This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.
Meatwad: Won't you ask that TV if he minds showing me some Futurama? I like me some Futurama. Master Shake: Well now we're too damn cheap to receive it, so go the hell over to Carl Central and watch it to your heart's content! Meatwad: Carl gets Futurama? Master Shake: He didn't even want it until we started watching it!
Television shows are usually not directly owned by a particular channel, although once they have a contract to air the show they often have some creative control of it. The only exception is first-run syndicated shows that are owned entirely by the production company and distributed to individual stations, regardless of their network affiliation. At other times a show might be owned and produced by a specific network but the rights to air it were bought out by another network. It's a complicated business where all that matters sometimes is the bottom line.
Just like sports teams, there are many reasons for a show to switch from one place to another.
Contract Buy-Outs: The show is exceptionally popular and when a contract expires two or more channels bid for new seasons.
And just like the trope, it may be poorly performing on one channel while on another channel it skyrockets in popularity. Of course, a 3.5 rating on ABC is cancel-worthy; a 3.5 rating on USA is cause for celebration.
Behind-the-Scenes Politics: One network made a great offer and the current network isn't dedicated enough to hold on to the show.
New Umbrella Channel: A major production company gets the needed things in order so they can have a network station that only airs their programming. Or that production company buys out the network channel. ABC was bought by Disney in 1996, UPN was owned by Paramount, The WB was owned by Warner Bros., and there are even more when it comes to cable channels.
Note that this only counts new episodes; else, the sheer number of places they've shown Looney Tunes reruns would make the page overflow. Channels calling episodes "premieres" when they know full well that they originally aired somewhere else are telling you Blatant Lies — slightly more honest ones might use the Weasel Words "network premiere".
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From ABC to...
The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) jumped from ABC to CBS in 1957.
TJ Hooker was cancelled after four seasons by ABC, CBS picked up season five and aired the new episodes in its 11:30PM Crimetime After Primetime slot.
Step by Step made the ABC to CBS move at the exact same time as Family Matters. Neither lasted more than one season on the new channel.
The Critic from ABC to FOX (Lampshaded: "I used to have a big show on ABC - for about a week!") to Comedy Central to "webisodes" on the Internet (also made fun of on the first "webisode").
Rocky and Bullwinkle started on ABC in 1959 as Rocky and His Friends, then moved to NBC in 1961 where it was retitled The Bullwinkle Show. It ran in prime time for two years and Saturday morning for one more. It then moved back to ABC in 1964 for eight years in reruns until it was syndicated and given the title it is now best known by. It was also syndicated in 30-minute components as Rocky and His Friends and in 15-minute components as The Rocky Show.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (American) from ABC to ABC Family. Although all of its content was taped before the move, there were unaired episodes still in the can, as well as enough raw footage that the producers could create "new" shows several years after taping ended.
The new run of the show airs on The CW.
ReBoot from ABC to Cartoon Network, with 6 years or so between them. Apparently ReBoot was canceled solely because ABC was bought out by Disney, who wanted purely Disney owned programming, which Reboot did not fit. The third season was produced in syndication through Canadian channels and the US didn't get that season until Cartoon Network picked it up two years later. Being Vindicated by Reruns, that paved the way for a fourth season.
Recess began on ABC, but from September 1999 to July 2000, new episodes would air on ABC and UPN (Season three on ABC, season four on UPN). September 2000 had new episodes only premiere on ABC (Reruns would air on UPN for Disney's One Too), and in 2001, new episodes premiered on UPN (ABC still reran the series until 2005).
Wonder Woman started on ABC, until the network decided it was too expensive to keep producing a historical series set in the 1940s. It was immediately picked up by CBS, who also changed the setting to the (then) modern day.
Scrubs moved from NBC to ABC in 2008. Apparently some people were confused because ABC owned the show anyway, so it was a strange instance of being owned by one network and aired by another (see also Caroline In The City, which though shown on NBC was made by CBS Productions).
Medium from NBC to CBS in September 2009, cozied between Ghost Whisperer and NUMB3RS; before it moved, it was the last CBS-produced show that wasn't on CBS or The CW (which CBS owns half of).
Late Night With David Letterman went from NBC to CBS in 1994, but because NBC owned the rights to the "Late Night" name, the show was renamed Late Show With David Letterman. Late Show is virtually identical to Late Night.
I'll Fly Away was briefly revived on PBS after cancellation by NBC.
