The Ladd Company
|Founder||Alan Ladd Jr., Jay Kanter, and Gareth Wigan|
The Ladd Company was an American film production company founded by Alan Ladd Jr., Jay Kanter, and Gareth Wigan in 1979.
In 1979, the three founders were executives with 20th Century Fox; Ladd was the president. They announced their intention to leave the company when their contracts expired in December 1980 and form a new production company to be financed by Warner Bros. (Ladd had reportedly been quarreling with other Fox senior executives.) Fox subsequently cut their contracts short, ending on October 1, 1979. The day after the contracts expired, the trio placed ads for the newly named "Ladd Company" in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
Under Warner Bros., The Ladd Company distributed Chariots of Fire, which won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Picture. Among the films it produced were the Space Race epic The Right Stuff, the space western Outland, Ridley Scott's science-fiction cult film Blade Runner, neo-noir film Body Heat, and the first two Police Academy movies.
Police Academy proved very profitable. But the returns from the company's successes did not outweigh the box-office failures of The Right Stuff, the edited version of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, and the animated Twice Upon a Time (co-produced with Lucasfilm). On April 18, 1984, Alan Ladd Jr. and Warner Bros. parted ways, even though the former still had three years left on the studio's contract. From that point on, "the Ladd Company [would] become a non-exclusive production organization."
Alan Ladd had been a successful studio head of 20th Century Fox, helping make films such as Star Wars, Julia, Alien, The Turning Point, Young Frankenstein, An Unmarried Woman and Silver Streak. He ran into conflict with the company's president, Dennis Stanfill and wanted to leave. He left the company in June 1979 to set up his own company along with fellow executives Jay Kanter and Gareth Wigan. Under the terms of their severance with Fox, they were not allowed to start working until 1 October 1979.
The company was known as The Ladd Company and its symbol was a tree. "You could say it has a tie in with the tree of life," said Ladd. They signed a deal with Warner Bros who would finance and distribute their films, although the Ladd Company had creative control. Warners would finance at least $75 million a year.
Ladd said he wanted to make "basically what I made at Fox. I don't think my attitude has changed. Those pictures went all over the place. There wasn't any specific theme to them." Even films like Alien and The Omen which he admits were "exploitation pictures, I think we tried to do it with more quality and style than just ripping off a theme."
In November 1979 Ladd announced the company's first films: a Bette Midler concert movie (Ladd greenlit Midler's The Rose while at Fox) and Madonna Red a $10 million Joseph L. Mankiewicz film starring Paul Newman as a Vietnam War veteran turned priest. Then they announced Five Days in Summer from Fred Zinnemann who had made Julia, and Twice Upon a Time a $3 million film from Lucasfilm.
The Midler film became Divine Madness (1980) but Madonna Red was never made. The first dramatic film the company ended making was Outland (1981), a science fiction film in the vein of Alien shot in England under Sandy Lieberson, the company's head of European operations. It was a commercial disappointment when released.
The Ladd Company's second film was going to be a Bernardo Bertolucci film starring Ugo Tognazzi. This was never made. However the company had a critical and commercial hit with Body Heat (1981) the directorial debut of Lawrence Kasdan, then with Chariots of Fire (1981), a British film the company helped finance.
Looker (1981) from Michael Crichton was a flop. The company helped make Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott, which was a cult classic years after its theatrical release, but under performed critically and commercially. Night Shift (1982), directed by Ron Howard, was a minor success.
Series of flops
The Ladd Company, a director-friendly bunch, went down with The Right Stuff. Execs look very closely at what causes other companies to retire from the field. The levels of caution multiply.
The company had a huge hit with Police Academy (1984), made for $4.2 million which grossed $81 million and led to several sequels. Less successful were Purple Hearts (1984) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984) which the company extensively edited without the cooperation of Sergio Leone.
End of company
The success of Police Academy came too late to save the company. In April 1984 Warners announced its association with the Ladd Company was over and Ladd became a nonexclusive production organization.
By July 1984 the New York Times wrote that,
- In essence, the Ladd Company no longer exists; although the label still exists, most of its executives have left. The company failed partly as a result of the dismal box-office record of many of its interesting, intelligent movies, including The Right Stuff, and partly because new management at Warner Brothers, which financed and distributed Ladd Company films, did not care to nurture the smaller movie company.
