Movie, Radio, TV Timeline US

Click here for source document

Major Five Movie Studios in 2023

  1. NBC Universal

    In reaction to Thomas Edison's creation of the Motion Picture Patents Company in New York in 1909, Universal Pictures opened in Hollywood in Los Angeles in 1912, on the other side of the country.
    One of the original "Little Three" major minor studios during the 1930s and 1940s, having about a 7% market share, it never owned more than small theatre circuits during these years.

    In the 1950s and 1960s the company was sold to MCA, then in 1990 Japanese multinational Matsushita, in 1995 Canadian multinational Seagram, in 2000 French company Vivendi, in 2004 General Electric (parent company to NBC-TV) now NBC-Universal, and finally in 2013 Comcast (Xfinity) the largest cable TV and home ISP company in the US.

    In 2022, according to Comcast, Universal Pictures took the No. 2 spot in the US after Disney, giving wide release to 36 movies that earned $1.6 billion domestically, led by “Jurassic World:Dominion” ($376 million) and “Minions:The Rise of Gru” ($369 million).

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

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

    In 2022 Comcast named Paramount number three domestically ($1.3 billion) with “Top Gun:Maverick” proving the biggest hit of the year, taking in $719 million domestically and $1.49 billion worldwide.

  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 Inc becoming Time Warner, and in the process acquired Time's 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 that he had acquired from MGM, see more on MGM below. Also CNN (Cable News Network)—the first 24-hour news channel founded by Ted Turner in 1980.

    In 2018 Time Warner was acquired by AT&T, changing its name briefly to Warner Media before it was sold and merged with TV conglomerate Discovery in April 2022, forming Warner Bros. Discovery.

    In 2022 Comcast named it number four domestically ($934 million) with two superhero epics “The Batman” ($369 million) and “Black Adam” ($168 million).

  4. Walt Disney Pictures had 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 2022 with Marvel Studios’ major releases 1.Black Panther:Wakanda Forever ($426 million), 2.Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($411 million), and 3.Thor:Love and Thunder ($343 million), Comcast named Disney as having the top spot, with $1.84 billion domestically through Christmas.

  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.

    In 2022 Comcast named it number five domestically ($854 million) with just one movie in the domestic top 10, "Spider-Man:No Way Home" ($241 million).

Past Major Studios

RKO Radio Pictures (RKO) (1928–1959) owned originally by RCA was one of the Big Five studios. It was bought by Howard Hughes in 1948, but mismanaged and dismantled, and 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) and probably at the top of the Big Five studios in the 1930s and 1940s. Sold to Kirk Kerkorian in 1969. It was acquired by Ted Turner (Turner Broadcasting System) in 1986 who retained MGM's pre-May 1986 library (later onsold to Warners) and sold back the studio to Kirk the same year. It was sold to Sony in 2005 becoming a mini-major studio. Emerged twice from bankruptcy after 2010 and since March 2022 owned by Amazon.

** End of page

Go back to top