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There are seven major movie studios in Hollywood, and all have been subsumed into global media conglomerates except for one lone holdout, MGM. Below is a list of the film-related assets that the parent company of each studio holds, along with a snapshot of its business profile. For more information on how these global businesses dominate other industries, see the "Media Giants" section on the website for FRONTLINE's May 2001 production, "Merchants of Cool."

The Majors at the Box Office*
chart with the following data: 1. Universal (Vivendi): $845...2. Warner Bros. (AOL Time Warner): $753....3. Paramount (Viacom): $749...4. Disney: $742...5. Fox (News Corp.): $706...6. Sony Pictures: $639...7. MGM/UA: $444

*Through Nov. 11, 2001; based on domestic box-office receipts

Source: Variety, "WB Heats Up Market Share Race," Nov. 19, 2001

aol time warner

America Online came into existence in 1985; Time Inc. and Warner Bros. -- the precursors to Time Warner -- were both created more than six decades earlier, in 1922. The January 2001 $106-billion merger between America Online and Time Warner was the largest media merger in history, combining hundreds of powerful media assets under one roof.

Production/Distribution Tickets/Reservations Video Merchandise

Warner Brothers Studios
Castle Rock Entertainment
New Line Cinema
Fine Line Features

AOL MovieFone

Warner Home Video

Warner Bros. Consumer Products/
Warner Bros. Licensing


At one time, MGM was the darling of Hollywood, home to legends such as Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg. In the past few decades, however, it has seen several owners come and go. Still, it holds 4,100 titles in its film library, and there have been reports that an MGM renaissance is under way.

Production/Distribution Video Merchandise

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Orion Pictures
United Artists Pictures
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distribution

MGM Home Entertainment

MGM Interactive
MGM Consumer Products
MGM Music


Rupert Murdoch's global empire began in 1952, when he inherited two Australian newspapers from his father. Now his company owns diverse properties such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and HarperCollins Publishers. News Corporation bought Twentieth Century Fox in 1985.

Production/Distribution Video Merchandise

Twentieth Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures
Blue Sky Studios
Fox Searchlight Pictures
New Regency Productions (partial ownership)

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment International

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising


Japan-based Sony Corporation started in 1946 as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering, with three employees. Now, it boasts more than 180,000 employees worldwide and over $58 billion in sales for 2001. It has more than 1,000 subsidiaries worldwide, many of them key media properties.

Production/Distribution Theater Operations Video Merchandise

Sony Pictures Entertainment
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Classics
Screen Gems
TriStar Pictures
Columbia TriStar Films (U.K.)
Columbia TriStar Film Distributors
Sony Pictures Imageworks (animation)
Sony Pictures Studios

Loews Theatres (partial ownership)
Star Theatres (partial ownership)
Cineplex Odeon (partial ownership)
Plitt Theatres (partial ownership)
RKO Century Warner Theatres (partial ownership)
Walter Reade Theatres (partial ownership)

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Columbia House Video & Disc Club (joint venture with AOL Time Warner)

Sony Pictures Consumer Products


Sumner Redstone's Viacom is the third largest media conglomerate, behind AOL Time Warner and Disney. Not only does Viacom house a major studio, it also owns movie theaters (1,700 of them in 13 countries) and has an 82-percent stake in Blockbuster, the No. 1 video-rental chain.

Production/Distribution Theater Operations Video Distribution/Stores Merchandise

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Classics
Films Paramount S.A. (France)
Paramount Pictures International

United Cinemas International (joint venture with Vivendi Universal)
United International Pictures (partial ownership)
Paramount Theaters
Famous Players (Canada)
National Amusements (owned by Chairman Sumner Redstone's family)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blockbuster Video

Famous Music Publishing (soundtracks)


In 2000, Vivendi acquired Canada's Seagram, which owned Universal Studios, to form Vivendi Universal. Last year, U.S. box-office revenues for Universal topped $1 billion for the first time. (It was second to Disney, whose pictures earned only $12 million more than Universal's at the box office.) Through its 42-percent ownership of USA Networks, Vivendi also has interests in October Films and TicketMaster.

Production/Distribution Tickets/Reservations Video Merchandise

Universal Studios
October Films (partial owner)
Gramercy Pictures (partial owner)
United International Pictures (partial owner)
Cinema International BV (partial owner)
Universal Studios Distributing
Cinema International Corp.

Ticketmaster, TicketWeb
(through partial ownership of USA Networks, which owns Ticketmaster)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Universal Video & Music Distribution
Universal Studios Home Video

MCA/Universal Merchandising
Merchandising Corp. of America


Disney Brothers Studio produced its first animated feature film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," in 1937. Today, the Walt Disney Company is the second largest media conglomerate in the world behind AOL Time Warner. And for the last three years (1998-2000), Disney's pictures have brought in the most revenues at the domestic box office; last year alone, Disney's studios generated more than $1.1 billion in ticket sales.

Production/Distribution Video Merchandise Online

Walt Disney Pictures
Touchstone Pictures
Hollywood Pictures
Caravan Pictures
Miramax Films
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Buena Vista International
Walt Disney Feature Animation

Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Consumer Products

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