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Castle Films 

 

                        

 

In 1936, when most distributors saw 16 mm films only as a rental market, Castle realized the potential in the 

16 mm home market & the ownership of films by collectors market. His first two releases were

 

                

  "THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE" and "THE  HINDENBERG  DISASTER".

 

 Till the early 1940's Scenics, reality shorts & Terrytoon cartoons made up the bulk of Castle's sales. You could   buy a  3 minute "Star Spangled Banner" recorded on 16 mm film with patriotic scenes in the background for $2.75. Castle was famous for his yearly  News Parades from 1937 to 1975, he narrated some of the newsreel shorts himself. Castle Films were sold in 16 & 8 mm, silent & sound versions in all the major department stores, toy stores, camera shops etc.  By the middle 40's a one reel Castle sound short cost $17.50 in 16 mm, & $5.50 in 8 mm.   

 

                                                                

                                                 

                                          BOY MEETS DOG

   

In 1938, Walter Lantz produces a Technicolor cartoon called Boy Meets Dog (based on the comic strip "Reg'lar Fellers"). This was a soft-sell commercial for Bristol-Myers' Ipana toothpaste. Bristol-Myers planned to give theaters 50 cents a seat to run the cartoon, but something happened, and the deal with Lantz fell through. Castle bought the cartoon (removing two plugs for Ipana) and releases it for the home market in black & white in 1940. It was never released theatrically by Universal, and is in Public domain

 

                                               

 

Castle offered the earliest color films for sale in 16 mm with the UB Iwerks  library of cartoons in the original stunning Cine-Color process in 1941 (See 1940's page). He made a lucrative deal to sell Soundies in 1944 under the name 'Castle Music Albums'. When Official Films got the rights to sell the soundies  in 1946,  Castle countered by compiling "Music Albums" of segments taken from Universal's musicals.  These "Albums" proved to be an even bigger windfall for Castle  than "Soundies."

 

                                

 

 In December of 1946  Eugene Castle sells 75 percent interest in the company to United World Films, for $2.25 million. At the time, Castle Films had a gross annual income of about $130 million. United World Films is absorbed by Universal in 1947. Universal, in 1949, adds condensations of their comedy films, including Abbott & Costello, W.C. Fields, their extensive Western collection including Tom Mix & Hopalong Cassidy films and their entire cartoon collection to the Castle catalog of films. In 1949 Castle Films also released 9 Walter Lantz cartoons in the stunning Technicolor process, but the cost in printing was too high and was abandoned in 1951 for the cheaper Eastman color.  The Abbott and Costello condensations became so popular that in late 1951 Bud and Lou filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Universal and Castle Films. One year later, the suit was settled out of court.

 

                                                 

1n 1959 Castle starts selling condensations of their horror films, beginning with Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. During the 1960's the horror & science fiction shorts had become Castle's headline attractions. In 1971 prices range from from $2.25 for 8mm silent "Headliners",  Super 8 "Complete" shorts,  for $6.95 to $29.95 for 16mm with optical sound. Universal operates Castle Films under their United World Films umbrella  till 1976 and then renames it Universal  8 & 16. Selling 8 & 16mm  20 min. condensations of much later films like Airport, Smokey and the Bandit, Rooster Cogburn, and Jesus Christ Superstar. By 1984 with the Video Tape revolution well underway Universal 8 had disappeared.

 

                                    

 

 

   

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