Silver Spoons and Punky Brewster both jumped from NBC to syndication (both shows, along with ABC to CBS jumper Family Matters, were produced by David Duclon). In the case of Punky, the move was a lot more complicated (see "Production Company Examples")
Match Game landed on CBS four years after NBC canceled it, had a syndicated daily edition in 1979 (a nighttime edition ran concurrently and started in 1975), then it reappeared on NBC in 1983 as The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, then on ABC in 1990 as simply Match Game, and then another syndicated edition appeared in 1998.
You Don't Say! was rebooted for ABC six years after NBC dropped it.
Mamas Family went to first-run syndication after one year on NBC.
The daytime version of Wheel of Fortune moved from NBC (where it began in 1975) to CBS in 1989, then back to NBC for a few more months in 1991 before it was canceled. (The current syndicated version began in 1983.)
From CBS to...
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (based on the Robert A. Heinlein novel Space Cadet) is the Most Triumphant Example of this trope, having started on CBS, moved to ABC, then to NBC, then toDu Mont, then back to NBC. The show ran from 1950-1955, meaning it enjoys the singular distinction of appearing on every national network available in the US at that time. A modern program would have to conduct dozens, if not hundreds of channel hops to match that today.
Password started on CBS, then was canceled and revived on ABC. It was canceled and revived again on NBC as Password Plus, then later Super Password. It came full circle back to CBS, revived as Million Dollar Password nearly 20 years after Super Password was canceled and over 40 years since Password first debuted on CBS.
Ghost Whisperer was supposed to jump to ABC for the 2010-11 season but Jennifer Love Hewitt turned down an offer to return for another season so the show was canceled instead.
The $10,000 Pyramid to ABC. It was later retitled The $20,000 Pyramid and returned to CBS as The $25,000 Pyramid.
Scooby-Doo originated on CBS then moved to ABC in 1973. Afterwords, episodes have since premiered on The WB, The CW, Cartoon Network, and even home video.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures to Fox. The new DIC-produced episodes were received so poorly that Fox replayed the far better Hanna-Barbera episodes aired the season before on CBS.
Forever Knight started out as part of CBS's "Crime Time After Prime Time" rotation. When deals were made for Letterman to move into that timeslot, the first season was rerun for almost a second season's worth of time to keep the slot occupied. The show then moved to syndication for its second season, and to a rare combination of airing in syndication *and* on USA for a third season.
Many fans came to regret that third season seal, as USA reportedly demanded younger cast members be added and focused on, to the detriment of the established cast. (Jon Kapelos stated at the time that *he* left because from the original pilot to the end of the second season, he'd been playing his character for six years and wanted a change.)
Supernatural moved from The WB to The CW after the first season.
Roswell moved from The WB to UPN after its second season, at the same time as Buffy.
Mission Hill, The Oblongs, and Baby Blues, respectively. Only eight of each series' single 13-episode seasons note (although Baby Blues has a second season which remains unaired to this day) aired on The WB. Thanks to managerial changes following the AOL Time Warner merger which caused the Turner networks to "play nice" with The WB, [adult swim] managed to air the remaining episodes of each series in 2002.
One Piece from Fox Box (later 4KidsTV) to Cartoon Network. Partway through their broadcast, 4Kids just stopped airing the series on their block (alegedly due to content restrictions). The remaining 4Kids dubbed episodes later aired on Toonami, leading to the eventual FUNimation dub. In 2013, the FUNimation-dubbed episodes returned to premiering Toonami, now a part of [adult swim].
This happens with a lot of sister/parent networks, as they often show the same shows at the same time. Kappa Mikey was produced solely for Nicktoons Network, but because it was controlled by their larger parent network Nickelodeon, new episodes sometimes premiered there first. When episodes stopped airing on Nick but continued on Nicktoons, some took this to mean it was canceled. It never had a consistent airing schedule either, and time will tell if it gets syndicated somewhere else.
The 90's version of The Outer Limits also moved from Showtime to the Sci-Fi channel for it's seventh and final season. (The producers of SG-1 were already known for the 90s Outer Limits when the show started)
This also happened in its native country of Japan. In 2002, the franchise moved their series from TV Asahi to Tokyo Broadcasting System starting with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED.
Phineas and Ferb is a rather odd example. From the second season onward, new episodes moved from Disney Channel to Disney XD, however it still airs regularly on the former which still treats it as its own series and airs brand new episodes anywhere from a week to a month after its sister network.
The American rights to broadcast the English Premier League went from a joint venture between ESPN and Fox to NBC Universal, beginning with the 2013 season. Presumably, most matches will be aired on NBC Sports and Telemundo.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Legit, and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell will all make the hop from FX to its new comedy-oriented spinoff channel FXX in Fall 2013. While it's understandable that FX wants to spruce up hype about the new channel, it's rather rare to see so many shows from one channel leave for another, let alone seeing all of them end up at the same destination. Read more about it here.
