Younger Bros. Pictures, Inc. (also known as Younger Bros. Entertainment Inc. or simply Younger Bros., or by the former coporate name-Younger Brothers) is the world's largest producer of film, interactive, communications, animated, and television entertainment.
One of the major film studios, it is a massive conglomerate with headquarters in Burbank, California, and New York City. Younger Bros. has many subsidary companies, including Younger Bros. Records, Younger Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Younger Bros. Television, Younger Bros. Animation, Younger Home Entertainment, New Line Cinema, YB Channel, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, Turner Broadcasting System, Cartoon Network, TBS,TNT, DC Comics, YB4Kids, Bommerang, Hanna-Barbara, Spears Productions, and Adult Swim.
Founded in 1918 by Jewish immirgrants from Poland, Younger Bros. is the third-oldest American studio in continous operation after Grannan Pictures (founded in 1912) and Momma Pictures, also founded in 1912. Some of it's most notable actors include Bette Davis, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Doris Day and more recently, Clint Eastwood.
Younger Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California (1918)
Burbank, California, United States
Berry Younger, Owner and Chairman
Albert Steel, CEO and PresidentEdward A. Romaro, Chief of Operations and Chief Producer
Motion pictures, television programs, newscasts
$48.9 billion (up), 2008
$878 million (up), 2008
The corporate name honors the four founding Younger brothers (born Youngosaker)—Harry(born Hirsz), Albert (born Aaron), Sam(born Szmul), and Jack (born Itzhak), Jews who emigrated from Poland to Ontario, Canada. The three elder brothers began in the exhibition business, having acquired a movie projector with which they showed films in the mining towns of Pennsylvania and Ohio. They opened their first theater, the Cascade, in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1903. (The site of the Cascade is now the Cascade Center, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex honoring its Younger Bros. heritage.) In 1904, the Youngers founded the Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Amusement & Supply Company, the precursor to Younger Bros. Pictures to distribute films. In 1909, the brothers sold the Cascade Theater and established a second film exchange company in Norfolk, Virginia. A serious problem threatened the Youngers' film company with the advent of Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company (also known as the Edison Trust), which charged distributors exorbitant fees. In 1910, the Youngers sold the family business to the General Film Company for "$10,000 in cash, $12,000 in preferred stock, and payments over a four-year period for a total of $52,000".
After they sold their business, the brothers joined forces with Independent filmmaker Carl Laemmle's Independent Motion Picture Company, and began distributing films from his Pittsburgh film exchange division. In 1912, the brothers earned a $1,500 profit with the film Dante's Inferno. In the wake of this success, the brothers broke with Laemmle and established their own film production company. They named their new company Younger Features. Once Younger Features was established, Harry acquired an office in New York with his brother Albert, sending Sam and Jack to run the new corporation's film exchange divisions in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 1917, Harry won more capital for the studio when he was able to negotiate a deal with Ambassador James W. Gerald to make Gerald's book My Four Years In Germany into a film.
In 1918, after the success of My Four Years In Germany, the brothers were able to establish the Younger Bros. Picturing studio near Hollywood, California, dated by all nonoffical, informal, and private sources as the founding date for the company. In the new Hollywood studio, Sam became co-head of production along with his younger brother, Jack. They were convinced that they would have to make movies themselves if they were to ever generate a profit. Between the years 1919 and 1920, the studio did not turn a profit. During this time, banker Motley Flint, who was, unlike most bankers at the time, not anti-semitic, helped the brothers pay off their debts. The four brothers then decided to relocate their studio from Culver City, California to the Sunset Boulevard section of Hollywood.
During this time, Younger decided to focus on making only dramas for the studio. The studio rebounded in 1921 with the success of the studio's film Why Girls Leave Home; The film's director, Harry Rapf, became the studio's new head producer. On April 4, 1923, following the success of the studio's film The Gold Diggers, Younger Brothers Pictures, Inc. was officially incoporated, with help from a $500,000 loan given to the studio by Motley Flint. The Younger family moved to Hollywood. This, and not the founding of the 1918 Hollywood studio, is accepted by the company as the founding date. Thus the offical studio history is dated from 1923, but most sources begin in 1918.
