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Associated Artists Productions (also known as a.a.p.) was a company that purchased the copyrights to the pre-1950 Warner Bros. catalog plus the pre-July 1948 and pre-August 1948 color Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies library plus all the B&W Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies (except Lady, Play Your Mandolin!) from Warner Bros. Associated Artists Productions also purchased copyrights to the black-and-white Popeye cartoons in 1956 from Paramount Pictures and the color Popeye cartoons in 1957 (including the 1957 Popeye shorts).
Associated Artists was founded in 1948 by Eliot Hyman. It handled syndication of 500 films, including the Republic Pictures and Robert Lippert libraries, but soon both companies entered television distribution. It also served for Monogram Pictures (their 1936-1946 film library was purchased by a.a.p. in 1954) and Producers Releasing Corporation.
In 1951, Hyman sold the company to David Baird's Lansing Foundation then to a newly started Motion Pictures for Television, where Hyman served as a consultant. Hyman also became a partner in Mouline Production, production company on the 1956 film Moby Dick, while financing and producing other films and TV projects.
The company was renamed Associated Artists Productions in 1954.
Associated Artists Productions
In July 1954, Hyman launched another TV distribution company which used the Associated Artists name, Associated Artists Productions, with his purchasing the syndication rights to the Universal Studios Sherlock Holmes series from MPTV. His son Ken served as vice-president. Associated also acquired distribution right to Johnny Jupiter, Candid Camera], 13 Artcinema Associates feature films, 37 Western films and 3 serials.
In 1956, the company was refinanced and its name changed to Associated Artists Productions Corp. (a.a.p.). Lou Chelser's PRM, Inc. closed the purchase of the entire pre-1950 library's copyrights owned by Warner Bros. Pictures in June 1956 for $21 million with a.a.p. and its theatrical subsidiary Dominant Pictures handling distribution sales.
a.a.p. also purchased copyrights to the black-and-white Popeye cartoons from Paramount Pictures in June 1956. The color cartoons' copyrights were purchased in 1957 (including the 1957 Popeye shorts).
By December 1957, control of a.a.p. had gone to New York Supreme Court between the parties of a.a.p., National Telefilm Associates, and Harris minority shareholder group.
United Artists Associated
The company filed for bankruptcy and was shut down again, this time, for good. Soonafter, it was purchased by United Artists (UA) in 1958 with UA borrowing the full amount $27 million from Manufacturers's Trust when a.a.p. shareholders needed cash quickly. The a.a.p. purchased did come with uncollected accounts receivable amount around the purchase price. The resulting division was named United Artists Associated, Inc. (u.a.a.). u.a.a. made a deal to distribute Beany and Cecil internationally. With the twin kids syndicated packages of Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies and Popeye, u.a.a. took a look at a number of shorts in the a.a.p./pre-1950 WB library that appealed to kids and packaged them in a third group as The Big Mac Show with a cartoon wrap around.
The cartoon library included every color Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies short released prior to August 1, 1948, and all of the Merrie Melodies produced by Harman-Ising Pictures from 1931 to 1933, except "Lady, Play Your Mandolin!" (1931). The remaining black-and-white Merrie Melodies made from 1933 to 1934 and the black-and-white Looney Tunes were already sold to Sunset Productions. Former Warner cartoon director Bob Clampett was hired to catalog the Warner cartoon library. This purchase and the Popeye cartoons gave a.a.p. a library of over 568 theatrical cartoon shorts, which would be staples of children's television for many years.
Unlike WB's sales of the B&W Looney Tunes cartoon library (excluding the Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies) to Sunset Productions, a.a.p. was allowed to keep the WB references intact where they just insert the a.a.p. logo before each cartoon (resulting Merrie Melodies cartoons to have the Merrie Melodies opening music playing twice, while Looney Tunes cartoons have both the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes opening music). Despite this, a.a.p. hacked off the original openings of three cartoons from the pre-1948 Looney Tunes library upon purchase: "Pop Goes Your Heart", "Bars and Stripes Forever" and "The Bear's Tale" (although these three cartoons got their original openings restored in the Turner "dubbed versions" in 1995, but have their original ending cards hacked off by Turner in return).
In 1969, the United Artists Corporation presented to the Library of Congress the earliest surviving preprint material from the pre-1950 film library of Warner Bros. (including First National library). The collection contains 200 silent features (1918–29), 800 sound features (1926–50), 1,800 sound shorts (1926–48), and 337 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts (1931–48). While consisting largely of Warner Bros. releases, the collection includes nearly two hundred sound features released by Monogram Pictures Corporation between 1936 and 1946 and 231 Popeye cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios released between 1933 and 1957. Most motion pictures exist in the original black-and-white/Technicolor camera negatives. The early synchronized sound Vitaphone shorts are lacking accompanying sound disc.