The Broadcast Rights of Batfink, Dangermouse, ,Looney Tunes, Pinky and the Brain, Scooby-Doo, Taz Mania, Tom and Jerry Kids, Tots TV, Uncle Max and Yoko! Tokamoto! Toto since 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 have moved from ITV to the BBC.
Similarly University Challenge is an ITV show that was revived on the BBC (both versions produced by the ITV company Granada).
Men Behaving Badly first appeared on ITV, but was dropped by them after two series due to disappointing ratings and Harry Enfield having left after the first series. It wasn't until the BBC got it and transmitted it in a later slot that it became a massive hit.
Ronnie Barker's Hark at Barker on ITV had a more-or-less direct sequel, His Lordship Entertains, on the BBC, featuring the same cast. Unfortunately His Lordship Entertainswas wiped (though the scripts have appeared in a book by Barker).
Blockbusters moved from ITV to Sky, to BBC 2, back to Sky, and is now on Challenge.
Home and Away was initially picked up by ITV in Britain. Around the turn of the century it hopped over to Five, but not before ITV enacted a clause that made us wait a year and a half to see new episodes.
From The BBC to...
In the UK, Neighbours moved from the BBC1 (who broke the series and where it had been a fixed staple of the daytime schedules for over 20 years), to Five in 2008.
Up until its seventh and final season Robot Wars had aired on BBC2, for its 7th season it moved to Channel 5.
BBC Two's Red Dwarf was put on hold during Development Hell of The Movie but eventually after a surprise ratings success of reruns on the channel Dave - in 2009 the channel aired a three-part Easter Special Back to Earth with further episodes commissioned.
The Goodies was dropped by the BBC in 1981 and was picked up by LWT (now ITV London).
Unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel did not get shown on BBC 2 but rather on Channel Four. The first season was shown at 6 in the evening due to a particularly dumb case of What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? (David Fury's response to this scheduling - "Shock and disbelief are mine!" - was echoed by many fans). This led to the episodes being shown in heavily mutilated form, despite which they still got a formal reprimand from the then Censorship Bureau the Broadcasting Standards Council. After they'd buried the terrestrial premiere of the second season (and several season one episodes, three of them shown out of sequence when they realised they'd get more complaints if they showed them earlier) post-midnight, the third season got bought by Channel Five and bombed, partly because no-one had seen the first two seasons and didn't have a clue what was going on, partly because it was on opposite the twohighest-rated shows in the country. The last third of the third season and the fourth season were shown post-midnight; the final season has never been shown terrestrially.
Even The Simpsons fell victim; when it arrived on British (terrestrial) television in 1997 it was first shown on BBC1 - and was beaten in the ratings by Sabrina the Teenage Witch on ITV (one of the few long-running American shows that ITV has screened every episode of). The show was eventually moved to BBC2, where it was a much better fit, until Channel Four took it in 2004.
Formula One had always been on the BBC until it was sold to ITV, until it went back onto the BBC and was in turn sold to Sky Sports. Technically they are currently split between the two, but there are always rumors that BBC will give it up.
On the other side of the pond, after being on SPEED Channel for many years, F1's moved to the NBC Sports Network.
The first three seasons of Damages aired on BBC1; season four jumped ship to Lifetime a couple of years (!) later.
From Syndication to...
WWF Superstars (distributed in Canada as Maple Leaf Wrestling, also the name of a Toronto-based promotion purchased by the WWF in 1984) was on in syndication for about a decade before it hoped over to Sunday morning on the USA Network to replace Action Zone. It would hope one again five years later when WWF moved all their programs to Viacom channels and it landed on TNN for about a year before it was canceled. The show later had a revival on yet another network WGN America where it stayed for 2 years but its contract was not renewed, it is currently being aired only in overseas markets and is streamed online.
Babylon 5 did four seasons in syndication before TNT ponied up the caysh for a fifth season plus ALL those TV movies (including the Re CutPilot Movie. It later made it to Sci Fi, which is the channel responsible for the first widescreen presentation (which eventually made it the format used on the DVD's.
The Pokémon anime franchise spent its first half-season in Fall 1998 in syndication, then was picked up by Kids' WB! in early 1999, where it remained until 4Kids' rights to the show ended in 2006. Then, the new episodes of the show were handed over to Cartoon Network by Pokemon USA, who had been previously running reruns of the show for years. The original series is now in reruns on Boomerang, while Cartoon Network continues to play new episodes of the current series.
