Hal Roach Studios

Hal Roach Studios was an American motion picture and television production studio. Known as The Laugh Factory to the World, the studio was founded by producer Hal Roach and business partners Dan Linthicum and I.H. Nance as the Rolin Film Company on July 23, 1914.[1][2] The studio lot, located at 8822 Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California, United States, was built in 1920, at which time Rolin was renamed to Hal E. Roach Studios.

Hal Roach Studios
FateAbsorbed into Sonar Entertainment
FoundedJuly 23, 1914 (1914-07-23)
ProductsTV shows
Theatrical feature films
TV movies
Theatrical short films
ParentQuintex Australia Ltd./RHI Entertainment/Sonar Entertainment (1988-present)


Roach saw significant success in the 1920s with series of short comedy films featuring stars such as Harold Lloyd, Snub Pollard, and the Our Gang kids.[2] The studio produced both short films and features for distribution through Pathé Exchange until 1927, when they signed a new distribution deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[3] By the early 1930s, Hal Roach Studios had entered a golden age, with a star line-up that included some of the most popular comedians around: Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chase, Our Gang, Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts.[2] As movie theaters began to favor double-feature bills over theater programs that featured added short films - the Roach studio's specialty - the production focus gradually shifted from short films to features such as Topper and Laurel & Hardy's Way Out West (both 1937).[4] In 1938, Hal Roach Studios began distributing its product through United Artists, selling the Our Gang short film unit to M-G-M.[2]

In the early 1940s, Roach began producing "streamliner" features - shorter films running 40 to 50 minutes intended for exhibition as B-movies.[5] With the boom of television in the 1950s, Hal Roach Studios shifted to all-TV production by 1955, producing TV programs such as Amos 'n' Andy and The Stu Erwin Show.[2]

In April 1959, the Hal Roach Studios was closed due to bankruptcy under the management of Hal Roach’s son Hal Roach, Jr.[6] Hal, Sr. returned to try and set the studio on a better course, but by December 1962, the studio was permanently closed.[6] In August 1963, the studio lot was demolished after several auctions and sales of the company’s assets.[6]

Hal Roach, Jr. died of pneumonia in 1972. Hal, Sr. sold his interest in Hal Roach Studios to a Canadian investment group in 1971; he died in 1992.[6] As a corporate entity, Hal Roach Studios survived into the 1980s managing the rights to its catalog, primarily the Laurel & Hardy films, and sporadic new productions such as Kids Incorporated.[7] The studio also became a pioneer in digital film colorization, purchasing a 50% interest in pioneering company Colorization, Inc.[8] Through Colorization, Inc., Hal Roach Studios produced colorized versions of classic black-and-white Roach films, with Topper and Way Out West being the first two, and became the first studio to distribute colorized films in 1985.[9][10][11] Roach's Colorization, Inc. also colorized films from other studios as well.[6] The company was gradually acquired from 1985 to 1988 by RHI Entertainment, today Sonar Entertainment.[12][13]


  1. Ward, Richard Lewis (2006-08-15). A History of the Hal Roach Studios. SIU Press. pp. 9–11, 39. ISBN 9780809388066.
  2. Maltin, Leonard; Bann, Richard W. (1992). The Little Rascals: The Life & Times of Our Gang (2nd ed.). New York: Crown Publishing/Three Rivers Press. pp. 1–3, 68.
  3. Ward, pp. 59-63.
  4. Ward, pp. 96-97.
  5. Ward, pp. 116-123.
  6. Ward, pp. 153-156.
  7. maltin & Bann, pp. 8.
  8. Edgerton, Gary R. (Winter 2000). "The Germans Wore Gray, You Wore Blue". Journal of Popular Film and Television. 27 (4): 24–32. doi:10.1080/01956050009602812.
  9. "Topper". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  10. Topper (Media notes). Hal Roach Studios Film Classics, Inc. 1985. It seems fitting that Topper should again be on the cutting edge of change, this time heralding the age of Colorization as the first completed Color version of a classic black and white motion picture.
  11. "Roach Enters Home Market". Billboard. April 13, 1985. Retrieved 2016-07-03.
  12. Delugach, Al (October 28, 1986). "Roach Studios to Buy Ray Stark's Production Unit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  13. "People: Nation". Los Angeles Times. July 23, 1986. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
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