This is an enormous collection of nitrate negatives and masters, which are still undergoing transfer to acetate stock. Most of the safety film copies exist only in the preservation master stage, limiting accessibility for viewing and duplication. Some years ago, LC obtained 16mm prints (unfortunately, many are television prints, flat in picture quality and occasionally edited) for pre-1950 Warner Bros. features (among the most popular of all American films). Additional prints have been added to the collection, ranging from "reject fine grain master positives" (copies made for preservation but deemed inadequate) suitable for reference use, to sparkling 35mm prints reserved for theatrical projection.
Ownership of Properties
In recent years, a.a.p. prints of some of the cartoons the company acquired have turned up on Cartoon Network and Boomerang, with most of them airing on the Latin American version of these channels. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased United Artists (along with the a.a.p. library) from Transamerica Corporation in 1981 and became MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Turner Broadcasting System (via 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 MGM library, including select portions of the a.a.p. library (limited to the Warner Bros. films and the Popeye cartoons), for his own company, then sold the MGM company back without almost any film library. The 1936-1946 Warner Bros. Monogram films were not included with the purchase, and thus some of these films remain with MGM.
The Warner Bros. film libraries were reunited when Time Warner, the studio's parent company since the 1990 merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications (formerly Kinney National Company), bought Turner in 1996. Between 1996 and 2019, Turner retained the copyrights to the former a.a.p. properties, while Warner handled their distribution. Since March 4, 2019, with the closure of Turner Broadcasting System, Warner Bros. owns the copyrights to the former a.a.p. properties and the distribution rights.
UA originally leased video rights to their library (including the a.a.p. library) to Magnetic Video, the first home video company. Magnetic Video was sold to 20th Century Fox in 1982, becoming 20th Century-Fox Video. In 1982, Fox and CBS formed CBS/Fox Video, which continued to distribute the UA/a.a.p. library under license from MGM/UA Home Video until the rights reverted to MGM/UA. After Turner's purchase of the MGM/UA library, MGM/UA Home Video continued to distribute the films on video under license until 1999, when the rights were transferred to Warner Home Video.
- a.a.p. Records, Inc. was a music arm of a.a.p., which distributed the Official Popeye TV Album.
- 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".
- United Telefilm Records was a music label of United Telefilms.
- UT Records was a subsidiary of United Telefilm Records.
- Tel Records was another subsidiary of United Telefilm Records.
- Warwick Records was also a subsidiary of United Telefilm Records.
- United Telefilm Records was a music label of United Telefilms.
- 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 WB library, as well as a number of British films which a.a.p. bought the rights to. Dominant also sold and/or leased 16mm prints of WB library titles to non-theatrical rental libraries. The subsidiary was later folded into UA's main theatrical distribution arm after the company was sold to UA.
- The original a.a.p. logo had a blue background and yellow text. Due to the process of fading due to Eastmancolor print deterioration, the logo featured on 16mm Eastmancolor televised prints later turned completely pink. Some Associated Artists Productions prints, however, remained completely blue version, as seen on pre-1995 prints of "Daffy Duck & Egghead". Some VHS tapes also have the a.a.p. logos in colored borders like the Viddy-Oh! For Kids Cartoon Festivals VHS sets.
- Because of the limited color palette used in the a.a.p. logo both Bugs and Daffy are miscolored in the a.a.p. logo; Bugs is miscolored white while Daffy's feathers and beak are miscolored red and white respectively.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Hyman Returns to Distrib Business, Reactivates Associated Artist Org", Billboard, August 28, 1954, pp. 6. Retrieved on January 5, 2016.
- ↑ United Artists: Part 2
- ↑ "Warner Bros. Features Sale Gets Capital Gains Sanction", Broadcasting * Telecasting, June 11, 1956. Retrieved on January 5, 2016.
- ↑ "AAP Buys "Popeye" Films for Tv Station Release", Broadcasting Telecasting, Broadcasting Publications, Inc., June 11, 1956. Retrieved on January 5, 2016.
- ↑ "AAP Control Flight Put Off", Billboard, December 16, 1957, p. 7. Retrieved on January 6, 2016.
- ↑ (1987) United Artists The Company That Built the Film Industry. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-11440-4. Retrieved on January 5, 2016.
- ↑ "When A.A.P. became U.A.A.", Cartoon Research, February 16, 2013. Retrieved on January 5, 2016.