Founded in Hollywood in the summer of 1915 by Harry and Roy Aitken Intolerance (1916), Hell's Hinges (1916) 1915-22: 245 films
Mary Pickford Company Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley (1918), Daddy-Long-Legs (1919), My Best Girl (1927) 1916–1933: 22 films
Charles Chaplin Productions Founded in Hollywood in 1917 by Charles Chaplin Gold Rush (1925), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940) 1922–1959: 11 films
Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corp. 1917 by Douglas Fairbanks Sr. founded in Hollywood The thief of Baghdad (1924) 1917–1924: 19 films
Fox Film Corporation Founded in 1915 by William Fox as a merger of Greater New York Rental and Fox Office Attractions Company in Fort Lee, New Jersey; in Hollywood since 1917; 1935 incorporated into 20th Century Fox The Nigger (1915), Regeneration (1915), Sunrise - A Song of Two People (1927) 1914-1935: 1,369 films
Louis B. Mayer Pictures Founded in Los Angeles in 1917 or 1918 by Louis B. Mayer Her Kingdom of Dreams (1919) 1918–1925: 31 films
Hal Roach Studios Inc. Skyscraper of all things (1923) 1919–2002: 899 films
DW Griffith Productions Founded around 1918 by DW Griffith in Hollywood Hearts of the World (1918), Broken Flowers (1919) 1918–1931: 19 films
Goldwyn Picture Corporation Founded in 1916 by Samuel Goldwyn among others in Fort Lee , New Jersey ; since 1920 also in Culver City , California The Penalty (1920) 1917–1924: 189 films
Buster Keaton Productions Inc. Founded by Buster Keaton in Hollywood after breaking up with Fatty Arbuckle (1920) The Balloonatic (1922), The Navigator (1924), The General (1926), Steamboat Bill junior (1928) 1922–1928: 11 films
The Harold Lloyd Corporation Founded by Harold Lloyd at the end of 1923 The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927) 1924–38: 12 films
Walt Disney Pictures Founded in 1923 by the brothers Walt and Roy Disney as The Disney Bros. Cartoon Studio in Burbank, California; Renamed Walt Disney Studios in 1925 ; 1929 in Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. renamed; Renamed The Walt Disney Company in 1986 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Fantasia (1940), The Jungle Book (1967) 1927 – today: 1,064 films
Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky Corporation Founded in New York in 1927, further studios in Los Angeles The Wedding March (1928) 1918–1930: 153 films
Paramount Publix Corporation 1930 by renaming the Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky Corporation; direct predecessor of the Paramount Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Twentieth Century Pictures Founded in 1932 by Darryl F. Zanuck and others; 1935 incorporated into 20th Century Fox Les Misérables (1935), Show Them No Mercy! (1935) 1933–1936: 20 films

Sound film era

Hollywood: the eight greats

In the 1930s and 1940s, the American film market was ruled by five large film studios that formed an oligopoly in the key areas of production, distribution and cinema : Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, RKO Pictures, Paramount and 20th Century Fox. Three other production companies, the "Little Three" (Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and United Artists) were integrated into this studio system , but had far less influence than the "Big Five".

