Figured it would be nice to know. Summarised mostly from Wikipedia and Film History: an Introduction by Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell. Feel free to add whatever you like:|
Warner Bros, a subsidiary of Time Warner, started out in the 1900s and grew in the film industry as part of the Hollywood studio system's Big 5 in the 1930s(Paramount, Loew MGM, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and the now defunct RKO). Like most studios, the Great Depression hit Warner Bros hard forcing it to recycle plots and use cheaper resources.
Warner Bros was the first studio to succesfully invest in sound films ('talkies'. Western Electric, a subsidiary of AT&T, invented the sound-on-disc system in the 1920s and in a lucrative deal with Warner Bros were able to make it the dominant format in Hollywood sound films. The first 'talkie' to be released was Warner Bros The Jazz Singer and proved to be an enormous success, securing Warner Bros' position as a major studio.
The invention of technicolor and the growing succes of Walt Disney (then still distributed by RKO, these days by their own distribution company; Buena Vista) prompted Warner Bros to create their own iconic cartoons in the 1930s, and thus the Looney Tunes were born. What set apart WB's cartoons was the constant self-conscious referencing to the film industry and the fact that they were cartoons (a feature that made a popular comeback with the Animaniacs), During the war the company remained succesful with films like Casablanca and Mission to Moscow.
In the famous United States versus Paramount case (1938-1948 ) Warner Bros, along with the other major studios, were sued for their monopoly in the vertical distribution of films and as a result had to give up their cinema franchises. With growing competition from television Warner Bros had to resort to new methods. After a brief stint with 3D-films (one which mercilessly failed, but did produce the cult classic House of Wax) Warner Bros (and most of the big studios) decided to use Universal's Cinemascope, the new widescreen format.
The Warner Bros cartoon unit became even more bizarrely inventive than it had been during the war. Parodying every genre from film noir to opera, the cartoons became insanely popular.
In 1954 Warner Bros was succesful in starting its own television channel: Warner Bros Television. In 1958 the Warner Bros record label was founded.
During the social upheaval of the 1960s Warner Bros, like most studios, struggled for profits. Until 1967, with the dawn of the New Hollywood scene, when Warner Bros released the controversial Bonny & Clyde, proving to be a major succes among the new babyboom audience.
After the emergence of New New Hollywood, Warner Bros continued to expand buying stock in Atari Inc. and becoming the owner of DC Comics. Warner Bros became highly succesful in the 1990s with its variety of different TV shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Batman The Animated Series and Dawson's Creek. It's latest successes include the Harry Potter series and the Batman Reboot (with the insanely succesful The Dark Knight).
If you see any errors or feel like I left anything out just send a message and I'll edit the thing. Sources are mentioned above.
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