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Turner Entertainment Company, Inc. is an American multimedia company founded by Ted Turner. Purchased by Time Warner in 1996, along with Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), the company was largely responsible for overseeing the TBS library for worldwide distribution. In recent years, this role has largely been limited to being the copyright holder, as it has become an in-name-only subsidiary[1] of Warner Bros., which administers their library.[2]


On March 25, 1986, Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting System purchased Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from Kirk Kerkorian for $600 million, and renamed it MGM Entertainment Company, Inc. However, due to concerns in the financial community over the debt-load of his companies, on August 26, 1986, he was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian for approximately $300 million.[3] However, Turner kept MGM's film, television and cartoon library as well as a small portion of the United Artists library, forming Turner Entertainment Company, Inc.[4][5] The library also included the pre-1950 Warner Bros. titles, the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons originally released by Paramount Pictures, the US/Canadian/Latin American/Australian distribution rights to the RKO Radio Pictures library, and most of the Gilligan's Island television franchise (not counting TV movie sequels now owned by other companies).[6] In December 1987, Turner acquired the worldwide rights through license, to 800 RKO films from its then-parent company Wesray Capital Corporation.[7]

On October 3, 1988, Turner Broadcasting launched the TNT network, and later Turner Classic Movies to use their former MGM/UA library. In doing so, Turner has played a major part in film preservation and restoration. By broadcasting such classic films as The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Singin' in the Rain, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, King Kong, Easter Parade and the original The Jazz Singer, on numerous Turner affiliated cable channels, as well as in showing them in revival movie houses and home video around the world, Turner introduces a new generation to these films and makes sure these films are not forgotten.

On November 29, 1989, Turner made another attempt to buy MGM/UA, but the deal failed, and Turner formed Turner Pictures and Turner Pictures Worldwide instead.[8]

In 1991, Turner purchased Hanna-Barbera Productions and most of the pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library from Great American Broadcasting.[9] Shortly after Turner Broadcasting launched Cartoon Network, and later Boomerang, to use its vast animation library.

In 1993, Turner purchased Castle Rock Entertainment and New Line Cinema.[10][11][12]

Turner Entertainment self-distributed much of its library for the first decade of its existence, but on October 10, 1996, Turner Broadcasting was purchased by Time Warner and its distribution functions were largely absorbed into Warner Bros. and as a result, Turner is now an in-name-only subsidiary of Warner, serving merely as a copyright holder for a portion of their library. Hanna-Barbera's current purpose as the in-name only unit of Warner Bros. Animation is to serve as the copyright holder for its creations such as The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear while Warner Bros. handle sales and merchandising.

Production company

Turner Entertainment, as a production company, also creates original in-house programming, such as documentaries about the films it owns, new animated material based on Tom & Jerry and other related cartoon properties, and once produced made-for-TV movies, miniseries, and theatrical films such as Gettysburg, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, Fallen, The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance under the Turner Pictures banner. Turner also had an international distribution sales unit, Turner Pictures Worldwide Distribution. Turner Pictures folded into Warner Bros. after the Turner-Time Warner merger, and currently holds the distribution rights to the films made by the production division.

The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance were produced under Turner Feature Animation, Turner's animation unit headed by David Kirschner and Paul Gertz.[13] Spun off from the feature division of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Turner Feature Animation was folded into Warner Bros. Feature Animation, which was then merged into Warner Bros. Animation.

Turner also had a television unit called Turner Program Services which had run until 1996 when it was rebranded as Telepictures Distribution which distributed Mama's Family and all TPS shows after 1996. In 2003, Telepictures Distribution was folded into Warner Bros. Television Distribution which meant Telepictures took over all series that were first run and distributed by TD.

Home video

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In the first decade of its existence, Turner released most of its own catalogue on home video through Turner Home Entertainment (THE). However, the MGM and Warner film libraries which Turner owned were still distributed by MGM/UA Home Video along with THE until their rights expired in 1999, while THE handled the home video distribution of titles from the RKO library. THE released films produced by Turner Pictures on home video with their distributors and independently released the Hanna-Barbera cartoon library on home video.

THE also released World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view events, wrestler profiles, and "Best Of" packages on video until the demise of WCW in 2001; the WCW video library, along with the rights to the WCW name and certain talent contracts, were sold to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as WWE) in March 2001.[14][15][16]

From early 1995 to early 1997, THE also distributed home video releases from New Line Home Video, taking over from Columbia TriStar Home Video as well as PBS programs (taking over from the defunct Pacific Arts). NLHE distributed New Line films on video by itself from 1997 until the Warner Bros. New Line Cinema merger in 2008.[17][18][19] PBS shows are now distributed on video and DVD by PBS's own distribution company, PBS Distribution.

In 1995, THE entered a distribution deal with Columbia TriStar Home Video in France, Britain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland,[20] the deal expired in 1997 (although some films released on VHS by THE are distributed in the UK by First Independent Films).

Upon the Turner-Time Warner merger, THE was absorbed into Warner Home Video as an in-name-only unit in December 1996.[21] However, Turner Classic Movies does release special edition DVD boxsets of films from both the Turner and Warner catalogs under the TCM label. (Some magazines most notably Starlog when listing upcoming releases from Warner related to Cartoon Network programming listed it as being released by THE, likely to differentiate it from other, adult-oriented titles.)[22]


Turner Entertainment's current library includes: Nearly all of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film, television and cartoon library released prior to May 23, 1986[2][5]


  1. The latest released Warner Bros. cartoon sold to a.a.p. was Haredevil Hare, which was released on July 24, 1948.


  1. Time Warner 2018 10-K filing, Exhibit 21 (List of subsidiaries). Securities and Exchange Commission.
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  6. "Turner Plans New Channels." Associated Press (June 5, 1993).
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  25. You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008)
  26. 1957 MOVIES FROM AAP Warner Bros Features & Cartoons SALES BOOK DIRECTED AT TV
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  28. LoBrutto, Vincent (2018). TV in the USA: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. 3. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-4408-4847-6. 
  29. Tom Kenny, Jerry Beck, Frank Caruso, Glenn Mitchell, et al. (2007). Popeye the Sailor: 1933–1938, Volume 1. Special Features: I Yam What I Yam: The Story of Popeye the Sailor (DVD). Warner Home Video.

External links

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