Hollywood-on-Thames: The British productions of Warner Bros. – First National, 1931-1945




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Taylor and Francis



Peer reviewed



A few years after Warner Bros pioneered sound cinema, the company established a production base at Teddington in England to enable it, in the face of protectionist legislation, to maintain distribution in its most lucrative foreign market. The records of that operation have remained largely unexplored since the end of World War Two. This article uses them, in conjunction with contemporary reports in the trade press, to explore these first steps in the globalization of Hollywood production. It highlights cultural differences and policy clashes, often through the lens of the correspondence between Burbank Studio Head, Jack Warner, and the executive put in charge of the Teddington studios, Irving Asher. This correspondence proves vital to understanding the competing corporate visions of American overseas production in the 1930s, and its analysis ultimately demonstrates that business in Hollywood, far from dispassionate, is actually a highly personal affair. The article also pays particular attention to the economics of the British operation and, for the first time, reveals financial data relating to production costs and rental receipts from the Teddington ledger. Only when Britain and the USA finally became allies in the fight against Nazi Germany did Warner Bros make a total commitment to its English studio, which momentarily enjoyed financial success until a Nazi rocket put paid to its productions for the duration of the war.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Warner Bros., Hollywood, Teddington Studios, British Cinema, Film production, 1930s


Chibnall, S. (2019) Hollywood-on-Thames: The British productions of Warner Bros. – First National, 1931-1945. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 39 (4), pp. 687-724


Research Institute

Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI)