Warner Bros. Pictures


Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures Group
FormerlyWarner Bros. Pictures, Inc. (1923–1967)
Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, Inc. (1967–1970)
Warner Bros. Inc. (1970–1992)
PredecessorWarner Features Company
FoundedApril 4, 1923; 98 years ago (1923-04-04)[1]
Headquarters4000 Warner Boulevard, ,
Area served
Key people
RevenueIncrease US$13.866 billion (2017)[2]
Increase US$1.761 billion (2017)[2]
OwnerWarnerMedia Studios & Networks Group
(pending merge approval with Discovery, Inc. to form Warner Bros. Discovery)
Number of employees
Est. 8,000 (2014)[3]
ParentWarner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. Pictures[4] is an American film production studio and division of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which is owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia. The studio is the flagship producer of live-action feature films within the Warner Bros. Pictures Group unit, and is based at the Warner Bros. Studios complex in Burbank, California. Animated films produced by Warner Bros. Animation and the Warner Animation Group are also released under the studio banner.

Warner Bros. Pictures is currently one of five live-action film studios within the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, the others being New Line Cinema, DC Films, Castle Rock Entertainment, and the Spyglass Media Group. The final installment of the Harry Potter film series is the studio's highest-grossing film worldwide with $1.3 billion.[5]

Founded in 1923 by brothers Harry Warner, Albert Warner, Sam Warner, and Jack L. Warner, in addition to producing its own films, it handles filmmaking operations, theatrical distribution, marketing and promotion for films produced and released by other Warner Bros. labels, including Warner Animation Group, New Line Cinema, DC Films, and Castle Rock Entertainment, as well as various third-party producers.


The studio's predecessor (and the modern-day Warner Bros Entertainment as a whole) was founded as the Warner Features Company in New Castle, Pennsylvania, by filmmaker Sam Warner and his business partners and brothers, Harry, Albert, and Jack, in 1911.[6] They produced their first film, the Peril of the Plains[7] in 1912, which Sam directed. In 1915, Sam and Jack moved to California to establish their production studio,[8] while Albert and Harry on July 8, 1915, set up the New York based Warner Bros. Distributing Corporation to release the films.[9]

In 1927, Warner Bros. Pictures revolutionized the film industry when the American-Jewish Warner brothers released their first pictures "talkie" The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. However, founding member Sam Warner died prior to the premiere of the film.[10] From 1923 to 1967, Warner Bros. was known as Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. as their main focus was entirely on the motion picture industry. When the company diversified over the years, it was eventually rebranded to its current umbrella name, but Warner Bros. Pictures continued to be used as the name of the film production arm of the company.

In November 1966, Jack gave in to advancing age and changing times, selling control of the studio and music business to Seven Arts Productions, run by Canadian investors Elliot and Kenneth Hyman, for $32 million.[11] Eventually, the company, including the studio, was renamed Warner Bros.-Seven Arts on July 14, 1967.[12]

Warner Bros. Pictures

The division was incorporated as Warner Bros. Pictures on March 3, 2003 to diversify film subjects and expand audiences for their film releases.[4] The company became part of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, which was established in 2008, and Jeff Robinov was appointed the first president of the company.[13] In 2017, longtime New Line executive Toby Emmerich joined as president. In January 2018, he was elevated to chairman.[14][15] On October 23, 2018 it was announced Lynne Frank, President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, would be leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.[16] In June 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures signed an agreement with SF Studios to have their films distributed in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.[17]

As with most other film distributors, Warner Bros. Pictures struggled with releasing films during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions on theater openings. After pushing several films planned for 2020 into 2021, WB announced in December 2020 that they would take the unusual approach of having their entire slate of 2021 films planned for both theatrical release as well as having a simultaneous one-month period of availability on the HBO Max streaming service, in a similar manner for how they were releasing Wonder Woman 1984 that month. After one month, such films would still be available in theaters and would then later be available via home media under typical release schedules.[18] The move to include streaming, dubbed "Project Popcorn", was criticized by production companies, directors, and actors as Warner Bros. Pictures had not informed anyone about the plan ahead of the announcement, as well of concerns of lower payouts due to the streaming options,[19] leading Warner Bros. Pictures to alter its compensation rates for the affected films by January 2021 to provide larger payouts to casts and crews of these films.[20]

In March 2021 Warner Bros. announced that for 2022 they will discontinue their same-day HBO Max and theatrical release model in favor of a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window.[21] This is part of an agreement the studio reached with Cineworld (who operates Regal Cinemas).[22]

Film library

Gate 4, Warner Bros. Studios, looking south towards the water tower

Acquired libraries

Mergers and acquisitions have helped Warner Bros. accumulate a diverse collection of films, cartoons and television programs. As of 2019, Warner Bros. owned more than 100,000 hours of programming, including 8,600 feature films and 5,000 television programs comprising tens of thousands of individual episodes.[23]

In the aftermath of the 1948 antitrust suit, uncertain times led Warner Bros. in 1956 to sell most of its pre-1950[24][25][26] films and cartoons to Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.). In addition, a.a.p. also obtained the Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios Popeye cartoons, originally from Paramount Pictures. Two years later, a.a.p. was sold to United Artists, which owned the company until 1981, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired United Artists[27][28]

In 1982, during their independent years, Turner Broadcasting System acquired Brut Productions, the film production arm of France-based then-struggling personal-care company Faberge Inc.[29]

In 1986, Turner Broadcasting System acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Finding itself in debt, Turner kept the pre-May 1986 MGM film and television libraries and a small portion of the United Artists library (including the a.a.p. library and North American rights to the RKO Radio Pictures library) while spinning off the rest of MGM.[30]

In 1989, Warner Communications acquired Lorimar-Telepictures Corporation.[31][32] Lorimar's catalogue included the post-1974 library of Rankin/Bass Productions, and the post-1947 library of Monogram Pictures/Allied Artists Pictures Corporation.