Sailor Moon started out in syndication in 1995, but only the first 65 episodes were shown before the show went into re-runs and was ultimately pulled. It was then picked up for cable by Turner Broadcasting and spent a few months being re-shown on USA Network before it was moved to Cartoon Network's Toonami action block where it found new life, and premiered 94 new episodes, and 3 movies.
Also, a few early (and inconsecutive) S episodes were shown on The WB's Toonami block before they were pulled after 9/11 (although this was supposedly a coincidence).
Dragon Ball Z itself began in weekly syndication in 1996 before Cartoon Network famously picked it up and added it to its Toonami block in 1998, where it finished and was in reruns for almost ten years. In addition, The WB's Saturday morning Toonami block premiered the Garlic Jr. Saga episodes in the Summer of 2000 before they were rerun in Cartoon Network.
Venezuelan Talent ShowCuanto Vale El Show began in Venezolana de Television as a segment of Fantastico a variety show, then it hopped to RCTV, a full program, and then it landed in Venevision. All the versions of the show were produced and host by its creator, Guillermo González; he eventually got tired and left showbusiness to fund his own network, just before Musical Realities like the X Got Talent series and the Idol series emerged in English-speaking countries.
From a neighbor country, Brazil, sitcom Sai de Baixo ran for six years in Rede Globo. In 2013 it got a four-episode revival on its cable subsidiary Canal Viva, where one of the characters even lampshaded: "We couldn't get a break for five seasons in broadcast prime time! What makes you think that in paid TV will be any different?"
In Britain, the first two seasons of Totally Spies! were shown on Channel 4, often in the early hours of the morning with little publicity. It moved to ITV from season 3 who aired at more respectable times of the morning with more publicity.
Pokémon was originally aired on NTV7 in Malaysia with Malay subtitles. By the time of Master Quest (season 5) the show moved to tv9 and was now dubbed.
And while we're dealing with the Winx, they've had several homes in the UK: GMTV (ITV), Nickelodeon UK, and most recently Pop Girl. (Also, see below.)
In Australia, they didn't just hop between channels (from Network Ten and Cartoon Network to Boomerang), they also hopped dubs for season 4 (necessitated by 4Kids not having the rights to dub that season).
Nickelodeon's acquirement of the Winx property will necessitate a Channel Hop in several countries where Winx wasn't already on Nick. (And indeed it's moving from Pop Girl back to Nick in the UK - see above.)
All of the shows on The CW's first season hopped over from The WB and UPN, except for Runaway and The Game. Depending on the market, some shows may not have really hopped at all (if the former WB or UPN station landed a CW affiliation).
The Game has since hopped to BET.
Three Sheets started on HD channel MOJO HD before it closed. Fine Living Network picked it up for its fourth season, where it obtained Adored by the Network status until that channel was rebranded into Cooking Channel. The show then hopped to co-owned Travel Channel briefly, then to Spike TV before its run ended in 2011.
Holmes On Homes was the only show with a pulse on the US Discovery Home network. When Discovery decided to make that network Planet Green and mothball the entire Discovery Home lineup, HGTV quickly snapped up Holmes for their own channel; an easy call as HGTV Canada is actually the one that produces the show. It got a timeslot upgrade to Sunday evenings and continues to do just fine for HGTV, and outlived Planet Green, which became the American-centric Destination America on Memorial Day 2012.
Like Angel, Alias suffered from fragmented and censored airings (season 1 on Channel 4, season 2 on Channel 5) and moreso, with Sky One dropping the series after the first two seasons and Bravo screening the other three.
Gilmore Girls made its British debut on Nickelodeon, but only the first three seasons were shown (and were prone to being censored); it later moved to the Hallmark Channel (where seasons four and five premiered) and ultimately to E4 (which has shown all seven seasons).
The first two seasons of Veronica Mars were on Living, but the third and final season was on Trouble.
Although David Letterman has a cult following in Britain, Late Show With David Letterman has run on four different channels - Sky One, Paramount Comedy Channel, ITV4 and Diva TV - and never lasted longer than a year on any of them. (If you count BBC2 running the episodes for the week the show was in London - his only appearance on British terrestrial television to date - he's been on five.)
The first season of Ghost Whisperer was on E4, but from season two it was shown on Living (a better fit, given that Living is known for running ghost-themed shows like Most Haunted).
You Don't Say! (NBC), Seven Keys (ABC), and Beat The Odds (syndication) all began as local shows in Los Angeles before going national.
