Turner Entertainment Company, Inc. (commonly known as Turner Entertainment Co.) was a media company founded by Ted Turner. The company was largely responsible for overseeing its library for worldwide distribution. Today, Turner Entertainment is owned by company AT&T. Turner Entertainment formerly was the copyright holder for the pre-1948 cartoons outside of either Disney or Universal. Parent company Turner Broadcasting System went defunct in 2019, with sister company Warner Bros., assuming Turner Entertainment subsidiary's assets, including the copyrights to the pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.


On 25 March 1986, Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting System purchased MGM 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, and on 26 August 1986, he was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian for approximately $300 million.[1] However, Turner kept MGM's film, television and cartoon library as well as a proportion of United Artists library, forming Turner Entertainment Company, Inc.[2][3] 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 Gilligan's Island and its animated spin-offs.[4] In December 1987, Turner acquired the worldwide rights through license, to 800 RKO films from its then-parent company Wesray Capital.[5]

On October 3, 1988, Turner Broadcasting launched the TNT network, and later Turner Classic Movies to use their former MGM/UA library.

In 1991, Turner purchased Hanna-Barbera Productions and most of the pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library from Great American Broadcasting.[6]

In 1992, Turner Broadcasting launched Cartoon Network to make use of its vast animation library.

Turner Entertainment self-distributed much of its library for the first decade of its existence, but on 10 October 1996, Turner Broadcasting was purchased by Time Warner and its distribution functions were largely absorbed into Warner Bros. and as a result, Turner now largely serves merely as a copyright holder for a portion of the Warner Bros. 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 Time Warner's divisions handle sales and merchandising.

On April 1, 2000, Turner launched Boomerang, a spinoff of Cartoon Network.

Home video

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 cartoons on home video. Upon the Turner-Time Warner in 1996 merger, THE was absorbed into Warner Home Video as an in-name-only unit in December 1996. However, Turner Classic Movies does release special edition DVD boxsets of films from both the Turner and Warner catalogs under the TCM label.


Turner Entertainment's current library includes:

  • Nearly all of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film, television and cartoon library released prior to May 23, 1986 ending with the film Killer Party released on May 9, 1986. This includes The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Singin' in the Rain, Ben-Hur, Doctor Zhivago, A Christmas Story and Tom and Jerry, amongst others.[7]
    • Post-1915 films from MGM's predecessors (Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and Mayer Pictures) that did not enter the public domain, such as Wild Oranges.
    • Pre-1939 editions of The Wizard of Oz, such as the 1910 and 1925 silent film versions and the 1933 animated short film of the same name, also The Patchwork Girl of Oz, The Magic Cloak of Oz, and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, as well as the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the 1951 version of Show Boat.
  • Some material inherited from United Artists
    • The US, Canadian and Region 4 distribution rights to a majority of the in-house library of RKO Radio Pictures; including the original 1933 King Kong, Bringing Up Baby and Citizen Kane.[8][9]
    • The former Associated Artists Productions catalogue.
      • One Romantic Night and The Prisoner of Zenda.
      • The pre-1950 Warner Bros. library.[10]
        • Pre-January 1950 Warner Bros. feature films such as the original 1927 The Jazz Singer, also The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Now, Voyager and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
        • Pre-1936 First National Pictures library.
        • Post-1918 WB silent films that did not enter the public domain, such as Lady Windermere's Fan, Lucretia Lombard and Beau Brummel.
        • Pre-September 1948 Warner Bros. live-action short films, such as Joe McDoakes Comedies, Vitaphone Varieties, and the Vitaphone shorts series of Ripley's Believe It or Not!. This did not include the 1936-1946 Monogram Pictures films and thus these still remain with MGM.
        • Pre-August 1948 color Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.
        • Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising's Merrie Melodies (except Lady, Play Your Mandolin!)
      • All of the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye the Sailor cartoons, originally released by Paramount Pictures between 1933-1957.[11]
      • The 1975 documentary film, Bugs Bunny: Superstar (Which contains 9 cartoons from a.a.p./Turner's pre-August 1948 color Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies catalog)
    • Gilligan's Island and its animated spin-offs (The New Adventures of Gilligan and Gilligan's Planet).
  • Almost all of the Hanna-Barbera Productions library, including Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs and some episodes of What a Cartoon!, with Hanna-Barbera holding the copyright.[12]
    • Almost all of the pre-1991 Ruby-Spears Productions library, such as Heathcliff and Marmaduke, Dragon's Lair, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Plastic Man-Baby Plas Super Comedy Show and Mister T.
    • Two Popeye the Sailor animated TV shows (The All-New Popeye Hour and Popeye and Son), in co-license with King Features Syndicate/Hearst Entertainment.
    • Man from Atlantis telemovies and TV series, produced by Solow Production Company.
  • Castle Rock Entertainment and the distribution rights to its Post-1994 library.[13][14]
  • Most of the non-Cartoon Network backlog of Hanna-Barbera Productions.
  • Ralph Bakshi's The Butter Battle Book.
  • The Brut Productions library.
  • The 1995 television special, Dr. Seuss' Daisy-Head Mayzie, produced by Hanna-Barbera for TNT.
  • Original in-house programming, such as documentaries about the films it owns, animated series, TV specials, made-for-TV movies, miniseries and theatrical films.
  • The Turner Pictures library, including Gettysburg, Tom and Jerry: The Movie and In Search of Dr. Seuss, also the TV and International rights to The Pagemaster.


  1. Turner sells Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  2. "Chicago Tribune: Turner May Sell Equity In Company",, 1986-05-07. Retrieved on 2011-12-15. 
  3. Gendel, Morgan. "Turner Sells The Studio, Holds On To The Dream – Los Angeles Times",, 1986-06-07. Retrieved on 2011-12-15. 
  4. "Turner Plans New Channels." Associated Press (June 5, 1993).
  5. "Turner Buys Rights to 800 RKO Movies", Los Angeles Times (Reuters), December 10, 1987 (available online).
  6. "Turner Buying Hanna-Barbera", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, October 30, 1991. Retrieved on 2012-06-13. 
  7. Gendel, Morgan. "Turner Sells The Studio, Holds On To The Dream – Los Angeles Times",, 1986-06-07. Retrieved on 2011-12-15. 
  8. Delugach, Al (March 16, 1987). Investors Will Pay $48 Million for RKO : Confidential Memo Details Management Group's Purchase Deal. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on June 9, 2013.
  9. Turner Buys Rights to 800 RKO Movies. Los Angeles Times (December 10, 1987). Retrieved on June 9, 2013.
  10. You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008)
  11. 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.
  12. "Turner Buying Hanna-Barbera", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, October 30, 1991. Retrieved on 2012-06-13. 
  13. "Chicago Tribune" Done deal: Turner Broadcasting System Inc. said it closed..., Retrieved on December 27, 2012
  14. Citron, Alan. "Turner gets nod to buy New Line and Castle Rock", August 18, 1993. 

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