TV Titles: a.a.p.
(Associated Artists Productions)
In 1956, a television distribution company called Associated Artists Productions (or a.a.p.) bought most of Warner Bros. pre-1948 film library. They got all the color Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes made up until July 24, 1948 ("Haredevil Hare" being the latest cartoon they got) and the black-and-white Harman-Ising Merrie Melodies (except for 1931's "Lady Play Your Mandolin", for reasons unknown). AAP also acquired hundreds of Warners' pre-1948 feature films and miscellaneous short subjects. AAP paid $21 million for all of those films and cartoons. This was in addition to the many non-Warner films which they already owned the rights to. AAP later also acquired Paramount's library of Popeye animated shorts.
When AAP began to distribute the shorts to television stations, they added their own opening titles to the cartoons. This brief opening is now familiar to any WB cartoon fan. The heads of Porky and Daffy, along with Elmer and Bugs standing near the AAP logo, while the beginning of the Merrie Melodies theme plays for a few seconds. Unlike Sunset/Guild Films, AAP's opening didn't cover up the WB opening shield or closing "That's all, folks!".
This wasn't the case with the Paramount Popeyes. AAP's opening which was attached to both the black-and-white Popeyes and the color Popeyes were there to cover up the opening and closing titles which originally featured the Paramount logo. For the black-and-white cartoons, the AAP logo featured no characters. It was very plain looking. For the later color Popeyes, an opening similar to the WB opening was added. It featured Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Popeye's head around the AAP logo while some of Popeye's familiar theme song played. At the end, AAP had a closing title saying "This picture was presented by a.a.p.".
Well, blow me down! It's the a.a.p. logos from the color Popeyes!
Pre-1948 Warner cartoons and Popeye cartoons would become a popular part of local kiddie programming for years and years to come.
In addition to distributing the cartoons to television stations, AAP also sold copies of the cartoons to the home movie market in the form of 8mm prints. They created their own artwork for the packaging of these films. Some examples can be seen below:
In 1959, AAP was sold to United Artists for about $30 million. Here is more information about the United Artists purchase from the book United Artists The Company That Built the Film Industry (1987) by Tino Balio:
Rapprochment for television began in 1955, when RKO, with Howard Hughs at the helm, withdrew from motion picture production and sold its pre-1948 film library to General Teleradio for $15 million. Two Months later, Warner Brothers sold its library of pre 1948 features and shorts to Associated Artists Productions. Other companies followed suit, and by 1958, an estimated 3,700 features, mostly of the pre 1948 vinatge, had been sold or leased to television for an estimated $220 million. Believing that these older features did not have sufficient entertainment value to compete with the new product, theater owners stayed calm.
UA became the first major company to break the 1948 barrier..... The post 1948 features UA released to television consisted mainly of Brittish product, including Eagle-Lion's. UA held back its hits until it could get a better fix on the market. Nonetheless, the competition took advantage of this opportunity to undercut UA's relations with exhibitors. In response, UA pointed out that 1948 was artificial since it had nothing to do with quality or ratings. (The screen actors guild was attempting to negotiate an industry-wide contract requiring the payment of residual compensation to its members who appeared in features made after 1948 that were leased to television.) UA owned no pre-1948 pictures; the majors, however, had released literally thousands of pictures to TV, sometimes flooding the market with as many as 750 films at one time. The majors had yet to release any post 1948 product because they were contractually unable to so, having failed to negotiate a deal with talent guilds over residuals.
In 1957, UA consolodated its position in the syndicated television field by acquiring Associated Artists Productions, the television distributor that owned the pre 1948 Warner Brothers film library. UA paid $27 millionfor the package, which contained 800 sound and 200 silent features, 1,400 shorts, and two cartoon series- "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies." In addition, the package contained 200 Monogram features and Paramount's Popeye cartoons.
Financing the AAP acquisition, said Krim, was like "paying for the cow with its own milk." AAP had outstanding unbilled contracts on the film libraries amounting to the $27 million purchase price. These contracts were for first-run showings on syndicated television. AAP's owners needed cash in a hurry, so UA went to Manufacturers's Trust for the entire amount. As security, UA put up the pictures. Said Krim, "that library was worth many millions of dollars to us over the years. In 1978, we could have gotten the same $27 million for what was still left in the library. In the interim twenty years, I guess the Warner pictures must have grossed $150 million."
United Artists was bought by MGM in 1982. The company become known as MGM/UA.
MGM then sold the MGM and United Artists film libraries to Ted Turner in 1985.
Turner soon started airing all these films on his TBS and TNT cable stations. Later, he starts up Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies.
This brings us to 1996, when Turner merges with Time-Warner.
And so... Time-Warner now owns their pre-1948 library of films again.
The a.a.p. title as it currently appears on many prints of the "pre-1948" Warner cartoons. Note how it has faded... (the original unfaded version can be seen at the top of this section).
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