The show famously known as Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee, and currently known as Live! with Kelly and Michael was originally a weekday morning news and lifestyle show on ABC flagship station WABC-TV in New York that Regis Philbin co-hosted and which debuted in 1983. Sister station WLS-TV is Chicago is where The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted as a similar local show before it became a similar nationally syndicated talk show, debuting in 1984.
In Britain Pretty Little Liars moved from Viva to the sister channel MTV thanks to Viva beginning the series a few months after it launched on ABC Family (the series premiered in June 2010 in the US, and in October of the same year in Britain) and falling afoul of its long mid-season gap; by the time the series began again from the beginning on MTV in 2011, the first season was complete. British fans of Community, which began on Viva at the same time and was also dropped, weren't so fortunate - the second season began running in April 2012 on Sony Entertainment Television (given that the series is a co-production of Sony and Universal it was that or the Universal Channel, and the Universal Channel doesn't show comedies). Now, of course, no one in the UK showsPretty Little Liars...
George Bluth, Sr.: Well, I don't think the Home Builders Organization is going to be supporting us.
Michael Bluth: No, the HBO's not gonna want us. What do we do now?
George Sr.: Well, I think it's Showtime- ...we have to have a show during dinner.
This is adverted hard with Mexican public TV: All the programs created and broadcast (including foreign-made series and movies) in the two only Mexican networks (Televisa and TV Azteca) belongs to those networks and those networks only. Those programs cannot be switch over to the rival network (especially network-created shows like soap operas, TV shows, etc), but there's a few exceptions to the rule:
The Real Ghostbusters was originally broadcasted by Imevision (the TV Azteca's predecessor), but since Imevision was privatizated by the government and become TV Azteca later, they lost the Mexican broadcasting rights of the show and Televisa bought the show later.
The Simpsons was originally intented to be broadcasted by Televisa, but after one single episode, the owners cancelled the broadcasting due to its subversive content and TV Azteca bought the series from them.
All the Walt Disney catalog (movies, series, etc) went from Televisa (who was Disney's client for decades) to TV Azteca for unexplained reasons.
TNA Wrestling moved from Bravo to Challenge because Bravo got shut down by their new owners.
The upcoming fifth series of Murdoch Mysteries was set to be the last after the show was cancelled by Citytv, but CBC has since picked up the rights and has confirmed that a sixth series will be going into production to air later in 2012.
British fans of Breaking Bad have seen the show dropped by two broadcasters (FX and FiveUSA); the fourth season will now be shown on Netflix.
The Angel: After The Fall(IDW Publishing) comic book series: After having crossed over with the Buffy (Dark Horse Comics) comics, Angel's story is now being continued in Dark Horse's spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9, Angel and Faith.
In the UK, Hot In Cleveland moved from Sky Living to Sony Entertainment Television for its third season.
In Britain South Park began on Channel Four terrestrially and Sky1 on cable/satellite; both channels ended up dropping it and it moved to Comedy Central (in the days when it was still called Paramount Comedy).
Home and Away in New Zealand has channel-hopped four times. It first premiered on TV3 when the channel launched in November 1989. It moved to TVNZ in 1993, initially on TV One then on TV2. In 2002, it moved back to TV 3, and then in 2013, it moved back to TVNZ's TV2!
The Invisible Man had a rare deal where is aired both on the Sci-Fi Channel and in syndication *the same week* which persisted for both seasons it aired. Unfortunately when SFC pulled out, syndication alone wasn't enough to keep the show going.
In the UK and Ireland, Pokemon was initially aired on SKYONE up to around the Johto era, before their version of Cartoon Network picked up new episodes of the show. Since then, reruns, new episodes and the movies can be found on the CITV channel as well as Disney XD.
Punky Brewster not only switched from network to syndication, it also changed producers. It was originally produced in-house by NBC, but the network had to license the rights to Columbia Pictures Television. Under Federal Communications Commission rules at the time, a network could not be involved in a syndicated show. Funny to think now considering that all five networks are owned by conglomerates that have their own TV syndication units.
The Golden Girlsnearly went towards this: In 1991 Touchstone Television decided against making any more episodes for financial reasons. Warner Bros. Television said they'd step into the breach, but that plan fell apart when Beatrice Arthur announced she was quitting.
On the other hand, when Cannon Television ran into financial problems of their own after the first few episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS (with some help from Columbia Pictures Television) agreed to foot the bill thereafter.
Similarly, the NBC episodes of Baywatch were produced by GTG Entertainment - making for a strange-but-true link between this series and Mary Tyler Moore, as MTM's ex Grant Tinker was the "GT"note Gannett Newspapers supplied the second "G" - while the syndicated ones hailed from Tower 12 Productions/The Baywatch Production Company (and due to financial involvement from Britain's London Weekend Television thanks to Brits and Germans loving David Hasselhoff, the end credits carried the card "A Baywatch Production Company Production for LWT").
