Associated Artists Productions: Wikis

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Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.)
Former type Private
Fate Absorbed by United Artists
Successor United Artists
(More info below)
Founder(s) Elliott Hyman
Defunct 1958
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Industry Television syndication
Products Acquired many feature-length and short subject films for TV distribution, notably:
The pre-1950 WB library
Paramount Popeye cartoons
Divisions United Telefilms Limited
Dominant Pictures Corporation
Website warnerbros.com (web page of current library owner)

Associated Artists Productions (a.a.p.) was a distributor of theatrical feature films and short subjects for television. It existed from 1953 to 1958. It was later absorbed into United Artists, and now Warner Bros.' television unit.

Contents

History

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Formative years

a.a.p. was founded in 1953 and headed by Elliott Hyman.

In 1956, a.a.p. purchased the pre-1950[1] Warner Bros. film library which included every feature film and most short subjects the studio released prior to 1950.[1]

Among the material a.a.p. bought from WB:

Former Warner cartoon director Bob Clampett was hired to catalog the Warner cartoon library.[3]

Also in 1956, a.a.p. bought the pre-1950 library from Walt Disney (except for his feature-length animated films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Fantasia), as well as the black and white Popeye theatrical cartoons from Paramount Pictures through Popeye owner King Features which were produced by the Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios. The following year, a.a.p. also acquired the color Popeye cartoons.

Preparing the prints

WB

On the WB productions, a.a.p. simply inserted their logo at the head of each reel (on feature films, the logo featured an atom spelling out the company's initials set to a bongo piece,[4] while at the beginning of cartoons, the logo featured the initials in the center, between the full name of the company, with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd above or below the company name).[5]

Popeye

On the Popeye cartoons, a.a.p. was told by Paramount to remove any references to the studio (since at the time, Paramount did not want to be associated with television). As such, the a.a.p. logo would plaster over the Paramount logos,[6] while leaving in the copyrights on the actual title cards (on the color cartoons, a.a.p. created a new card to show that Popeye was a Famous Studios production while on the black-and-white cartoons, a.a.p. retained the title cards not bearing the Paramount name and made new cards which credited either Max Fleischer or Famous Studios replacing the title cards which bore "Paramount presents...").

However, a.a.p. did slip on a few occasions, where part of the Paramount opening could still be seen for a few seconds, such as on Private Eye Popeye[7] and Cooking with Gags[8] (both of which the copyrights lapsed in the U.S.). The color cartoons had the same opening and closing music, so, on each cartoon, the music would make an abrupt jump; on some cartoons, the original opening (and closing) music was different (the music used on the opening logo was actually the 1943-48 version of the Popeye theme, while the closing theme was lifted from Olive Oyl for President). A peculiarity resulted from the use of the color opening on the Popeye Color Specials, which at the beginning were said to be produced by Famous Studios, but were actually produced by Fleischer. Similarly, a.a.p. credited the first two Famous Studios cartoons to Max Fleischer, though again, these were Famous Studios productions (however, the theatrical releases did not bear the Famous name, since the studio did not have the name yet).

In addition, the last several Popeye cartoons released never bore a.a.p. logos due to having been released after the sale.

Later years

Ownership of properties

The company was acquired by United Artists in 1958 and absorbed into United Artists Television (UATV), although the distribution arm was first called United Artists Associated (but would be renamed United Artists Television Distribution in 1968). In 1981, the library was incorporated into the merger of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists.

The rights to Rope, years after reversion to Alfred Hitchcock (and later his estate), were sold to Universal Pictures, although UA continues to hold the film's copyright.

Turner Entertainment took over the library in 1986 after Ted Turner's short-lived acquisition of MGM/UA. When Turner sold back the MGM/UA production unit, he kept the a.a.p. library for his own company.

The WB film libraries were reunited when the studio's parent company Time Warner bought Turner in 1996. Warner Bros. holds the a.a.p. properties today, although technically they are under the ownership of Turner, with WB handling distribution. However, Moby Dick would be the only film in the a.a.p./UATV package that would be retained by United Artists, and thus UA (via sister company MGM) continues to own this film today. It is not known why this is the case, perhaps Turner did not notice that film when he kept the a.a.p. package.

The actual successor companies

Although the corporate successor to a.a.p. is MGM, WB is generally accepted as the general successor today as it is the owner of most of the a.a.p. library. Furthermore, as a.a.p. was originally a television syndication company, the company's primary functions would be assumed by the television divisions of each of the library's owners over the years (UA, MGM, Turner, and now WB). This is evident when looking at copyright renewal registrations at the Library of Congress: The copyrights to many of the a.a.p.-owned films were renewed by UA's TV division.

Recent television screenings and video releases

In recent years, many of the shorts in question have now excluded the a.a.p. logo in order to bring them closer to what they looked like when they were originally released (however, Cartoon Network still kept the logo on a few cartoons that aired from time to time, it appeared on two shorts that were part of their New Years Day 2009 Looney Tunes marathon: Daffy Duck in Hollywood and Nasty Quacks. On the New Years Day 2010 marathon, it was shown on the short The Great Piggy Bank Robbery; it, like the other two cartoons, starred Daffy Duck. Later on in the marathon, it was seen on the Bugs Bunny cartoon The Hare-Brained Hypnotist).

