Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. (abbreviated MGM or M-G-M, also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or simply Metro) is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of feature films and television programs. It is the current parent of United Artists, which became a subsidiary in 1981.
MGM has been known as a competitor of Warner Bros. in live-action films and animated short subjects. Some of their best known subjects are the Tom and Jerry and Droopy cartoon series, The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Point Blank (1967). Today, MGM partners with Warner Bros. to produce and distribute The Hobbit film series.
Purchase by Ted Turner
In 1986, Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System acquired MGM from Kirk Kerkorian, but due to concerns over the debt load of his companies, that same year, Turner was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian after approximately only 74 days of ownership. However, Turner bought most of the copyrights MGM's film and television library made prior to May 1986, which includes MGM cartoons, feature films, and some of the United Artists library, and with this massive amount of media, formed Turner Entertainment. However, some of Warner Bros.' old monogram films remain with MGM due to Turner not buying their copyrights.
Looney Home Video Releases
Cartoon Festivals and Cartoon Moviestars
MGM released Viddy-Oh! For Kids Cartoon Festivals VHS tapes in the early-1980s and Cartoon Moviestars VHS tapes in the mid-1980s. These were new transfers in the 1980s to replace the AAP prints for better quality of the cartoons.
The Cartoon Festivals VHS transfers were the first attempt at restoring the cartoons. Of course, the studio only had the 16mm prints at the time so these restorations were not that great. Some of these cartoon transfers had [[Daffy Doodles#Damaged Print|a static opening card from Farm Frolics]].
The Cartoon Moviestars prints were duplicates of the original Associated Artists Productions prints, although some had various colored borders on opening and ending titles, some minus the AAP title, others with it intact. Because Warner Bros. created duplicate 35mm Eastmancolor prints for AAP, these transfers were in poor condition due to the wearing of the material that was given to AAP by Warner Bros in 1956 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Turner Entertainment had no access to the original negatives, which were being stored at the Warner Bros. vaults.
These VHS tapes had blue borders on the opening and closing Color Rings on the cartoons. These 1980s prints were later obliterated by 1995 Turner dubbed versions, created for their dub tracks overseas. Most of these later transfers had altered ending cards (some didn't, like the ones that have no dialogue) and most of them had better color corrections. They also had various colored borders on their opening titles, green, red, purple, blue, etc.
The Golden Age of Looney Tunes
In 1991, MGM started releasing The Golden Age of Looney Tunes for VHS and LaserDisc. Sales for the VHS proved quite low compared to the LaserDisc, so MGM/Turner stopped producing VHS sets after 10 volumes (the 10 volumes were the same cartoons as Volume 1 on the LaserDisc, with each volume being one side on the LaserDisc).
The first 4 volumes of the LaserDisc release were duplicates of the original Associated Artists Productions prints, although some had various colored borders on opening and ending titles, some minus the AAP title, others with it intact. Again, because Warner Bros. created duplicate 35mm Eastmancolor prints for AAP, the first 4 volumes' transfers were in poor condition due to the wearing of the material that was given to AAP by Warner Bros in 1956 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Turner Entertainment had no access to the original negatives, which were being stored at the Warner Bros. vaults.
The last volume, Volume 5, was released in 1997, featured one-shot or minor character Merrie Melodies cartoons prior to 1942, and was released after Time Warner bought Turner. All of the cartoons on the last volume, except for two, were USA 1995 dubbed prints, derived from Turner restoration attempts back in 1995.
End of Distribution with Warner Bros./Turner
In 1999, MGM paid Time Warner $225 million to end their contract early of distributing of their former material. After their payment to end the contract early, these rights were transferred to Warner Home Video starting in 2000. Warner Bros. began restoring some of their film library to release to a new generation of people starting in 2000, with the first release of restored cartoons derived from their original negatives was the release of I Love Tweety Japanese DVD in 2001.
In 2003, Warner Bros. released their first volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series. These were the restorations from original negatives first available to customers inside the United States after MGM ended their contract in 1999. Six volumes were released before the series ended in 2008. In 2010, Warner Bros. released the Looney Tunes Super Stars DVD series. In 2012, Warner Bros. released the Looney Tunes Platinum Collection DVD/Blu-Ray series.
Some of the Looney Tunes DVDs have bonus features featuring Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer short subjects. The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection DVD set features most of thee MGM cartoons that won or were nominated for Academy Awards. This set was released in 2008.
As of 2020, more than 640 Warner Bros. short subject cartoons are considered remastered and restored today on the market. The remaining 361 have yet to be released on DVD.
- Bates, James. [articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/16/business/fi-17731 MGM Buys Its Way Out of Pact for $225 Million].