The pilot for The Highwayman was made by Glen A. Larson's company at 20th Century Fox, but the series was produced on a lower budget by Larson's New West Entertainment.
When The Man From UNCLE's reunion movie The Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair got the go-ahead in 1983, it wasn't made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (home of the original series); writer-producer Michael Sloan convinced MGM to lease the property to his company and Viacom Productions.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction - the CBS episodes (which had Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin and Bernie Casey voicing the characters they played in the movie) were made by Hanna-Barbera in association with Orion, while when it moved to Fox (making this a channel hop AND a company hop) DiC took over production with the voices of the actors starring in a live-action adaptation of the movie.
A huge example: every Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film made before 1986 is now owned by Warner Bros. because Turner purchased MGM in 1985 and sold it back, while keeping its film library. WB's purchase of Turner resulted in the films ending up there, where they remain today.
George Romero's Living Dead films, in part due to his unwillingness to trim gore and violence from them. Latent Image, Laurel, Universal, Columbia, etc. However, the first such hop can be explained by the first film's public domain status: Romero blamed it on a copyright screw-up by the production company/distributor when the title was changed from Night of the Flesh Eaters and vowed never again to work with the guilty parties.
The Chronicles of Narnia started out being released by Walt Disney Pictures; Walden (the actual film company responsible for the films) has since jumped ship and the next installments will be under 20th Century Fox (though since Walden lost the rights, it could even change the production company).
Bit of a subversion here, as Universal distributed the film in other territories (for example, the UK and Australia).
Chronic with the Terminator films. Every. single. movie. Actual distribution is even worse (first one: Orion theatrically, currently MGM; second: TriStar Pictures theatrically and some video releases - others involved with home distribution include Lionsgate, Artisan and Universal; third/fourth: Warner domestically, Sony overseas).
To elaborate why: The first was made by Hemdale Film Corporation, who were bought by Orion Picturesnote whose library is owned by MGM, thus the DVD is theirs, and the rights were eventually bought by Mario Kassar, who ran Carolco Pictures, which later went bankrupt (destroying chances of James Cameron's Terminator 3 and Spider-Man) and had their film library bought by Studio Canalnote Universal owns 50%, and release T2 on video overseas, who sold the rights to C2 Pictures (also ran by Kassar and his partner Andrew G. Vajna) and Intermedia, and the possibility of any more Terminator sequels became the subject of a legal deadlock (thanks to a feud between Kassar and Vajna), eventually culminating in the rights going to The Halcyon Company. Who sold the rightsafter going bankrupt.
Interestingly, Hemdale was the only production company among them to hang around long enough to see the sequel to its movie premiere in theatres; in fact, Hemdale was still around for a few more years after Terminator 2 (and Bruno Mattei's own unofficial sequel with a similar name, released in the United States under the name Shocking Dark due to trademark issues) was released.
Hannover House, a company formed by a former Hemdale employee, even tried to make a new animated movie, but was blocked to do so by Pacificor, the hedge fund who purchased the rights from Halcyon (because they helped them purchase said rights in the first place).
Then Warner (New Line's parent company) sold the rights back to Paramount so both can produce Christopher Nolan's next movie. Platinum Dunes, responsible for the 2009 remake, is attached to a possible new movie under Paramount.
Warner Bros.. also got the sub-license to the first 8 films to do an entire franchise Blu-ray set.
The Halloween franchise went from Compass International for the first film to Universal Pictures for the second and third films, to Galaxy International for the fourth and fifth films, and finally to Dimension for the sixth, seventh, and eighth films (working with Miramax for the eighth). The two Rob Zombie films were both Dimension under The Weinstein Company (working with MGM on the first and Sony on the second).
The current DVD distributors are Anchor Bay for films 1, 4-5, Universal Home Video and Shout! Factory (under their Scream Factory label) for films 2 and 3, and Dimension/Echo Bridge for films 6-8. In addition, Genius Entertainment has the first Rob Zombie film and Sony has the second. Film 1 was also originally distributed on VHS by Media Home Entertainment.
The Scream films have always been Dimension Films, but because Dimension switched from being under Miramax (Buena Vista/Disney) to The Weinstein Company, the fourth film averted this. The first 3 films are currently owned by Lionsgate (who purchased most of Miramax' film library when Disney sold them), and the 4th by The Weinstein Company (with DVD/Blu-ray by Anchor Bay).
