Sony / MGM History

Harry Culver’s dream to establish his own thriving community and cultivate his interest in the budding movie industry came true when he chose a piece of land halfway between downtown Los Angeles and the sea. He established an office for Culver Investments on a fledgeling Main Street.
Soon afterwards, he was watching movie producer Thomas Ince filming a western on the banks of Ballona Creek, in the Playa del Rey area nowadays, and was inspired to persuade him to move his studio from the beach to Washington Blvd. Culver City was born.

Thomas Ince moves his Inceville Studios from the Santa Monica hills to Culver City to form Triangle Pictures. One of the first construction projects is a mock-Greek colonnade which was the entrance to Triangle Pictures, and is still visible at the edge of Sony Pictures property today.

The Triangle Pictures studio at Culver City becomes the home of MGM.

MGM is on the brink of bankruptcy, and as a last ditch attempt, turned to the religious epic Ben-Hur to save it.

March 13 – A fire destroys a portion of the MGM Backlot #2. In an eerie echo of a fire at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2008, the blaze began in a chapel at the end of Brownstone Street.

Kirk Kerkorian starts buying shares in the ailing MGM Studio.

MGM auctions off thousands of props, costumes in a bid to raise funds for the Las Vegas project.

  • A large quantity of props and costumes are bought by Debbie Reynolds – she had a dream of opening a museum in Hollywood to preserve the items.
    Unfortunately many items were auctioned off in 2011 due to lack of funds to proceed with the project.
    More information about the auction 
  • The Cotton Blossom riverboat (considered to be the largest prop ever constructed for a motion picture – 171 ft long and 57 ft high) is auctioned off.
  • locomotive is also auctioned off. However, it was bought by Old Tucson Studios who saw value in it continuing as a movie ‘prop’.
    In October 1970 the locomotive arrived at Old Tucson Studios where it remains.
    More information about the locomotive 

More importantly historically, Lot #2 and Lot #3 are sold off to developers. (More about the MGM Backlots)

MGM, now under the control of Kirk Kerkorian, announces intention to start construction on the MGM Grand Hotel resort & casino.

Groundbreaking ceremony for the MGM Grand Hotel, a $107 million mega resort.

December 5 – MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas opens.

Late 1970s
The studio property (especially the backlots) was in a horrendous state of decay.
See separate photos. 

Some believe this is because Kirk Kerkorian, the new owner of MGM was focussing his attention on property development (resort hotels) in Las Vegas and not on maintaining the movie-based property.

November 21 – A massive fire in the MGM Grand Hotel causes the death of 85 people.
Authorities in charge when the building opened relaxed fire codes due to the fact that all parts of the hotel were occupied 24 hours a day, so any fire would be quickly spotted and contained. 7 years after opening, the Deli Restaurant had changed to only being open during the day. The fire had been raging for some time before it was spotted.

1981 – July
The MGM Grand Hotel reopened following the fire.

The MGM Grand Hotels in Las Vegas and Reno were sold to Bally Manufacturing Corp for $594 million.

MGM vacates the historic Culver City lot and it is taken over by Lorimar Telepictures. MGM rents office space in the Filmland building (now Sony Pictures headquarters).

The lot is bought by Sony , determined to resurrect the site as a major production center.

MGM moves out of the Filmland building to MGM Plaza, a city block of offices in Santa Monica. Although there are no production facilities on site, MGM continues to make movies by renting studio facilities all over the world.

The current MGM Grand Hotel opened in Las Vegas.

Kirk Kerkorian repurchases MGM/UA

MGM Corporation moves again from Santa Monica to new headquarters building in Century City. The 35-story skyscraper at 10250 Constellation Blvd behind the Century Plaza Hotel.

2004, September
MGM is purchased by Sony, in a move designed to enable Sony to capitalise on the MGM Film Library.

MGM moved into a new office building in Beverly Hills. The offices at 235-269 N. Beverly Drive were originally built for the William Morris Agency.