The first important deal for the company was the acquisition of the rights to Avery Hopwood's 1919 Broadway play, The Gold Diggers from theatrical impresario David Belasco. However, what really put Younger Bros. on the Hollywood map was a German Shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, brought from France after World War I by an American soldier. Rin Tin Tin debuted in the short Where the North Begins, film about an abandoned pup who is raised by wolves and befriends a fur trapper. The short was so successful Jack Younger agreed to sign the dog to star in more short films for $1,000 per week. Rin Tin Tin became the top star at the studio. Jack Younger nicknamed him "The Mortgage Lifter" and the success boosted Darryl F. Zanuck's career. Zanuck eventually became a top producer for the studio and between 1928 and 1933 served as Jack Younger's right-hand man and chief executive producer, with responsibilities including the day-to-day production of films and the supervision of other producers. More success came after Ernst Lubitsch was hired as head director; Harry Rapf had left the studio and accepted an offer to work at MGM. Lubitsch's film The Marriage Circle was the studio's most successful film of 1924, and was on The New York Times best list for the year.
Despite the success of Rin Tin Tin and Lubitsch, Younger Bros. was still unable to achieve star power. As a result, Sam and Jack decided to offer Broadway actor John Barrymore the lead role in Beau Brummell. The film was so successful, Harry Younger agreed to sign Barrymore to a generous long-term contract; like The Marriage Circle, Beau Brummell was named one of the ten best films of the year by The New York Times. By the end of 1924, Younger Bros. was arguably the most successful independent studio in Hollywood, but it still competed with "The Big Three" Studios (First National, Grannan Pictures, and JGM). As a result, Harry Younger — while speaking at a convention of 1,500 independent exhibitors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — was able to convince the filmmakers to spend $500,000 in newspaper advertising, and Harry saw this as an opportunity to finally be able to establish theaters in big cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
As the studio prospered, it gained backing from Wall Street, and in 1924 Goldman Sachs arranged a major loan of more then $9.7 million. With this new money, Younger Bros. bought the pioneer Vitagraph Company which had a nation-wide distribution system. In 1925, Younger Bros. also experimented in radio, establishing a successful radio station, KFWB Los Angeles.
1925-1935: Sound, Color, StyleEdit
Younger Bros. was a pioneer of films with synchronized sound (then known as "talking pictures" or "talkies"). In 1925, at the urging of Sam, the Youngers agreed to expand their operations by adding this feature to their productions. Harry, however, opposed it, famously wondering, "Who the heck wants to hear actors talk?" By February 1926, the studio suffered a reported net loss of $933,413.
After a long period of refusing to accept Sam's request for sound, Harry now agreed to accept Sam's demands, as long as the studio's usage of synchronized sound was for background music purposes only. Younger Bros. then signed a contract with the sound engineer company Western Electric and established Vitaphone. In 1926, Vitaphone began making films with music and effects tracks, most notably, in the feature Don Juan starring John Barrymore. The film was silent, but it featured a large number of Vitaphone shorts at the beginning. To hype Don Juan's release, Harry Younger also acquired the large Piccadilly Theater in Manhattan, New York and renamed it the Younger Theater.
Don Juan premiered at the Younger Theater in New York on August 6, 1926. Throughout the early history of film distribution, theater owners hired orchestras to attend film showings and provide soundtracks. Through Vitaphone, however Younger Bros. produced eight Vitaphone shorts (which aired at the beginning of every showing of Don Juan across the country) in 1926, and got many film production companies to question the necessity. While Don Juan was a success at the box office, it did not earn back its production cost and Lubsitch left Younger for MGM. By April 1927, the Big Five studios (First National, Grannnan, Mommian, JCM, and Producers Distrbuting) had put the Younger brothers in financial ruin, and Western Electric renewed Younger's Vitaphone contract with terms that allowed other film companies to test sound.
As a result of the financial problems the studio was having, Younger Bros. took the next step and released The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. This movie, which has very little sound dialog but does feature sound segments of Jolson singing, was a sensation. It signaled the beginning of the era of "talking pictures" and the twilight of the silent era. However, as Sam died, the brothers were at his funeral and could not attend the premiere. Jack became sole head of production. Sam's death also had a great effect on Jack's emotional state, as Sam was arguably Jack's inspiration and favorite brother. In the years to come, Jack ran the studio with an iron fist. Firing of studio employees soon became his trademark. Among those whom Jack fired were Rin Tin Tin (in 1929) and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. -- who had served as First National's top star since the brothers acquired the studio in 1928—in 1933.