The same goes for the Sky Kids and Scary Movie franchises as the first three films of their respective series were also distributed by Miramax under the Dimension Films label and their subsequent films were released by The Weinstein Company under the Dimension Films label.
Speaking of The Weinstein Company, it's home video division had several distributors through the years (Genius Products from 2006 to 2009, Vendivi Entertainment from 2009 to 2010 and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment from 2010 to 2011). It's currently distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment (2011 - present) as TWC bought a share of Starz Media, which is Anchor Bay's parent company.
Walter Lantz, who made Woody Woodpecker jumped ship from Universal Pictures to United Artists in 1947. Lantz then briefly shut down his studio in 1949. The studio reopened in 1951 and went back to Universal as his distributor.
As Marvel Comics opened a studio, they are starting to get back the rights to their characters (leading Fox and Columbia to try to keep the ones they own - X-Men/Fantastic Four for the formernote they tried the same with Daredevil, but eventually the rights lapsed, Spider-Man/Ghost Rider for the latter). So far they got Punisher (got a new movie in 2008), Hulk (included in The Avengers) and Blade.
And now, effective September 2013, Disney has the rights to the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe save for The Incredible Hulk.
The first Childs Play movie was made by United Artists, who supposedly dropped it on "moral grounds." The other four movies have been produced by Universal or by Universal-owned companies (and indeed Universal is planning to remake the original).
Mulholland Drive was originally shot for the ABC network and financed by Touchstone Pictures. After ABC passed on it, director David Lynch decided to rework it and got production company Studio Canal to buy the film and finance the shooting of new footage. Universal ended up releasing the film as part of their relationship with Studio Canal.
The Emmanuelle films released theatrically went from Columbia to Paramount to Miramax to Cannon. Four films, four distributors.
The Muppets films have gone from ITC/Associated Film Distribution with the first film to ITC/Universal Pictures with the second to TriStar Pictures (you can blame the lawsuit over The Lone Ranger's mask for that one) with the third to Walt Disney Pictures with the fourth and fifth to TriStar's sister studio Columbia with the sixth and back to Disney from the seventh onward.
Other Jim Henson works have hopped too. The Dark Crystal was a ITC/Universal Pictures release that originally was released by Thorn EMI Video in The Eighties, then Walt Disney Home Video in The Nineties. At the end of that decade, Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment picked it up. Labyrinth was originally released by TriStar Pictures but the initial video release was through Embassy (later Nelson) Home Entertainment; again, Columbia/TriStar (re)claimed it at the end of The Nineties.
The Studio Ghibli films have a history of this in the US. Disney and Buena Vista has distributed most of them since 1997, but there have been a few exceptions:
The original US release of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1985 was under New World Pictures with video distribution from Veston Video and later First Independent Video. Disney would later acquire the film and redub it for their releases beginning in 2005.
Princess Mononoke was distributed by Miramax because of it's intense content. When they went under, the rights reverted back to Disney.
In 2011, GKIDS picked up the theatrical rights to the Studio Ghibli catalog from Disney, who still retains home video rights, with the exception of From Up on Poppy Hill, who's home video rights also went to GKIDS (who released the film to DVD and Blu-ray under Cinedigm's distribution).
The Wind Rises is being distributed theatrically and on video by Disney's Touchstone Pictures label.
The Pokémon films are owned by different distributors in the US. The first 3 films were (and still are) distributed by Warner Bros. Films 4-7 were distributed by Miramax and Buena Vista (and now by Echo Bridge Home Ent.). Films 8 onward have been with Viz Media (who has the home video rights to the anime, ironically with distribution from Warner Home Video), with the strange exception of the 11th film, which went to Universal. Also, Cinedigm distributed the 14th film in theaters in the US (the "White" version), a change from Warner and Miramax of the first 5 films (films 6-13 were direct-to-video or TV).
AKIRA has gone from Streamline Pictures to Orion Films to MGM to Pioneer to Bandai Visual to Bandai Entertainment to FUNimation.
The Miley Cyrus film So Undercover was financed by The Weinstein Company but was sold to Open Road Films (a joint venture of the AMC and Regal theatre chains) for its theatrical release. Then the North American theatrical run got canceled and Millennium Films ended up distributing the film for home video (the failure of LOL at the box office obviously didn't help matters).
Haywire was to have initially been released by Lionsgate but the film's producers (Relativity Media) backed out of their deal with them and chose to distribute themselves. The film went back to Lionsgate for its DVD and Blu Ray releases.