Film company Foundation and existence Film samples Total production
Warner bros. The company was founded by the brothers Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack L. Warner with changing locations in fact since 1903; 1918 establishment of a film studio in Hollywood; 1923 formal founding of "Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc."; 1972 renamed Warner Communications ; 1989 merged with the publishing house Time to "Time Warner" Casablanca (1942), GoodFellas (1990), The Dark Knight (2008), Harry Potter series , Matrix series 1918 – today: 2,962 films
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Founded in 1924 from the merger of Metro Pictures Corporation , Goldwyn Picture Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures ; Purchased by Sony in 2005 Greed (1924), The Great Parade (1925), The Magical Land (1939), The Invisible Third (1959), Doctor Schiwago (1965), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 1924 – today: 2,859 films
RKO Pictures Founded in 1929 as a merger of several smaller companies; 1957 production operation stopped The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Citizen Kane (1941), Notorious (1946), Isn't life beautiful? (1946) 1929–1957: 1,171 films
Paramount Pictures established in 1935 as Paramount Pictures, Inc. as the successor to Paramount-Famous Players-Lasky ; Acquired by Viacom in 1994 Twilight Boulevard (1950), The Courtyard Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), The Godfather (1972), Indiana Jones (1981), Forrest Gump (1994), Titanic (1997) 1914 – today: 2,210 films
20th Century Fox Formed in 1935 from the merger of Fox Film Corporation and Twentieth Century Pictures ; Acquired in 1985 by Rupert Murdochs News Corporation . Taken over by The Walt Disney Company in March 2019 and continued as 20th Century Studios from 2020. Ritt zum Ox-Bow (1943), All about Eva (1950), Alien (1979), Avatar (2009), the Star Wars series 1935 – present (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.): 544 films; 1948-present (20th Century Fox): 946 films
Universal Pictures 1909 founded as Yankee Film Company by German Carl Laemmle in New York City; Renamed Independent Moving Picture Company of America (IMP); in Hollywood since 1911; 1912 merger with several other companies and renamed Universal Pictures ; 2004 with the radio and television network NBC to NBC Universal partnered Nothing New in the West (1930), The Clou (1973), Jaws (1975), ET - The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Schindler's List (1993), Jurassic Park (1993) 1910/11 (Yankee Film Company): 6 films; 1909-1917 (IMP): 760 films; 1916-present (Universal Pictures): 3,335 films
United Artists Founded in Hollywood in 1919 by Charles Chaplin , Douglas Fairbanks , Mary Pickford and DW Griffith ; Purchased by Sony in 2005 The General (1926), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), To Be or Not To Be (1942) 1921 – today: 121 films
Columbia Pictures Founded in 1924 from CBC Film Sales Corporation ; Purchased by Sony in 1989 The Fist in the Neck (1954), Taxi Driver (1976), The Condemned (1994), Crazy Christmas (2004) 1915 – today: 2,979 films