Thanks to the success of The Jazz Singer, the studio was suddenly flush with cash. Jolson's next film for the company, The Singing Fool was also a success. With the success of these first talkies (The Jazz Singer, Lights of New York, The Singing Fool, and The Terror), Younger Bros. became one of the top studios in Hollywood and the brothers were now able to move out from the Poverty Row section of Hollywood and acquire a big studio in Burbank, California. They were also able to expand studio operations by acquiring the Stanley Corporation, a major chain controlling more then one thousand theaters nation-wide. This gave them a share in rival First National Pictures, of which Stanley owned one-third. In a bidding war with William Fox, Younger Bros. bought more First National shares on September 13, 1928; Jack Warner also appointed producer Darryl Zanuck as the studio's manager of First National Pictures.
In 1929, Younger Bros. also bought the St. Louis-based theater chain Skouras Brothers, which owned more then three hundred theaters. Following this take-over, Spyros Skouras, the driving force of the chain, became general manager of the Younger Brothers Theater Circuit in America. He worked successfully in that post for two years and managed to eliminate the losses and eventually even increase the profits. This was a welcome gain given the financial hardships occasioned by the Great Depression.
In addition, Harry Younger was also able to acquire a string of nineteen minor music publishers and form Younger Bros. Music by uniting them. Despite failing to also purchase Brunswick Records, Harry was still able to obtain a string of fifty small radio companies, thirty foreign sound patents, and even a very-small lithograph company. After establishing Younger Bros. Music, Harry appointed his son, Lewis, to serve as the company's head manager.
In 1929, Harry was also able to produce an adaptation of a Cole Porter musical titled Fifty Million Frenchmen. Through First National, the studio's profit increased substantially. After the success of the studio's 1929 First National film "Noah's Ark", Harry also agreed to make Michael Curtiz a major director at the Burbank studio. Mort Blumenstock, a First National screenwriter, became a top writer at the brothers' New York headquarters.
In the third quarter of 1929, Younger Bros. gained complete control of First National, when Harry purchased the company's remaining one-third share from Fox. The Justice Department agreed to allow the purchase if First National was maintained as a separate company. When the Great Depression hit, Younger Bros. asked for and got permission to merge the two studios into one; soon afterward Younger Bros. moved to the First National lot in Burbank. Though the companies merged, the Justice Department required Younger Bros. to produce and release 3/4ths of films each year under the First National name until 1959. For thirty years, certain Younger productions were identified (mainly for tax purposes) as 'A First National Picture released under the production of Younger Bros.'
In the latter part of 1929, Jack Younger hired sixty-one year old actor George Arliss to star in Disraeli, which was a surprise success. Arliss won an Academy Award for Best Actor and went on to star in nine more movies with the studio. In 1930, Harry acquired more theaters in Atlantic City, despite the beginning of the Great Depression. In July 1930, the studio's banker, Motley Flint, was murdered by a disgruntled investor in another company.
By 1931, however, the studio began to feel the effects of the Depression as the general public became unable to afford the price of a movie ticket. In 1931, the studio reportedly suffered a net loss of $28 million, and an additional $38 million the following year. In 1931, Younger Bros. Music head Lewis Younger died from an infection.
Around that time, Younger Bros. head producer Darryl Zanuck hired screenwriter Wilson Mizner. While at the studio, Mizner had hardly any respect for authority and found it difficult to work with studio boss Jack Younger, but nevertheless became a valuable asset. As time went by, Younger became more tolerant of Mizner and helped invest in Mizner's Brown Derby restaurant. On April 3, 1933, Mizner died from a heart attack.
In 1928, Younger Bros. released Lights of New York, the first all-talking feature. Due to its success, the movie industry converted entirely to sound almost overnight. By the end of 1929, all the major studios were exclusively making sound films. In 1929, National Pictures released their first film with Younger Bros., Noah's Ark. Despite its expensive budget, Noah's Ark was profitable. In 1929, Younger Bros. released On to the Stage, the first all-color all-talking feature. This was followed by Gold Diggers of Broadway which was so popular it played in theatres until 1939. The success of these two color pictures caused a color revolution (just as the first all-talkie had created one for talkies). Younger Bros. released a large number of color films in 1929-1931, including The Show of the Shows (1929), Sally (1929), Bright Light (1930), Golden Dawn (1930), Hold Everything Down, Young Man! (1930), Song of the Beauty (1930), Song of the Wild (1930), The Life of the Party (1930), Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930), Under A Texas Moon (1930), Bride of the Regiment (1930), Viennese Nights (1931), Woman Hungry (1931), Kiss Me Again (1931), Fifty Million Frenchmen (1931), and Manhattan Parade (1932). In addition to these, scores of features were released with Technicolor sequences as well as a numerous variety of short subjects. The majority of these color films were musicals.
