Turner Entertainment Company, Inc. (commonly known as Turner Entertainment Co.) is a multimedia company founded by Ted Turner. Purchased by Time Warner, along with Turner Broadcasting System, the company was largely responsible for overseeing its library for worldwide distribution. In recent years, this role has largely been limited to being the copyright holder, as the library has since been incorporated into that of Turner Broadcasting's sibling company Warner Bros.
On March 25, 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, on August 26, 1986, he was forced to sell MGM back to Kerkorian for approximately $300 million. However, Turner kept MGM's film, television and cartoon library as well as a small portion of the United Artists library, forming Turner Entertainment Company, Inc. The library also included the pre-1950 Warner Bros. titles, the Fleischer Studios/Famous StudiosPopeye 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. In December 1987, Turner acquired the worldwide rights through license, to 800 RKO films from its then-parent company Wesray Capital Corporation.
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.
Turner Entertainment, as a production company, also creates original in-house programming, such as documentaries about the films it owns, new animated material based on Tom & Jerry and other related cartoon properties, and once produced made-for-TV movies, miniseries, and theatrical films such as Gettysburg, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, Fallen, The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance under the Turner Pictures banner. Turner also had an international distribution sales unit, Turner Pictures Worldwide Distribution. Turner Pictures folded into Warner Bros. after the Turner-Time Warner merger, and currently holds the distribution rights to the films made by the production division.
The Pagemaster and Cats Don't Dance were produced under Turner Feature Animation, Turner's animation unit headed by David Kirschner and Paul Gertz. Spun off from the feature division of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Turner Feature Animation was folded into Warner Bros. Feature Animation, which was then merged into Warner Bros. Animation.
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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 cartoon library on home video.
From early 1995 to early 1997, THE also distributed home video releases from New Line Home Video, taking over from Columbia TriStar Home Video as well as PBS programs (taking over from the defunct Pacific Arts). NLHE distributed New Line films on video by itself from 1997 until the Warner Bros./New Line Cinema merger in 2008. PBS shows are now distributed on video and DVD by PBS's own distribution company, PBS Distribution.
Upon the Turner-Time Warner 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. (Some magazines most notably Starlog when listing upcoming releases from Warner related to Cartoon Network programming listed it as being released by THE, likely to differentiate it from other, adult-oriented titles.)