BURBANK – A new exhibition on the history of Warner Bros. has debuted to celebrate the centennial of the Warner brand. The exhibition features Warner Bros.’s “impact on storytelling” from Casablanca to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The tour is not only about movies; one of the more popular attractions is the Friends set.
Warner Brothers established their tour department in 1973, the year the studio released The Exorcist, Cleopatra Jones, and Enter The Dragon. At first, only seven employees ran the operation, including answering the phone, operating the ticket register and performing tours.
Today, the tour is not only associated with having the only building standing that was in Casablanca, but includes sites from Gilmore Girls, The Music Man, The Big Bang Theory, Gremlins, Argo, and The West Wing.
The tour opened April 5, exactly 100 years and a day after the incorporation of the studio by the Warner brothers, with Harry as company president, Albert as treasurer and Jack and Sam as producers. Their first big hit was The Gold Diggers.
Tour for Buffs
The tour was and known to be the one to go on if you actually wanted to learn and see the particulars of movies and production in L.A., and not just hope to see a film star.
Charles Moore’s 1983 Los Angeles: The City Observed, wrote that early on, the tour made “every effort” to head straight for where movies were being made on the set. The first tours were limited to 15 people, and priced at $16.50 in 1983, a very high price. Moore said the the tour “introduces you to production people and makes you feel rather like a big time producer who’s thinking about renting space here for his next film.”
The U.S. tour operation came after Warner Brothers opened their studio to tours near London in Leavesden. Hertfordshire. Today, that studio takes more of a Harry Potter focus, as the studio was a site of filming the J.K. Rowling series for a decade.
Brand Writ Large
The studio tour is not only a promotion for movies old and new. The movies themselves show a bird’s eye view of the sound stages as part of the Warner Brothers logo at the beginning of movies.
Originally, there were only about 50 guests a day, but it has grown into one of the key Los Angeles attractions. Movie buffs like the tour as it provides the real location for many actual shows, and is large, around 110 acres.
Over the years, the tour has been seen actual movies and TV shows, including Blazing Saddles, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Gossip Girl, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Teen Titans Go to The Movies, Entourage, Animaniacs, The Rookie, Grease LIVE, Famous in Love, Ellen, and more.
The tour is also one of the California visitor locations associated with President Ronald Reagan, who began work at the studio in 1937. Reagan filmed 40 movies for Warner Bros.; his last for the company was The Winning Team in 1952.
About the Tour
There are four different tours, including the Studio Tour, Classics Made Here Tour, Studio Tour Plus, and a Deluxe Tour. The deluxe is truly that; it includes an additional hour more than the standard two-hour studio tour. It promises “knowledgable guides” that will take visitors to the Property Department, let them experience in the Commissary Fine Dining Room, and enjoy a beverage and snack at Central Perk Café.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with studio tours every half hour. Tickets and information at wbstudiotour.com or call 1-818-977-8687.