The early 20th century allowed for the growth to many infantile industries and it can be argued that the film industry was one of the most important. The spectacle of silent films captivated and entertained audiences throughout the country. As the presence of movie theaters increased, the movie star was born. Hollywood film producers and distributers, aware of how profitable the movie industry could become, began to tighten their control on actor salaries and the creative process. Several of the 20th century’s most well-known actors would band together to try and fight these changes.
On this date, February 5th, in 1919, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith formed the United Artists Corporation film studio. Unfortunately, the film studio was formed during a time when movies were becoming increasingly expensive to produce and distribute, which led to financial difficulties from the beginning. Despite difficult circumstances, United Artists was still able to produce films and open theaters under the United Artists name. By the 1930s, United Artists had a presence in over 40 counties. In 1951, operations of United Artists was taken over by two lawyers and would eventually go public in 1956.
In the early 21st century, United Artists went through several changes in ownership, including being purchased by MGM and later being acquired by Sony in 2005. It was then bought by actor Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.