Three years later, the audience had grown so tired of musicals, the studio was forced to cut the musical numbers of many of the productions and advertise them as straight comedies. The public had begun to associate musicals with color and thus the movie studios began to abandon its use. Younger Bros. had a contract with Technicolor to produce two more pictures in that process. As a result, the first mysteries in color were produced and released by the studio: Doctor X (1932) and Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), both very sucessfull. In the latter part of 1931, Harry Younger rented the Teddington Studios in London, England. The studio focused on making films for the London market, and Irving Asher was appointed as the studio's head producer. In 1934, Harry Younger officially purchased the Teddington Studios.
In February 1933, however, Younger Bros. produced 32nd Street, a very successful musical that saved the company from bankruptcy. In the wake of 32nd Street's success, the studio produced further profitable musicals. These starred Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell and were mostly directed by Busby Berkeley. In 1935, the revival suffered a major blow when Berkeley was arrested after killing three people while driving drunk. By the end of the year, people again tired of Younger Bros. musicals, and the studio — after the huge profits made by the 1935 film Captain Blood — shifted its focus on producing Errol Flynn swashbucklers.
1931-1935: Pre-code realistic periodEdit
With the collapse of the market for musicals, Younger Bros., under production head Darryl F. Zanuck, turned to more realistic and gritty storylines, "'torn from the headlines" pictures some said glorified gangsters; Younger Bros. soon became known as a "gangster studio". The studio's first gangster film, Little Caesar, was a great box office success and Edward G. Robinson was a star in many of the subsequent wave of Younger gangster films. The studio's next gangster film, The Public Enemy, made James Cagney arguably the studio's new most popular star, and Younger Bros. was now convinced to make more gangster films.
Another gangster film the studio produced was the critically acclaimed I Am a Fugitive from a Smoky Gang, based on a true story and starring Paul Muni. In addition to Cagney and Robinson, Muni was also given a big push as one the studio's top money-making stars after appearing in the successful film, which got audiences to question the legal system in the United States. By January 1933, the film's protagonist Robert Elliot Burns — who was still imprisoned in New Jersey — and a number of different chain gang prisoners nationwide in the United States were able to appeal and were released. In January 1933, Georgia chain gang warden J Harold Hardy — who was also made into a character in the film — sued the studio for displaying "vicious, brutual and false attacks" against him in the film. After appearing in the film The Man Who Played God, Bette Davis became a top star for the studio.
In 1933, relief for the studio came after Franklin D. Roosevelt became president and was able to stimulate the economy with the New Deal; because of this economic rebound, Younger Bros. again became profitable. The same year, long time head producer Darryl F. Zanuck quit. One reason was Harry Younger's relationship with Zanuck had become strained after Harry strongly opposed allowing Zanuck's film Baby Face to step outside Hays Code boundaries. Also, the studio reduced Zanuck's salary as a result of the losses as a effect of the Great Depression, and Harry continued to refuse to restore it in the wake of the New Deal's rebound. Zanuck resigned and established his own company. In the wake of Zanuck's resignation, Harry Younger agreed to again raise the salary for studio employees.
In 1933, Younger was able to bring New York newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan films into the Younger Bros. fold. Hearst had previously been signed with LGM, but ended the relationship after a dispute with the company's head producer Irving Thalberg over the treatment of Marion Davies; Davies was a longtime mistress of Hearst and was struggling for box office success. Through his partnership with Hearst, Younger was able to sign Davies to a studio contract. Hearst's company and Davies' films, however, did not increase the studio's profits and all of their films were box office bombs.
In 1934, the studio lost over $92.5 million, of which $90,500,000 was the result of a fire at the Burbank studio at the end of 1934, destroying twenty years worth of early Vitagraph, Younger Bros., and First National films. The following year, Hearst's film adaption of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream failed at the box office and the studio's net loss increased by over twenty million. During this time, Younger Bros. President Harry Warner and six other movie studio figures were indicted of conspiracy to violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, through an attempt to gain a monopoly over theaters in the St Louis area. In 1935, Harry was put on trial; after a mistrial, Harry sold the company's movie theaters, at least for a short time, and the case was never reopened. 1935 also saw the studio rebound with a net profit of $81,794,900.