Hollywood: Other companies

Film company Foundation and existence Film samples Total production
Selznick International Pictures Founded in 1935 by David O. Selznick in Culver City , California Gone with the Wind (1939), Rebecca (1940), I'll fight for you (1945) 1936–53: 17 films
Vanguard Films Founded in 1943 by David O. Selznick The spiral staircase (1945), Jenny (1948) 1944–52: 10 films
Transatlantic Pictures Founded in 1947 by Alfred Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein Cocktail for a Corpse (1948) 1948–49: 2 films
Buena Vista Founded in 1954 by Walt Disney . Born to be Wild (2006), The Sixth Sense (1999) 1954 – today: 2,979 films
Shamley Productions Founded in 1955 by Alfred Hitchcock Psycho (1960)
Embassy Pictures Corporation formed around 1958 by Joseph E. Levine from a sales company The Maturity Exam (1967), The Lion in Winter (1986) 1958–86: 26 films
Shirtale Film Corporation Founded in West Hollywood in 1967 by David Hemmings and John Daly The Terminator (1984), Platoon (1986) 1970–92: 44 films
New Line Cinema Founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye as a film distributor; later converted into a subsidiary of Time Warner The Lord of the Rings (2001-03) 1968 – today: 272 films
Lions Gate Films Locations in Santa Monica and New York City Gods and Monsters (1998), Buffalo 66 (1998) 1970 – today: 110 films
Malpaso Productions Founded in 1971 by Clint Eastwood in Los Angeles The Bridges on the River (1995), Mystic River (2003) 1988-2006: 19 films
Chartoff-Winkler Production by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff I. founded Rocky (1976), Like a Wild Bull (1980) 1972 – today: 17 films
Orion Pictures Corporation Founded in 1978 as a joint venture between Warner Bros. and a group of executives from United Artists; Purchased by MGM in 1998 The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 1979-98: 76 films
Miramax Films Founded in 1979 by Harvey and Bob Weinstein Pulp Fiction (1994), The English Patient (1996) 1985 – today: 203 films
TriStar Pictures Founded in 1983 as a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures Glory (1989), It Couldn't Be Better (1997) 1984 – today: 143 films
Amblin Entertainment Founded in 1984 by Steven Spielberg in Burbank ET - The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Back to the Future (1985), Schindler's List (1993), Jurassic Park (1993) 1981 – today: 100 films
Touchstone Pictures Founded in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company Splash - A virgin on the hook (1984), Born to Be Wild (2007), Listen to the hammer (1991-1999) 1984 – today: 220 films
Castle Rock Entertainment Founded in 1987 by Rob Reiner and others; Acquired by Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) in 1994 ; Merged with Time Warner in 1996 The Condemned (1994) 1989 – today: 91 films
Hollywood Pictures Founded in 1990 as a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company Arachnophobia (1990), Stay Alive (2006) 1990-2001: 83 films
Regency Enterprises JFK (1991), LA Confidential (1997) 1990 – today: 72 films
Section Eight Founded by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh as a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Insomnia (2002), Far from Heaven (2002) 1990-2006: 32 films
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Founded in 1991 as a British company based in London , merged with Universal Pictures in 1999; Based in Beverly Hills Nell (1994), Fargo (1996) 1980-2000: 145 films
Gramercy Pictures Founded in 1992 by Tom Pollock Fargo (1996), Being John Malkovich (1999) 1993 – today: 14 films
Jersey Films Founded in 1992 by Danny DeVito and Michael Shamberg in Los Angeles Pulp Fiction (1994), Erin Brockovich (2000) 1992 – today: 24 films
A band apart founded by Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender in Los Angeles Pulp Fiction (1994) 1994 – today: 25 films
DreamWorks SKG Founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg , Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen ; Acquired by Viacom in 2005 American Beauty (1999) 1996 – today: 137 films
Fox Searchlight Pictures Founded in 1994 as a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Quills (2000), Sideways (2004) 1996 – today: 43 films
Fox 2000 Pictures Founded by Sandy Isaac as a subsidiary of Fox Filmed Entertainment (FFE) Fight Club (1999), Phone Booth (2002) 1996 – today: 47 films
Anonymous content Established in 1999 in Culver City Forget Me Not! (2004), 50 first dates (2004), case 39 (2009) 2000 – today: 20 films
Skydance Media Founded in 2006 by David Ellison in Santa Monica, California True Grit (2010) 2006 – today: 22 films
A24 Founded in 2012 in New York and Los Angeles Spring Breakers (2012), Ex Machina (2015), Space (2015) 2012 – today: 46 films

Companies outside of Hollywood

Film company Foundation and existence Film samples Total production (source: IMDb)
American Zoetrope / Zoetrope Studios by Francis Ford Coppola in San Francisco founded The Dialogue (1974), Lost in Translation (2003) 1969 – today: 63 films
The Saul Zaentz Company Location in Berkeley , California Amadeus (1984) 1984 – today: 9 films
Lucasfilm Ltd. Founded in 1971 by George Lucas in Marin County, California (near San Francisco) Star Wars (1977), Indiana Jones (1981) 1986 – today: 63 films
Pixar Animation Studios Founded 1986 in Emeryville , California (near San Francisco ) Toy Story (1995), Finding Nemo (2003) 1984 – today: 28 films
View Askew Productions 1994 by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier in Red Bank , New Jersey Dogma (film) (1999), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) 1994 – today: 11 films
Newmarket Capital Group LLC Founded in 1994 by William Tyrer and Chris Ball in New York City Topsy-Turvy (1999), Memento (2000) 1995 – today: 27 films
Focus features Founded in New York in 2002 from the merger of USA Films and Good Machine ; belongs to Universal Pictures Forget Me Not! (2004) 2002 – today: 22 films
This Is That Productions Location in New York City 21 grams (2003), don't forget mine! (2004) 2003 – today: 12 films


  • Benjamin B. Hampton: History of the American Film Industry. From its Beginnings to 1931 . New York (Dover Publications) 1970 (Eng.)
  • Joel W. Finler: The Hollywood Story . New York (Crown Publishers) 1988 (Eng.)

Web links

See also