Sony Pictures Studios

Sony Pictures Studios

The Sony Pictures Studios are located on 10202 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California. They are bounded by Culver Boulevard (south), Washington Boulevard (north), Overland Avenue (West) and Madison (East) and is home to Sony Corporation’s Sony Pictures Entertainment division and its studios, Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures.

Early history

The history of the studio began when two people accidentally met – Harry Culver, the founding father of Culver City and Thomas H. Ince, the father of the Westerns. Culver saw Ince directing one of his westerns in La Ballona Creek. In an effort to enter the fledging movie business, Culver convinced Ince to move his studio operations from sunny Florida to Culver City and in 1915 the very first Culver City Studio began to take shape in the form of a Greek colonnade – the impressive entrance to Ince/Triangle Studios (From an aerial point of view the studios take a triangular shape). The colonnade is still standing today fronting Washington Boulevard and is a Culver City historical landmark.

Ince added a few stages and an Administration Building before selling out to his partners D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett. Thomas Ince relocated down the street and built what would someday be the Culver Studios. By 1918 Triangle Studios was up for sale and attracted film producer Samuel Goldwyn who bought the studios where Howard Deitz created the Leo The Lion trademark for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. Goldwyn also added a few sound stages before selling his shares in Goldwyn Studios.

The Historic MGM Studios

In 1924 Loews Theatres President Marcus Loew orchestrated the merger of three motion picture companies – The Metro Pictures Corporation, Goldwyn Studios and Louis B. Mayer Productions to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, adopting the Goldwyn Studio’s “Leo the Lion” trademark and occupying the Goldwyn production facilities in Culver City.

Under the helm of Louis B. Mayer and his "boy genius" of production, Irving G. Thalberg, MGM Studios became the most powerful motion picture studio in the world, boasting that it had “more stars than there are in heaven,” and churning out 52 motion pictures a year, from screen epics like Gone with the Wind (although it was shot in the Culver Studios), Ben-Hur, and Mutiny on the Bounty, to drawing-room dramas like Grand Hotel, Dinner At Eight, and Anna Karenina. But it was the glamorous Technicolor musicals like The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain and Gigi that MGM was known for.

MGM’s enormous success led to six working studio lots, more than including 28 sound stages – Stage 15 is the second largest sound stage in the world, and Stage 27 served as "Munchkinland" in the production of The Wizard of Oz.

In addition to the main production building, MGM added two large backlots – Lot 2 located opposite the main studio across Overland Avenue. Lot 3 entered the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Overland Avenue and was MGM’s largest backlot. The new multi-million dollar administration building was inaugurated in 1938 and was named after Irving G. Thalberg, who had recently died.

As the first Golden Age of Hollywood ended so did MGM's prestige; the Paramount decisions of 1948 broke MGM's connection with its parent company, and it floundered while trying to manage its own affairs; the studio had always been nothing more than wholly owned subsidiary of its theater chain, Loews's Incorporated. In 1969, Nevada millionaire Kirk Kerkorian (who was mainly interested in the name) bought MGM and proceeded to dismantle the legendary studio. MGM’s prized movie memorabilia was sold through an 18-day auction, and 38 acres of the studio’s backlots were sold. Lot 3, where The Bounty and The Cottonblossom once anchored and the St. Louis Sets in Meet Me In St. Louis stood, was bulldozed. Lot 2, where the Andy Hardy movies were shot and the New York Street for Singin' in the Rain stood, was sold to housing developments. Kerkorian funneled the money into constructing his hotel chain, the MGM Grand Hotels.

In 1980s Kerkorian acquired the equally struggling United Artists, then sold the combined MGM/UA Entertainment Co. to CNN founder Ted Turner who, after 74 days, sold MGM/UA back to Kirk Kerkorian while retaining the pre-1986 MGM film library. In 1986, The studio itself was sold to Lorimar Productions. After nearly six decades, the MGM sign and its Leo the Lion trademark came down from its Culver City Studio (many insiders felt that MGM metaphorically died) and moved across the street to the Filmland Building (now Sony Pictures Plaza) before their 1992 move to Santa Monica and finally settling in Century City.

Sony Pictures Studios

When Warner Bros acquired all the assets of Lorimar, Sony Pictures (the holding company of Columbia/Tri-Star) purchased the grand old MGM Studios from Warner Bros in 1990. It went through three-year comprehensive plan as it transitioned to the state-of-the-art 45-acre Sony Pictures Studios. It took appropriately from 1992 to 1996 to complete Sony Pictures. A majority of the workforce (elecrican, lighter, camera crews, writing staff and etc) was returning from Desert Shield/Desert Storm. At that time, saw the closure of several bases and commands to support the business growth of the area.

By the time Sony acquired the property, the studio went without so much without a coat of paint, but they invested $100 million to refurbish and restore the studio some of its original brilliance. All buildings were repainted; many are still named after film luminaries like Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster and so on. New walls were put up, they even restored the original ironwork gates fronting Washington Blvd. Nostalgic art-deco and false fronts on main street plus hand painted murals of old and new Columbia movies posters were added making this decrepit Culver City Studio one of the most attractive in Hollywood.

The "new" studio has one of the best post-production facilities available and it is open to the public for tours. Although not as busy as the old days, the studio continued to film a few TV sitcoms such as The King of Queens, Living with Fran, but both have ended production, as well as videotaped game shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! The revival of American Gladiators began production there in November 2007.

Taped programs

Game shows

Sitcoms

Dramas

External links

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