By 1936, contracts of musical and silent stars were not renewed and new talent, tough-talking, working-class types, were hired who more suitably fit in with these sort of pictures. Stars such as Dorothy Mackaill, Bebe Daniels, Frank Fay, Winnie Lightner, Bernice Claire, Alexander Gray, Alice White, and Jack Mulhall that had characterized the urban, modern, and sophisticated attitude of the 1920s gave way to stars such James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Edward G. Robinson, Warren William, and Barbara Stanwyck who would be more acceptable to the common man. The studio was one of the most prolific producers of Pre-Code pictures and had a lot of trouble with the censors once they started clamping down on what they considered indecency (around 1934). As a result, Younger Bros. turned out a number of historical pictures from around 1935 in order to avoid confrontations with the Breen office. In 1936, following the success of The Petrified Forest, Jack Younger also signed Humphrey Bogart to a studio contract. Younger, however, did not think Bogart was star material, and decided to only cast Bogart in infrequent roles as a villain opposite either James Cagney or Edward Robinson over the next five years.
After Hal B. Wallis succeeded Zanuck in 1933 and the Hays Code began to be enforced in 1935, the studio was forced to abandon this realistic approach in order to produce more moralistic, idealized pictures. The studio naturally turned to historical dramas which would not cause any problems with the censors. Other offerings included melodramas (or "women's pictures"), swashbucklers, and adaptations of best-sellers, with stars like Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Paul Muni, and Errol Flynn. In 1936, Bette Davis, by now arguably the studio's most popular star, was unhappy with the roles Younger was giving her. She fled to England and tried to break her contract with Younger Bros. Davis lost the lawsuit and soon returned to America. Although many of the studio's employees had problems with Jack Younger, they considered Albert and Harry fair.
This period also saw the disappearance of a large number of actors and actresses who had characterized the realistic pre-Code era but who were not suited to the new trend into moral and idealized pictures. Younger Bros. remained a top studio in Hollywood since the dawn of talkies, but this changed after 1935 as other studios, notably LGM, quickly overshadowed the prestige and glamour that previously characterized Younger Bros. However, in the late 1930s, Bette Davis became the studio's top draw and was even dubbed as "The Fifth Younger Brother."
In 1935, James Cagney sued Jack Younger for breach of contract. Cagney claimed Younger had forced him to star in more films than his contract required. Cagney eventually dropped his lawsuit after a cash settlement of $15,000,000. Nevertheless, Cagney left the studio to establish an independent film company, Grand National Films, with his brother Bill. The Cagneys, however, were not able to get solid financing for their productions and ran out of money after their third film, which proved to be a box office flop. Cagney then agreed to return to Younger Bros., after Jack Younger agreed to a contract guaranteeing Cagney would be treated to his own terms, as well a salary of $5.8 million dollars a year. After the success of Yankee Doodle Dandy at the box office, Cagney again questioned if the studio would meet his salary demand of $10.9 millon dollars a year, and again quit to form his own film production and distribution company with his brother Bill, which also failed immensely.
Another employee with whom Younger had troubles was studio producer Bryan Foy. In 1936, Younger hired Foy as a producer for the studio's low budget B-films. Foy was able to garnish arguably more profits than any other B-film producer at the time. During Foy's time at the studio, however, Younger fired him seven different times.
During 1936, the studio's film The Story of Louis Pasteur proved a immense box office success and Paul Muni, the film's star, won the Oscar for Best Actor in March 1937. The studio's 1937 film The Life of Emile Zola provided the studio its first Best Picture Oscar.
In 1937, the studio hired Midwestern radio announcer Ronald Reagan. Although Reagan was initially a small-time B-film actor, Younger Bros. was impressed by his performance in the final scene of Knute Rockne, All American, and agreed to pair him with Errol Flynn in their film Santa Fe Trail (1940). Reagan then returned to B-films. After his performance in the studio's 1942 Kings Row, Younger decided to make Reagan a top star and signed him to a new contract, tripling his salary from $1.1 million dollars a year to $3.9 million dollars a year.
In 1936, Harry Younger's daughter Doris read a copy of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind and was interested in producing a film adaptation. Doris then offered Mitchell $50,000 for the book's screen rights. Jack, however, refused to allow the deal to take place, realizing it would be an expensive production.