In 1991, Turner Broadcasting System acquired animation studio Hanna-Barbera and the Ruby-Spears library from Great American Broadcasting, and years later, Turner Broadcasting System acquired Castle Rock Entertainment on December 22, 1993[33][34] and New Line Cinema on January 28, 1994.[35][36] On October 10, 1996, Time Warner acquired Turner Broadcasting System, thus bringing Warner Bros.' pre-1950 library back home. In addition, Warner Bros. only owns Castle Rock Entertainment's post-1994 library.

In 2008, Time Warner integrated New Line to Warner Bros.

In June 2016, it created the Harry Potter Global Franchise Development Team to oversee its ownership of the Harry Potter franchise worldwide (including the Wizarding World trademark).[37]

Clint Eastwood's relationship with Warner Bros. began in 1975, and he has directed several of the studios best known films, including Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).[38]
Christopher Nolan wrote and directed several of Warner Bros.' most profitable films in the early 21st century. Like Eastwood, Nolan has had a long creative partnership with the studio.[39]

The studio's first live-action film was My Four Years in Germany (1918), their first animated film was Gay Purr-ee (1962). Animated films produced by Warner Bros. Animation, and the Warner Animation Group are also released by Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio has released twenty-five films that have received an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination: Disraeli (1929), I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), 42nd Street (1933), Here Comes the Navy (1934), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four Daughters (1938), Jezebel (1938), Dark Victory (1939), to name a few.

Film series

Title Release date Notes
Gold Diggers 1929–1938
Looney Tunes 1930–present
Penrod and Sam 1931–1938
Torchy Blane 1937–1939
Four Daughters 1938–1941
Nancy Drew 1938–2019
Dirty Harry 1971–1988
Superman 1978–present
Blade Runner 1982–2017
National Lampoon's Vacation 1983–2015
Police Academy 1984–1994
Lethal Weapon 1987–1998
The Lost Boys 1987–2010
Batman 1989–present
Free Willy 1993–2010
The Matrix 1999–present
Deep Blue Sea
Pokémon 1999–2019
Cats & Dogs 2001–present
Wizarding World
Ocean's 2001–2018
Scooby-Doo 2002–present
A Cinderella Story 2004–present
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2005–2008
The Dark Knight trilogy 2005–2012
Happy Feet 2006–2011
The Hangover 2009–2013
Sherlock Holmes 2009–present
Dolphin Tale 2011–2014
The Conjuring Universe 2013–present
DC Extended Universe
The Lego Movie 2014–2019
MonsterVerse 2014–present
It 2017–2019
Dune 2021–present

Highest-grossing films

Highest-grossing films in North America[40]
Rank Title Year Domestic gross
1 The Dark Knight 2008 $533,720,947
2 The Dark Knight Rises 2012 $448,139,099
3 Wonder Woman 2017 $412,563,408
4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 2011 $381,193,157
5 Suicide Squad 2016 $330,126,372
6 Joker 2019 $335,451,311
7 Aquaman 2018 $335,061,807
8 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016 $330,360,194
9 It 2017 $328,828,874
10 American Sniper 2014 $325,100,054
11 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 2001 $317,871,467
12 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 1 2012 $303,003,568
13 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009 $302,089,278
14 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 2010 $296,131,568
15 Inception 2010 $292,576,195
16 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2007 $292,137,260
17 Man of Steel 2013 $291,045,518
18 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005 $290,201,752
19 The Matrix Reloaded 2003 $281,553,689
20 The Hangover 2009 $277,322,503
21 Gravity 2013 $274,092,705
22 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 2002 $262,233,381
23 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 1 2013 $258,241,522
24 The LEGO Movie 2014 $257,784,718
25 I Am Legend 2007 $256,393,010
Highest-grossing films worldwide
Rank Title Year Box office gross
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 2011 $1,342,932,398
2 Aquaman 2018 $1,148,461,807
3 The Dark Knight Rises 2012 $1,084,939,099
4 Joker 2019 $1,074,251,311
5 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 1 2012 $1,021,103,568
6 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 2001 $1,006,260,000
7 The Dark Knight 2008 $1,004,934,033
8 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 2010 $977,431,568
9 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 1 2013 $958,366,855
10 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 1 2014 $956,019,788
11 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 2007 $942,018,451
12 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 2009 $934,546,568
13 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 2005 $897,099,794
14 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 2002 $880,225,135
15 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016 $873,634,919
16 Inception 2010 $836,836,967
17 Wonder Woman 2017 $821,847,012
18 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2016 $814,037,575
19 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 2004 $796,907,323
20 Suicide Squad 2016 $746,846,894
21 The Matrix Reloaded 2003 $742,128,461
22 Gravity 2013 $723,192,705
23 It 2017 $701,800,748
24 Interstellar 2014 $701,502,499
25 Man of Steel 2013 $668,045,518


  1. ^ co-owned by New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (the film's producers)


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  2. ^ a b "2017 Annual Report" (PDF). Time Warner. 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 8, 2018. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
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  24. ^ Schickel & Perry 2008, p. 255
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External links

  • Official website