When most of the WB cartoons in the package were released on laserdisc as part of the series The Golden Age of Looney Tunes, Turner and MGM had to resort to faded 16 mm television prints since neither a.a.p. nor its successor companies had any access to the original negatives of the films and short-subjects acquired from WB. Some of the cartoons came with a.a.p. logos intact. These same prints in fact permeated all releases from Turner/MGM.

For the DVD release by Warner on July 31, 2007 of the first set of Popeye cartoons (1933-1938), they were restored to include the original Paramount logos.[1] However in the second volume, Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940, Volume 2, two of the cartoons in the initial batch of discs bear a.a.p.-created Popeye title cards by mistake.[2]

123 of the Warner Bros. cartoons purchased by a.a.p. have also been restored to pristine condition (from the original negatives) on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD sets, including restoration of original titles to a handful of cartoons reissued as Blue Ribbons.

Public domain

Some of the films and short subjects bought by a.a.p. fell into the public domain, and are available on various low-budget video releases (although the owners of original film elements would give some of this material official releases as well). These include (but are not limited to):

  • A handful of Popeye cartoons
    • The Color Specials
    • 6 B&W Fleischer cartoons
    • The Famous B&W cartoon Me Musical Nephews
    • Several ranges (by release date) of 1950's Famous cartoons
      • Only two cartoons during 1952
      • Only one cartoon during 1953 and 1955
      • All cartoons during 1954, 1956 (except Hillbilling and Cooing), and 1957
  • 61 WB cartoons
    • All Merrie Melodies from Smile, Darn Ya, Smile! through The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives
    • 40 color cartoons released between 1936-44
    • 2 cartoons from 1947
  • Several WB features, such as Santa Fe Trail and Life with Father

Colorization controversy

Turner has also had controversy over colorizing many of the black-and-white films he owned, including former a.a.p. properties. Live-action films were colorized via computer. Among the notable films from the a.a.p. package that were colorized were Casablanca and 42nd Street.

The cartoons were a different story. In 1988, the B&W Popeye cartoons were sent to South Korea and Taiwan, and redrawn frame-by-frame in color. Four years later, the Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies were done in the same fashion. WB had done this years before with some of the B&W Looney Tunes. However, by redrawing the cartoons, a lot of quality was lost in the process.

Censored Eleven

11 a.a.p.-owned cartoons were pulled from circulation by UA in 1968, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. These cartoons were "banned" because they featured African American stereotypes that permeated the cartoons so much that UA felt no amount of selective editing would ever make these cartoons acceptable for distribution.

The cartoons on the list were:

  1. Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land
  2. Sunday Go to Meetin' Time
  3. Clean Pastures
  4. Uncle Tom's Bungalow
  5. Jungle Jitters
  6. The Isle of Pingo Pongo
  7. All This and Rabbit Stew
  8. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs
  9. Tin Pan Alley Cats
  10. Angel Puss
  11. Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears

The "ban" would be upheld even by the later owners of the a.a.p. library, including MGM, Turner, and now WB. However, the cartoons are available online and on many unauthorized collections of mainly-public domain cartoons on VHS and DVD (which have occasionally featured cartoons still under copyright). However, only three of the cartoons are in the public domain at this time.

Subsidiaries

United Telefilms Limited

United Telefilms Limited was the Canadian division of a.a.p., which existed around the same time. Live action films used a variation of the main a.a.p. logo, but the initials "UTL" would be spelled out, and a notice at the bottom said "Distributed in Canada by United Telefilms Limited".

Dominant Pictures Corporation

Dominant Pictures Corporation was a subsidiary of a.a.p. which distributed the features that the company purchased to theaters. It re-released a number of films from the pre-1950[1] WB library, as well as a number of British films which a.a.p. bought the rights to.

The subsidiary was later dissolved into UA's main theatrical distribution arm after the company was sold to UA.

Popeye cartoons sold to a.a.p.

231 Popeye the Sailor cartoons were produced for theatrical release by Paramount Pictures between 1933 and 1957.

List of Warner Bros. Cartoons sold to a.a.p.

Note: All cartoons listed under 1931-41 are Merrie Melodies. Titles in boldface are available on DVD as part of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection.
Note: All cartoons listed under 1931 and 1932 are in the public domain. In all other years, PD cartoons are marked with an asterisk.

1931

1932

  • Crosby, Columbo and Vallee
  • Freddy the Freshman
  • Goopy Geer
  • A Great Big Bunch of You
  • I Love a Parade
  • I Wish I Had Wings
  • It's Got Me Again
  • Moonlight for Two
  • Pagan Moon
  • The Queen Was in the Parlor
  • Three's a Crowd
  • You're Too Careless with Your Kisses!

1933

1934

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Honeymoon Hotel
  • Pop Goes Your Heart
  • Those Beautiful Dames

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940

1941

1942

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

1943

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

1944

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

1945

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

1946

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

1947

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

1948

Looney Tunes

Merrie Melodies

Notes


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