4 minutes read
“Hollywood is made here”
In 1907, four Polish immigrant brothers created their film distribution company. Warner Brothers Studio became one of the “Big Five” of American cinema but do you know all its secrets? Step on his legendary backlot to reveal 10 incredible stories.
Name your genre – historical, contemporary, science fiction, or more – to find costumes in the 60,000 square foot warehouse. Room temperature and lightnings are adjusted to preserve this extensive wardrobe. Besides, more than 23,000 historic pieces, have been conserved within the archive department. This famous collection can be loaned, rented, displayed in Stage 48 or at WB museum.
Paris or New York trompe l’oeil?
Jump from France to America with French Street and New York Street.
The French street is an exterior European set. Throwback to France with a Parisian alley and a French cafe style. Oui Oui!
Featured in: Casablanca (Café Paris), Friends, Big Bang Theory (Sheldon and Leonard’s building entrance), and La La Land.
Built-in 1920, New York street is the oldest set on the Studio.
Filmed there: The Mask, Blade Runner, Lois, and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Daily Planet)
When the exterior sets are not used for movies, they are left as “ordinary”, blank from any reference. Hence, any geographic location or period reference is removed.
The “Antique Alley”, the largest antique collection in Los Angeles
The 247,000 square foot, and four floors building gathered the largest furnishing and accessories collection in Hollywood. The Warner Brothers collected original antiques through the years, especially in Europe. The large and wide collection includes paintings, lightnings, porcelain, samurai armor, etc. The different pieces can be rented by other studios or industries (see the holding tag on the picture below).
A Jungle in Hollywood
Built-in 1956 for the movie Santiago, it’s the only remaining jungle set in Hollywood. The green area includes a barn, a cabin, bush wagons, and an empty lagoon. The latest can be filled in 8 hours for filming and contains 270,000 gallons of water.
Featured in: Million Dollars Baby (the last scene with Clint Eastwood), Jurassic Parc (T Rex chase), The Last Samurai (Katsumoto’s rescue scene), Annabelle, Aquaman, True Blood, Hart of Dixie, Pretty Little Liars, Fantasy Island, and The Great Race to name a few.
Stage 16, the “ocean with a roof”
Stage 16, the “ocean with a roof” was built in 1935. It includes one of the largest subterranean water tanks in the movie industry (more than 2.2 million gallons of water). The world’s tallest soundstage contains a removable floor for sea scenes.
Filmed there: Dunkirk, Poseidon, Inception, Ocean’s 13, Casablanca, Rebel without a cause, Batman Forever, and Jurassic Park to name a few.
Welcome to 1920s New York City. Built-in 1930s, this area was named after production designer Dale Hennesy (he renovated it in 1980 for the movie Annie). This set was remodeled several times to represent the future for Minority Report or New York in Spiderman. For the anecdote, the upside-down kiss scene between Spiderman and Mary Jane (played by Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst) was difficult to shoot. Tobey was hanging upside down for the scene and he was wearing nose plugs due to the raining effect.
Featured in Spiderman, Annie, Road to Perdition, Lethal Weapon 2 and Gotham City (Three Batman including Batman returns).
Sitcoms: behind the scene
Friends is probably the world’s favorite sitcom. Some key data will turn on your head: 10 seasons, 236 episodes, 50 countries, 52.5 million American viewers for the last episode in June 2004, and more than $1 billion yearly revenue for WB today!
Friends was shot entirely on Stage 24 except for a few scenes filmed in Malibu, New York, and London. Indeed, both interior and exterior scenes can be filmed inside one of the seven audience stages. These stages are 90% soundproof and red light is flashing when they shoot.
Big Bang Theory is one of the last WB sitcoms hit. For the first episodes, the studio paid spectators for their live audience (and obviously it was really difficult to book tickets when the show became popular). Like other sitcoms, writers were on set to rewrite scenes if the public was not laughing (enough) at jokes.
The ranch is a 32-acre lot acquired in 1972 from Columbia Pictures. One of the most memorable exterior set designs is the central fountain from the TV show Friends (opening sequence). Also, the ranch includes homes featured in Wanda Vision, American Beauty and Lethal Weapon.
Rin Tin Tin, the first canine movie stars
The dog Rin Tin Tin was the first canine movie star for Warner Bros. Studios. During WWI, American soldier Lee Duncan found German Shepherd puppies in Lorraine, France. He brought back one of them and named him Rin Tin Tin. The dog won canine competitions before starting a career in Hollywood. He appeared in 26 movies for WB and rescued them from bankruptcy.
The Jazz Singer, the 1st “talkie” movie in the world
In 1927, The Jazz Singer revolutionized the movie industry introducing synchronized singing, and dialogue.
The Warner Brothers decided to keep the improvised dialogues scenes from the original musical film. The few minutes of dialogue amazed the audience, it was a box-office success! The era of silent-films was over, studios and theaters converted quickly to sound systems. The Jazz Singer won the Honorary Academy Award in 1929.
Article based on my visits from 2013 to 2018
*COVD-19 update as of May 2021*
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour is temporarily closed
- Please wear a mask and respect physical distancing by 6 feet.
- Please check L.A County’s health and safety protocols before your visit
- Location: 3400 W Warner Dr, Burbank, CA 91505
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily. Closed on Christmas Day.
- Admission: from $69 to $295 according to the tour package
- Duration: from 3 to 6 hours according to the tour package
- Parking: on-site lot ($15) or unmetered street parking
- More information available at https://www.wbstudiotour.com/
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