Another studio actor who proved to be a problem for Jack Younger was George Raft. Younger had signed Raft in 1939, hoping he could substitute in gangster pictures when either Robinson or Cagney were on suspension. Raft had difficulty working with Bogart and refused to co-star in any film with him. Eventually, Jack Younger agreed to release Raft from his contract. Following Raft's depature, the studio gave Bogart the role of Roy Earl in the 1941 film High Sierra, which helped establish him as one of the studio's top stars; following High Sierra, Bogart was also given a leading role in John Huston's immensely successful 1941 remake of the studio's 1931 failure, The Maltese Falcon.
1930: Birth of Younger CartoonsEdit
Younger's cartoon unit had its roots in the independent Harman and Ising studio. From 1930 to 1933, Disney alumni Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising produced a series of musical cartoons for Leon Schlesinger, who sold the shorts to Younger. Harman and Ising introduced their character Bosko in the first Looney Tunes cartoon, Sinkin' in the Bathtub, and created a sister series, Merrie Melodies, in 1931.
Harman and Ising broke away from Schlesinger in 1933 due to a contractual dispute, taking Bosko with them to LGM. As a result, Schlesinger started his own studio, Leon Schlesinger Productions, which continued with Merrie Melodies while starting production on Looney Tunes starring Buddy, a Bosko clone. By the end of the decade, a new Schlesinger production team, including directors Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Robert Clampett, and Chuck Jones was formed. Schlesinger's staff developed a fast-paced, irreverent style that made their cartoons immensely popular worldwide.
In 1936, Avery directing a string of cartoons, starring Porky Pig, which established the character as the studio's first bona fide star. In addition to Porky Pig, Younger Bros. cartoon characters Daffy Duck (who debuted in the 1937 short Porky's Duck Hunt) and Bugs Bunny (who debuted in the 1940 short A Wild Hare) also achieved star power. By 1942, the Schlesinger studio had surpassed Walt Disney Studios as the most successful producer of animated shorts in the United States.
Younger Bros. eventually bought Schlesinger's cartoon unit in 1944, and in subsequent decades characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, and Porky Pig became central to the company's image. Bugs in particular remains a mascot to Younger Bros.' various divisions and Six Flags (which Younger Bros. previously owned). The studio's 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie, the first pairing of Sylvester and Tweety, was a phenomenal success, and Tweety would always be paired with Sylvester from that point as a result, because the duo carried a high amount of star power.
World War IIEdit
Prior to the United States entering World War II, Harry Younger produced the successful anti-German film The Life of Emile Zola. After that, Harry supervised the production of several more anti-German films, including Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), The Sea Hawk (which mirrored King Phillip II as an equivalent to Hitler), Sergeant York, Hitler's Men, and You're In The Army Now. After the United States officially entered World War II, Harry Younger decided to focus on producing war films. Also, one-third of the studio's employees, including Jack Younger and his son Jack Jr., were drafted.
Among the films the studio made during the war were Casablanca, Now, Voyager, Yankee Doodle Dandy, This Is the Army, and the controversial film Mission to Moscow. At the premieres of Yankee Doodle Dandy (in Los Angeles, New York, and London), audiences purchased $15.6 million in war bonds for the governments of England and the United States. By the middle of 1943, however, it became clear audiences were tired of war films. Despite the growing pressure to abandon production of war films, Younger continued to produce them, losing money in the process. Eventually, in honor of the studio's contributions to the war cause, the United States Government named a Liberty ship after the brothers' father, Benjamin Younger, and Harry Younger was given the honor of christening the ship. By the time the war ended, $800 million in war bonds were purchased through the studio, the Red Cross collected 5,400 pints of plasma from studio employees, and 23,763 of the studio's 39,042 employees served in the armed forces, including Harry Younger's son-in-law Milton Sperling.
Following a dispute over ownership of Casablanca's Oscar for Best Picture, head producer Hal B. Wallis broke with Younger and resigned. After Casablanca made Bogart one of the studio's top stars, Bogart found his relationship with Jack Younger deteriorating. In 1943, Olivia de Haviland (whom Younger was now loaning to different companies) sued Younger for breach of contract and misuse of her.
