Filmways, Inc.
Industry Motion pictures, television programs
Fate Acquired by Orion Pictures & renamed to Orion TV Productions
Founded 1952
Defunct 1983
Headquarters Sonoma County, California
Key people
Martin Ransohoff, Edwin Kasper, Rodney Erickson

Filmways, Inc. (also known as Filmways Pictures and Filmways Television) was a television and film production company founded by American film executive Martin Ransohoff and Edwin Kasper in 1952.[1] It is probably best remembered as the production company of CBS’ “rural comedies” of the 1960s, including Mister Ed, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres, as well as the comedy-drama The Trials of O'Brien, the western Dundee and the Culhane, the adventure show Bearcats!, the police drama Cagney & Lacey, and The Addams Family. Notable films the company produced include The Sandpiper, The Cincinnati Kid, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Ice Station Zebra, Summer Lovers, The Burning, King and Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill and Blow Out.

Filmways acquired famous companies throughout the years, such as Heatter-Quigley Productions, Ruby-Spears Productions and American International Pictures. It was also the owner of the film distributor Sigma III Corporation (Closely Watched Trains, Hi, Mom!).


Filmways was formed by Martin Ransohoff and Edwin Kasper in 1952, who would part with Filmways 5 years later. In 1966, The company acquired Heatter-Quigley Productions, the game show producers known for their biggest hit, Hollywood Squares. In 1969, it bought Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma County, California, outside of San Francisco.[2] In 1972, Ransohoff left Filmways as president.

In 1974, it acquired book publisher Grosset & Dunlap from American Financial Group. In May 1975, it bought television syndication firm Rhodes Productions from Taft Broadcasting. In 1978, it acquired Ruby-Spears Productions, which had launched a year earlier. In 1979, after Arkoff's retirement, Filmways purchased American International Pictures. Their TV subsidiary, AITV, became Filmways' new syndication division in 1980, spinning off Rhodes into an independent corporation.

Filmways had lost nearly $20 million during the nine months ending in November 1981. However, it partially exited bankruptcy by selling few of its previously acquired assets. In 1981, Ruby-Spears Productions was sold to Taft Broadcasting and Sears Point Raceway was sold to Speedway Motorsports. In 1982, Grosset & Dunlap was sold to G. P. Putnam's Sons.

In 1982, Filmways was acquired by Orion Pictures (with E. M. Warburg Pincus & Company and Home Box Office for its pay and cable television rights). Filmways was then renamed as Orion TV Productions, Inc. on August 31, 1982.[3]

Announcements at the end of productions

Filmways first logo (1958-1973), in color

Most productions ended with the announcement, “This has been a Filmways presentation”. For some shows, the voice-over was made by a cast member:

Ownership of film, television properties

Today, most of the Filmways library, including Green Acres, The Addams Family, Cagney & Lacey (continued by Orion), Death Wish II (a Cannon film), The Hollywood Squares, and Mister Ed is owned by MGM (successor-in-interest to Orion which it purchased in 1998, and also owners of the Cannon Films library prior to 1988) until Orion Pictures was quietly relaunched by MGM on September 11, 2014.

CBS holds distribution rights to The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction. Viacom (the parent of CBS from 1999-2005, actually started as CBS’ syndication arm) syndicated these two programs since the 1970s. In the case of Hillbillies, Orion Television (now an in-name-only unit of MGM) still owns the copyrights to the episodes, excluding episodes from the first season and the first half of the second season, which have fallen into the public domain. However, any new compilation of Hillbillies material will be copyrighted by either MPI Media Group or CBS, depending on the series content.

Filmways co-produced Eye Guess, The Face Is Familiar, Personality, and You're Putting Me On with Bob Stewart Productions. Those four game shows are currently owned by Sony Pictures Television (SPT). SPT co-distributed the MGM library for a short time.

Almost all movies Filmways co-produced with major studios have remained with the studios they were released by; 10 Rillington Place is owned by Columbia Pictures, Save the Tiger is owned by Paramount Pictures, Two-Minute Warning, is owned by Universal Studios, and so forth. Most of the foreign-language films released by their Sigma III division have reverted to their original producers, but a small number of English-language films Sigma III handled such as Cul-de-sac and Hi, Mom! were retained by Filmways and are now owned by MGM.

Television series

Title Years Network Notes
21 Beacon Street 1959 NBC
Mister Ed 1961-66 Syndication/CBS
The Beverly Hillbillies 1962-71 CBS
Petticoat Junction 1963-70 CBS
The Addams Family 1964-66 ABC
Green Acres 1965-71 CBS
The Trials of O'Brien 1965-66 CBS
Eye Guess 1966-69 NBC co-production with Bob Stewart Productions
The Double Life of Henry Phyfe 1966 ABC
The Face Is Familiar 1966 CBS co-production with Bob Stewart Productions
The Pruitts of Southampton 1966-67 ABC
Personality 1967-69 NBC
Dundee and the Culhane 1967 CBS
The Debbie Reynolds Show 1969-70 NBC
Bearcats! 1971 CBS
Ozzie's Girls 1973-1974 Syndication
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman 1976-77 Syndication produced by T.A.T. Communications Company
Big Hawaii 1977 NBC
King 1978 NBC
240-Robert 1979-81 ABC
Thundarr the Barbarian 1980-82 ABC (1980-82)/NBC (1983) co-production with Ruby-Spears
Cagney & Lacey 1982-88 CBS continued by Orion Television

Feature films

Release Date Title Notes
November 14, 1963 The Wheeler Dealers distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
September 17, 1964 Topkapi distributed by United Artists
October 27, 1964 The Americanization of Emily distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
June 23, 1965 The Sandpiper distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
October 11, 1965 The Loved One distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
October 15, 1965 The Cincinnati Kid distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
1967 Too Many Thieves distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
June 20, 1967 Don't Make Waves distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
November 13, 1967 The Fearless Vampire Killers distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
December 6, 1967 Eye of the Devil distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
October 23, 1968 Ice Station Zebra distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
November 17, 1968 Journey to Jerusalem distributed by Sigma III
February 9, 1969 A Midsummer Night's Dream television film
July 23, 1969 Castle Keep distributed by Columbia Pictures
December 21, 1969 Hamlet distributed by Columbia Pictures
July 1970 The Moonshine War distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
May 12, 1971 10 Rillington Place distributed by Columbia Pictures
June 30, 1971 What's the Matter with Helen? distributed by United Artists
September 2, 1971 See No Evil distributed by Columbia Pictures
November 22, 1971 King Lear distributed by Altura Films
July 14, 1972 Fuzz distributed by United Artists
February 14, 1973 Save the Tiger distributed by Paramount Pictures
July 21, 1974 The White Dawn distributed by Paramount Pictures
November 14, 1975 The Other Side of the Mountain distributed by Universal Pictures
November 7, 1976 21 Hours at Munich television film
November 12, 1976 Two-Minute Warning distributed by Universal Pictures
February 10, 1978 The Other Side of the Mountain Part 2 distributed by Universal Pictures
July 24, 1980 The Earthling
July 25, 1980 Dressed to Kill
October 3, 1980 The First Deadly Sin
May 8, 1981 The Burning produced by Miramax Films
July 24, 1981 Blow Out
October 9, 1981 Full Moon High
December 11, 1981 Four Friends
February 20, 1982 Death Wish II US distribution; produced by The Cannon Group, Inc.
July 16, 1982 Summer Lovers


External links

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