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"The proudest name in entertainment"
—Slogan of United Artists Records during the 1960's

United Artists is a film studio from Hollywood.

The company was founded in 1919, one year after the founding of Warner Bros They stood out from the other Hollywood studios at the time for two reasons:

1. As the name "United Artists" indicates, UA was founded not by executives, but actors and directors--namely, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Mary Pickford, all major names in the era's film industry.[1] The founders intended to avoid Executive Meddling by taking control of their own work. To date, DreamWorks is the only other big studio founded by creators.

2. UA were never much more than backer-distributors (most other studios at the time made their own movies). Because of this, they were usually the Butt Monkey of the studio system's eight biggest studios during The Golden Age of Hollywood. In fact, sometimes it was like there was seven big studios and United Artists.

This all changed with the collapse of the studio system in the 1950's. While the other studios suffered as a result of this (especially RKO and Metro Goldwyn Mayer), UA prospered, with a system that bankrolled outside production companies, giving them more freedom than most of its other rivals wanted to. In the 1960s, this paid off with the company with releasing more hits every year, especially with the James Bond series. UA was purchased by Transamerica (an insurance company) in 1967, which they did to strengthen themselves to form a conglomerate in the veins of General Electric or RCA. This worked well for them, and soon nearly every studio was following their example (Disney was still making its own films).

United Artists was successful enough to diversify during The Fifties. The company started a TV production division in 1956. UA also launched United Artists Records in 1957; like other labels started by film studios, it was initially an outlet for soundtrack albums, but evolved into a major name in the music industry.

Unfortunately, this idyllic lifestyle came to a screeching halt in 1980, when UA distributed Heavens Gate. It had a big budget, but it ended up one of the most notorious creator-killing failures in history. So much that Transamerica's aforementioned ambition was dashed, and they were forced to sell the studio to Metro Goldwyn Mayer. Meanwhile, the record label got sold to EMI.

At first, MGM treated UA as an equal in the business. However, they fell out of favor when MGM began getting their hands on other libraries left and right. They then became more of an arthouse distributor.

A comeback was anticipated in 2006, when Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner joined forced to revitalize UA. Unfortunately, the comeback never materialized due to a combination of MGM's financial problems and Paula Wagner's departure, and MGM has since reclaimed full ownership.

Today, like MGM, United Artists is pretty much little more than a production company, getting its films distributed by other entities.

United Artists films with TV Tropes pages:

United Artists TV series with TV Tropes pages:


  1. Cowboy star William S. Hart was involved at the very beginning, but left before the studio got off the ground.
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