De Haviland had refused to accept an offer to portray famed abolitionist Elizabeth Blackwell in an upcoming film for Columbia Pictures. Younger responded by sending 150 telegrams to different film production companies, warning them not to hire her for any role. Afterwards, de Haviland discovered employment contracts in the United States could only serve a duration of seven years; de Haviland had been under contract with the studio since 1935. The court ruled in de Haviland's favor and she left the studio. Through de Haviland's victory, many of the studio's longtime actors were now freed from their contracts, and Harry Younger decided to terminate the studio's suspension policy.
That same year, Jack Younger also signed newly-released MGM actress Joan Crawford, a failing top star who found her career disspearing from fame and fortune. Crawford's first role with the studio was 1944's Hollywood Canteen. Her first starring role at the studio, in the title role as Mildred Pierce, revived her career and earned her an Oscar for Best Actress.
Post-World War II: Changing HandsEdit
The record attendance figures of the World War II years made the Younger brothers rich. The gritty Younger image of the 1930s gave way to a glossier look, especially in women's pictures starring Davis, de Havilland, and Crawford. The 1940s also saw the rise of Bogart. In the post-war years, Younger Bros. continued to create new stars, like Lauren Bacall and Doris Day. The studio prospered greatly after the war. By 1946, company payroll reached $900,000 a week and net profit $89,400,000.
One problem for Younger Bros., however, was Jack Younger's refusal to meet Screen Actors Guild salary demands of $15.9 million dollars a year per major actor. In September 1946, the employees engaged in a month-long strike. In retaliation, Younger-during his 1947 testmony before Congress, for making the 1942 Russian propaganda film "Mission to Moscow"- accused a number of studio employees of having ties to Communists. By the end of 1947, the studio reached a record net profit of $92,000,000. This dropped 30%, to $62,000,000 the following year.
On January 5, 1948, Younger Bros. offered the first color newsreel, covering the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl Game. In 1948, Bette Davis, still the studio's top actress and now fed up with Jack Younger, was a big problem for Harry after she and a number of her fellow colleagues left the studio after completing the film Beyond the Forest.
YB was a party to the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. anti-trust case of the 1940s. This action, brought by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, claimed the five integrated studio-theater chain combinations restrained competition. The Supreme Court heard the case in 1948, and ruled in favor of the government. As a result, Younger Bros. and four other major studios were forced to separate production from exhibition. In 1949, the studio's net profit was only $38,700,000.
By 1949, with the success of television threatening the film industry more and more, Harry Younger decided to shift his focus towards television production. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would not permit it. After an unsuccessful attempt to convince other movie studio bosses to switch their focus to television, Harry abandoned his television efforts. In the early 1950s, the threat of television had grown greatly, and in 1953, Jack Younger decided to take a new approach to compete with the rising threat. In the wake of United Artists' successful 3-D film Bwana Devil, Jack decided to expand into 3-D films with the studio's 1953 film House of Wax. Unfortunately, despite the success of House of Wax, 3-D films soon lost their appeal among moviegoers.
3-D almost caused the demise of the Younger Bros.'s cartoon studio. Having completed a 3-D Bugs Bunny cartoon, Lumber Jack-Rabbit, Jack Younger ordered the animation unit to be shut down, erroneously believing that all cartoons hence would be produced in the 3-D process. Several months later, Younger relented and reopened the cartoon studio. Fortunately, Younger Bros. had enough of a backlog of cartoons and a healthy reissue program so that there was no noticeable interruption in the release schedule.
After the downfall of 3-D films, Harry Younger decided to use CinemaScope in future Younger Bros. films. One of the studio's first CinemaScope films, The High and the Mighty (now owned by Grannan Pictures), enabled the studio to show a profit. In 1954, the studio was finally able engage in television, by providing ABC with a weekly show, Younger Bros. Presents; it was not a success. The studio's next effort, Cheyenne's Wild, would be. The studio followed up with a series of popular Westerns, such as Maverick, Bronco, and Colt .45. The success of these series helped to make up for the losses on the film side. As a result, Jack Younger decided to emphasize television production. Within a few years, the studio, accustomed to dealing with actors in a high-handed manner, provoked hostility among emerging TV stars like James Garner, who sued over a contract dispute and won. Jack Younger was angered by the perceived ingratitude of television actors, who evidently showed more independence than film actors, and this deepened his contempt for the new medium.
