Take the 2-minute tour ×
Movies & TV Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for movie and tv enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I noticed that most movies appear to be created by a cooperation of at least one very well known studio (like Pixar, Paramount, Dreamworks, etc.) on the one hand and a company you've never heard of on the other hand (example: Jack Reacher has Paramount and Skydance Productions, the latter one I've never heard of). This gives the impression that most of these smaller companies are only ever working on a single movie (which sounds like a bad business model to me).

Why is that? Did I just not watch enough movies to know all of these? And why do the larger studios need the smaller ones anyway? I find it hard to imagine the big ones need their resources. How do such partnerships form? (Not a single question but I believe there is more or less is a single answer.)

share|improve this question
3  
Given the premise of the question holds, it would seem more likely that the smaller studios come up with an idea and need the larger ones to get their ideas put to screen as they maybe don't have the neccessary resources on their own. So the smaller studio brings the idea/license and the larger one brings the money(/stars?). –  Napoleon Wilson Mar 19 at 19:17
    
What Christian said, and then there's also the cases where famous actors grow tired of just acting and wants to direct, as well. They usually (well, at least sometimes) set up a production company. Seen a bunch, but can only remember Happy Madison Productions (Adam Sandler) off the top of my head. –  Tom Mar 19 at 19:27
    
@Napoleon Wilson: Yeah that was one of my thoughts too. It'd be great if someone could elaborate a bit on that. Also, this still asks for some explanation about what they are doing other than "that single movie". I'd guess you need a bit more than one or two movies to stay in business? –  floele Mar 19 at 19:43
1  
Despite many have "Studios" in the name, these are production companies and aren't properly studios as we tend to think of them. Many are owned by well-known producers and directors (think Amblin Entertainment) or by A-list actors themselves as a means of developing projects (such as Cruise/Wagner Productions). Often they're the idea and execution side, and the major studios are the money and distribution side. That's the extent of my knowledge and I have no sources to site, so I'm only offering up as a comment. –  Michael Itzoe Mar 19 at 19:48

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Using the example for Jack Reacher in your question, Skydance Productions is a production company under Paramount, otherwise known as a subsidiary of Paramount.

From Wikipedia, the production company...:

may be directly responsible for fundraising for the production or may accomplish this through a parent company, partner, or private investor. It handles budgeting, scheduling, scripting, the supply with talent and resources, the organization of staff, the production itself, post-production, distribution, and marketing.1 Production companies are often either owned or under contract with a media conglomerate, film studio, entertainment company, or Motion Picture Company, who act as the production company's partner or parent company. This has become known as the "studio system". They can also be mainstream independent (see Lucasfilms) or completely independent (see Lionsgate). In the case of TV, a TV production company would serve under a television network. Production companies can work together in co-productions.

Another example of a production company would be Blue Sky Studios, which produced such films as the Ice Age series, Rio, and Horton Hears A Who. They've been owned by 20th Century Fox since 1997.

A production studio that's a subsidiary of a larger studio may specialize in producing certain types of films. In the case of Blue Sky Studios, they've exclusively produced CG animated films for 20th Century Fox. However, Fox also has Fox Searchlight, which specializes in independent and foreign/foreign language films (they're the US distributor for 12 Years A Slave). Others are more independent, like Twisted Pictures, best known for the Saw franchise. They've released films with the help of both Lionsgate and Universal.

So basically, the other studios you see listed are likely owned by the larger studio, but have their own managers and staff (usually freelancers) who handle the production of certain movies. The larger studio usually acts as the distributor. Think of it as a way for the larger entity to hand tasks off to others within the same company, and the production company is basically a "department" of the main company. The CEO of a company doesn't handle absolutely everything from the various departments, and instead hires/appoints others to handle those tasks, all reporting back to him in some way.

Here's a nifty list of production studios, listed as subsidiary, non-subsidiary, or defunct.

Long story short: welcome to the crazy world of the studio system.

share|improve this answer
2  
Thanks for your answer! But why are these sub companies created then? For just a "department" seems seems like a bit too much overhead. Does this help with management? Legal reasons? –  floele Mar 19 at 21:08
    
@floele I originally had a longer comment here, but I've added the comment info into a more detailed explanation in the main answer. –  MattD Mar 19 at 21:28
3  
This is a business decision - Why does any company create a subsidiary? To shield losses from the parent, of course! Limited liability, a whole host of reasons. –  wbogacz Mar 19 at 21:30
    
OK, it's getting more clear now. So basically the large studios spawn smaller ones for liability reasons (though is that really the only reason?), which then take on a limited range of movie types/genres. Or alternatively, smaller studios come to larger ones for resources, providing the idea (that would be what Napoleon Wilson indicated, are there more examples for that?). –  floele Mar 20 at 19:15
    
@floele Pretty much. Liability isn't necessarily the only reason, but it's probably the biggest one. It could be they want a dedicated group of people to be able to focus on specific projects. There are also plenty of smaller studios that tend to go to bigger ones for distribution, but that would constitute making a list as an answer. Further, so many studios can tie into one another in some way that it would be too large to provide an absolutely thorough answer here. You can find more details on individual production studios in the last link of my answer. –  MattD Mar 20 at 19:48

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.