List of films
|Divine Madness!||September 26, 1980||Warner Bros.|
|Chariots of Fire||May 15, 1981||Warner Bros. (Domestic) / 20th Century Fox (International)||Domestic distribution in association with Warner Bros. only|
|Outland||May 22, 1981||Warner Bros.|
|Body Heat||August 28, 1981||Warner Bros.|
|Looker||October 30, 1981||Warner Bros.|
|Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man||February 12, 1982||Warner Bros.||U.S. Distribution only, Subtitled version of an Italian Film|
|Blade Runner||June 25, 1982||Warner Bros.||Co-production with Shaw Brothers Studio and Blade Runner Partnership.|
|Night Shift||July 30, 1982||Warner Bros.|
|Love Child||October 15, 1982||Warner Bros.|
|Five Days One Summer||November 12, 1982||Warner Bros.|
|Lovesick||February 18, 1983||Warner Bros.|
|Twice Upon a Time||August 5, 1983||Warner Bros.|
|The Right Stuff||October 21, 1983||Warner Bros.||Limited release in October 1983, wide release in 1984.|
|Star 80||November 10, 1983||Warner Bros.|
|Mike's Murder||March 9, 1984||Warner Bros.|
|Police Academy||March 22, 1984||Warner Bros.|
|Purple Hearts||March 30, 1984||Warner Bros.|
|Once Upon a Time in America||June 1, 1984||Warner Bros.|
|Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment||March 29, 1985||Warner Bros.||First Ladd Company film not to have the company's logo screen at the beginning of the film.|
|Doin' Time||May 19, 1985||Warner Bros.||Final Ladd Company picture released by Warner Bros.|
|The Brady Bunch Movie||February 17, 1995||Paramount Pictures||First Ladd Company picture since 1985 and the first released by Paramount|
|Braveheart||May 24, 1995||Paramount Pictures (Domestic) / 20th Century Fox (International)||Co-production with Icon Productions|
|The Phantom||June 7, 1996||Paramount Pictures||Co-production with Village Roadshow Pictures|
|A Very Brady Sequel||August 23, 1996||Paramount Pictures|
|An Unfinished Life||September 9, 2005||Miramax Films||Co-production with Revolution Studios|
|Gone Baby Gone||October 19, 2007||Miramax Films|
- Thomas, Bob. "Studio 'revolution' treat for gossips". Edmonton Journal (August 18, 1979).
- Schreger, Charles. "New Film Company Born of Frustration". Sarasota Herald-Tribune (October 19, 1979)
- Chariots of Fire Wins Best Picture: 1982-Oscars on YouTube
- Associated Press. "Ladd, Warner Bros. dissolve agreement". St. Joseph News-Press (April 20, 1984).
- Warner Bros. Settles Alan Ladd, Jr. Profits Lawsuit (Exclusive)|Hollywood Reporter
- Alan Ladd Jr. - Biography -IMDb
- BUSINESS PEOPLE New York Times 12 Oct 1979: D2.
- In Movieland, Three's a Company: Pace Is Slow at Ladd Co. SCHREGER, CHARLES. Los Angeles Times 10 Oct 1979: g1.
- Sweeney, Louise (7 February 1980). "Studio boss who called it quits". The Christian Science Monitor.
- Ladd Films to Star Midler and Newman By ALJEAN HARMETZ New York Times 2 Nov 1979: C5.
- At the Movies: Stallone unveils a Switzerland of personalities. Buckley, Tom. New York Times 18 Jan 1980: C8.
- Star Wars' Team Plans Mythical Animated Film By ALJEAN HARMETZ New York Times 1 Apr 1980: C9.
- Champlin, Charles (8 June 1980). "BY JUPITER, THE LADD CO. TAKES FLIGHT". Los Angeles Times. p. q3.
- SOMETIMES A MOVIE MAKES A STUDIO PROUD ALJEAN HARMETZ New York Times 6 Feb 1982: 1.11.
- MOGULS TAKE TO THE SLOPES FOR DEALS HARMETZ, ALJEAN. New York Times 7 Mar 1984: C.17.
- The rise and fall of Hollywood Gross, Larry. The Ottawa Citizen 19 Apr 1999: B10
- AT THE MOVIES Maslin, Janet. New York Times 9 Mar 1984: C.8.
- IN LIFE AS ON SCREEN, STRUGGLE DEFINES TWO ACTRESSES:  Lindsey, Robert. New York Times 16 Sep 1984: A.19.
- Auteur Opie McCarthy, Todd. Film Comment; New York Vol. 20, Iss. 3, (May/Jun 1984): 40-42,80.
- Thomas, Bob (11 January 1985). "IF YOU ENJOYED 'POLICE ACADEMY,' GET READY FOR ANOTHER". Chicago Tribune. p. E.
- Warner Severs Tie With Ladd Warner Communications New York Times 19 Apr 1984: D.5.
- REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: FILM INDUSTRY THRIVES HARMETZ, ALJEAN. New York Times 16 July 1984: C.12.
- KANTOR CHOSEN TO HEAD MGM/UA PRODUCTION HARMETZ, ALJEAN. New York Times 18 July 1984: C.21.
- LA CLIPS Same old faces on two film sets Deans, Laurie. The Globe and Mail1 Feb 1985: E.7.