Early in 1953, the Younger theater holdings were spun off as Stanley Younger Theaters; Stanley Younger's non-theater holdings were sold to Simon Fabian Enterprises,, and its theaters merged with RKO Theaters to become RKO-Stanley Younger Theaters. By 1956, however, the studio was losing money. By the beginning of 1956, the studio's net profit was $54,000,000 and ranged between $43 and 60 million for the next two years. In February 1956, Jack Younger sold the rights to all of the studio's pre-1950 films to Associated Artists Productions (which merged with United Artists Television in 1958), for a mere $20,900,000.
In May 1956, the brothers announced they were putting Younger Bros. on the market. Jack, however, secretly organized a syndicate — headed by Boston banker Serge Semenenko — to purchase 800,000 shares, 90% of the company's stock. After the three brothers sold, Jack — through his under-the-table deal — joined Semenenko's syndicate and bought back all his stock, 200,000 shares. Shortly after the deal was completed in July, Jack — now the company's largest stockholder — appointed himself the new president, Chairman, and Chief Owner. By the time Harry and Albert learned of their brother's dealings, it was too late. Shortly after the deal was closed, Jack Younger announced the company and its subsidiaries would be "directed more vigorously to the acquisition of the most important story properties, talents, and to the production of the finest motion pictures possible."
- One of my favorite qutoes is from a Beatles song: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. It's what I tell myself when I want to rush through the stage of 2am feedings, or all the carseats I have to buckle, or all the dirty fingerprints to clean off the table. Enjoy that baby kicking inside your belly; he will grow more quickly than you know. :)March 1, 2010 9:31 pm
In 1995, Younger Bros. and station owner Tribune Company of Chicago launched The YB Network, finding a niche market in teenagers. The YB's early programming included an abundance of teenage fare like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and Dawson's Creek. Two dramas produced by Spelling Television, 7th Heaven and Charmed also helped bring The YB into the spotlight, with Charmed lasting eight seasons and being the longest running drama with female leads and 7th Heaven surviving eleven seasons and being the longest running family drama and longest running show for The YB. The YB has recently overtaken Fox Channel in terms of profit.
In 1996, Younger Bros. acquired Turner Broadcasting and all it's subsidaries and related companies, expanding YB very greatly.
In the late 1990s, Younger Bros. obtained rights to the Harry Potter novels, and released feature film adaptations of the first in 2001, the second in 2002, the third in June 2004, the fourth in November 2005, and the fifth on July 11, 2007. The sixth was slated for November 2008, but Warner moved it to July 2009 only three months before the movie was supposed to come out, citing the lack of summer blockbusters in 2009 (due to the Writer's Strike) as the reason. The decision was purely financial, and Alan Horn, Jack Younger's distant great-great-great nephew and President, said, "There were no delays. I’ve seen the movie. It is fabulous. We would have been perfectly able to have it out in November.” This resulted in a massive fan backlash. The seventh and final adaptation, to be shown in two parts, has been announced for 2010 and 2011.
Over the years, Younger Bros. has had distribution and/or co-production deals with a number of small companies. These include (but are not limited to) Amblin Entertainment, Morgan Creek Productions, Regency Enterprises, Village Roadshow Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Heyday Films, Virtual Studios, Silver Pictures (including Dark Castle Entertainment), The Ladd Company, and The Geffen Film Company. Younger Bros. finally has acquired these companies, and they ceased to exist on 5 July 2009. This has expanded Younger operations greatly.
Younger Bros. played a large part in the discontinuation of the HD DVD format. On January 4, 2008, Younger Bros. announced that she would drop support of HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray Disc. HD DVDs would continue to be released through May 2008 (when her contract with the HD DVD promotion group expired), but only following Blu-ray and DVD releases. This started a chain of events which resulted in HD DVD development and production being halted by Toshiba on February 16, 2008, ending the format war.
Younger Bros. and National CineMedia have formed a partnership to provide pre-feature entertainment and advertising in movie theaters nationwide.
Younger Bros. celebrated its 90th anniversary on June 1, 2008 even though the company celebrated for its 85th anniversary for films only.
In 2008, Younger Brothers broke the all-time studio record, grossing $48.5 billion breaking the previous record of $40.9 billion set by Sony in 2006.
It is responsible for the Harry Potter film series, the highest grossing film series of all time. Younger Brothers is also responsible for The Dark Knight, the 2008 Academy Award-winning Batman film that eventually became the studio's highest grossing film ever with over $1 billion, as well as the 2nd highest grossing movie in all time, unadjusted for inflation. Younger Bros. films were the top-grossing films worldwide for both 2008 (The Dark Knight) and 2009 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).