Studio History Tour


The Jazz Singer, 1927
Considered a cinematic landmark, The Jazz Singer was the first feature-length Hollywood “talkie” film. Warner Bros.’ production head Darryl F. Zanuck was presented with a special Oscar at the very first Academy Awards ceremony in May of 1929, for producing The Jazz Singer; the film had nominations in two other categories for Best Writing Adaptation and Best Engineering Effects.
The Warner Bros. Lot
Physical production facilities on the historic 110-acre lot include 29 soundprods (including one of the tallest in the world that also has an in-ground tank with a two million gallon capacity), plus a 20 acre backlot that can double as almost anywhere, be it a jungle in the rainforest, Mainstreet USA or a bustling metropolitan city.
The Public Enemy, 1931
Because of the famous grapefruit scene, for years afterward when dining in restaurants, fellow patrons would send grapefruits to actor James Cagney, which – almost invariably – James Cagney would happily eat.
Stage 16
One of the tallest prods in the world, Stage 16 was raised foot by foot in 1935 to its current height of 98 feet for a Marion Davies/Clark Gable film titled Cain and Mabel. Since that time, Stage 16 has been the home of memorable scenes, the features My Fair Lady, Camelot, The Music Man, The Old Man and The Sea, The Great Race, PT 109, Key Largo, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, the Batman trilogy and The Perfect Storm, to name just a few.
Busby Berkely
Busby Berkely was bringing his spectacular musical extravaganza to America’s movie theaters from Warner soundprods. By the late 1930’s, business was booming, and the Warner Bros. Studios had constructed nine new soundprods, all of which are still in use today.
Robin Hood, 1938
James Cagney was the original actor slated for the title role, but he quit Warner Brothers, and the production was postponed for three years. Of other note, the Golden Palomino that Olivia de Havilland rides in this film is Trigger, shortly before he became the mount of Roy Rogers.
Casablanca, 1942
Casablanca won 3 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Studio publicity in 1941 claimed that Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan were scheduled to appear in this film, and Dennis Morgan is mentioned as the third lead. However, this was never the case, and the false story was planted, either by a studio publicists or a press agent for the three other actors, to keep their names in the press.
Warner Bros. Studio Facilities
Warner Bros. Studio Facilities maintains one of the largest collections of period and contemporary costumes in the industry – providing everything from feather boas to punk inspired wigs for feature films, television, commercials and special events.
In the 1960’s, Warner Bros. met the changing demands of “New Hollywood” by producing a forward-looking series of social dramas which reflected the tumultuous times in which they were produced. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) tested censorship restrictions; Days of Wine and Roses (1962) addressed alcoholism. The Green Berets (1968) was the first fictional film made about the conflict in Vietnam. Crime and punishment, always successful subjects at the studio, were reflected by Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).
Comedies & Musicals
Yet through it all, Warner Bros. never forgot to laugh. The Great Race (1965) evoked an earlier era of slapstick comedy, and the Oscar-studded musicals My Fair Lady (1964) and The Music Man (1962) proved that the studio, which taught the movies how to sing, still knew how to carry a tune. Another musical, Camelot (1967) was important for a more personal reason – as studio head Jack L. Warner’s last picture for the company after a historic 50 year reign.
The 70’s and 80’s marked the opening volley in an explosion of television production at the studio. TV had been an important component in the Warner Bros. success story since 1955. Yet in the 1970’s, increasing demand for programming would lead to the company becoming the largest supplier of television in the world. Alice (1976-85) was the first regular program shot at the studio in front of a live audience.
Beloved Characters
Warner Bros.’ extensive Looney Tunes library and products based on sister company DC Comic’s most iconic characters, have carried the studio triumphantly into the 21st century.
Today, Warner Bros. Entertainment is a fully integrated, broad-based entertainment company – a global leader in the creation, production, distribution, licensing and marketing of all forms of creative content and their related businesses, across all current and emerging media and platforms. The company stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, TV and home entertainment production and worldwide distribution to DVD, digital distribution, animation, comic books, licensing, international cinemas and broadcasting.