The studio turns 90 in 2009 and is celebrating with a huge
campaign of tours and promotions, including a humongous 90-film DVD
collection that will be released on December 11th and has a suggested retail
price of $869.98 (although it’s already easy to find for much less). The collection weighs 30 pounds.
United Artists was founded in 1919 by silent film legends
Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, and pioneering director
D.W. Griffith. Today, UA is run by Tom
Cruise and Paula Wagner. The longtime
partners had their own production company within Paramount Pictures until last
year, when Cruise was unceremoniously ousted by Paramount owner Sumner Redstone
(something about Oprah and a couch). The
first release under Cruise and Wagner’s auspices is Lions for Lambs, which comes out November 9th.
The massive collection is heavy on quality but oddly curated, with Westerns keeping company with James Bond films – and Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang.
Highlights include The Pink
Panther, Marty, The Manchurian Candidate, Midnight Cowboy, Raging Bull and
Annie Hall. There aren’t many losers in
the bunch, although most if not all of these films are already available for
In a recent interview, Wagner talked about UA’s
"brand," something studios aren’t really known for anymore: when was the last
time you went to a film because it was a Fox or an MGM production? Wagner told Worldscreen.com, "The new
United Artists is committed to making a wide range of movies, from big
franchise pictures to more personal, story-driven films. If there’s a common
denominator, it’s filmmaker-driven projects that reflect the UA legacy…I
like to think that we extend enormous creative freedom to the artists with whom
we work. This is UA’s historical legacy and it’s what we’re all about today."