United Artists

By | Feb 5, 2016

Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith incorporated United Artists on February 5, 1919. Each of them own 20% of the corporation with the remaining 20% by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo serving as general counsel for the founders.

The first agreement allowed the principles to release four pictures a year. A number that soon they found they could not reach. They did turn to others such as Buster Keaton, King Vidor and Samuel Goldwyn to fill the schedule.

One of the reasons it was formed, perhaps the single most important reason, was that these artists didn’t like the practice of ‘block booking’ that the movie studios of the era had developed. This practice required movie houses to take a block of motion pictures, whether they wanted all of them or not, just to get the ones they may want. United Artists would deal with the exhibitors with each single picture.

The first United Artist released movie was Douglas Fairbanks “His Majesty, the American” on September 1, 1919

By the late 1940s, United Artists existed mostly in name only. Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford was contacted by Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin, two lawyers, in 1951 asking if they could run United Artists. They agreed, even though Chaplin at first was against the idea changing his mind only after US government revoked his re-entry visa in 1952.

Krim and Benjamin’s management and then ownership changed the direction of the corporation. United Artists became one of biggest movie corporations of the 1950s into the 1960s. In 1967 they sold their interests to Transamerica Corporation.

Today it is part of MGM Holdings and movies are still being produced as United Artist films/


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