The home video distribution of the Peanuts TV specials moved from Media Home Entertainment and its children's sublabel Hi-Tops Video (or otherwise Kartes Video Communications in a few cases) to Paramount in 1994, then to Warner Bros. in 2008, primarily due to longtime specials producer Bill Melendez being a former Looney Tunes animator. Incidentially, many of the Peanuts specials (often released individually) that Hi-Tops Video had released in the late 1980s were already released earlier in the decade by Media Home Entertainment in either double or triple features.
Most films that Media Home Entertainment had originally released on home video saw their rights transfer as well to other distributors, principally Anchor Bay, but the assets of the company when it folded in 1993 following the conviction of Gerald Ronson, CEO of parent company Heron Communications, were sold to 20th Century Fox, which co-distributed some of the very last releases by Media Home Entertainment. For example, Media originally released the first VHS releases of the first five Nightmare on Elm Street films. After Media Home Entertainment ceased to exist, New Line, which originally theatrically distributed the five films became the rights holder for their home video releases, eventually being transferred to corporate parent Warner Bros.
Little Monsters and Blue Steel were financed by Vestron Pictures but ended up being distributed by MGM/UA due to Vestron's financial issues.
The Seventh Son started out as a typical Warner Bros./ Legendary Pictures feature, but when Legendary announced that they were breaking up with WB, the latter decided to cancel its planned January 2014 release date and ditch the film entirely. Distribution rights will now be held by Legendary's new partner, Universal.
Firefly was produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television (oh, all right, andMutant Enemy) but the big-screen film version, Serenity, was made by Universal.
Orion - owners of Filmways, which made The Addams Family - was having financial issues and elected to sell domestic rights to Paramount for the first film in order to cover some debt (they had a deal with Columbia for overseas distribution). After they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Paramount picked up the sequel rights from Orion. And things don't stop there: Fox got the rights in the late nineties and did a sitcom out of them (with Warner distributing on video the pilot, Addams Family Reunion), and now Universal is planning an animated flick withTim Burton.
The film of Lost in Space was made by New Line, though the series itself was from Fox.
Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel) and the Marvel Family were originally owned by Fawcett Comics, but ended up being bought out by DC after a massive lawsuit. They (as well Fawcett's other heroes) are currently part of the DCU.
Plastic Man and Blackhawk were originally owned by Quality Comics, but like the above examples, were bought out by DC and integrated into their universe. A number of other Quality properties like the Ray, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, and Uncle Sam were later published together as the Freedom Fighters.
The Milestone Comics heroes (the most famous among them being Static) were originally part of a creator-owned imprint published by DC, but separate from the DC Universe. They're currently licensed by DC and part of the DCU proper.
Archie Comics had a line of superheroes in the Golden Age, collectively known as the Red Circle. DC briefly licensed the rights from Archie and integrated them into the DCU, but poor sales resulted in the rights going back to Archie. Archie now publishes the Red Circle heroes once again, treating their DC adventures as Canon Discontinuity in the process.
Miracleman (formerly Marvelman) is a famously complicated example. He started off in the 50's at L. Miller & Son before being revived by Quality Communications in the 80's. He was then licensed out to Eclipse Comics, before that publisher folded (as had Quality), and floated around in limbo for years. Todd McFarlane tried to bring the character into the Image Comics universe, but legal issues prevented this from happening. Marvel Comics supposedly has the rights as of now, and have reprinted some of Miracleman's original 50's stories, but it is unclear whether or not they have rights to the Quality and Eclipse material (which featured legendary work from Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman).
Rob Liefeld's Youngblood originated at Image Comics, but Liefeld eventually left the studio and brought them over to his own publishing house, Awesome Comics (where they were ReTooled by Alan Moore). After Awesome folded, the characters (and Liefeld) returned to Image.
Mantis is a truly bizarre example. She originated at Marvel Comics as a member of The Avengers, but after being written out of the series, was briefly published by DC Comics under the name "Willow", and later by Eclipse Comics under the name "Lorelei". She finally returned to the Marvel Universe a few years later, and is currently part of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
It is very common for comics based on an external license to change publishers, with the new publishers often reprinting the material commissioned from a previous publisher.
It's quite common for artists to start on lower labels but then sign to a bigger one - commonly, to the cries of "Sell Out" by the Fan Dumb.
And in recent years, there is the opposite: artists leave the major labels after being fed up with their policies, and start releasing independently. The breakout example of this practice was Radiohead in 2007.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were first signed to EMI, but it was mostly fruitless - only their last album there, Mother's Milk, caused impact. So afterwards came a bidding war, a deal with Warner Records and Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and they became superstars.
Van Halen were signed to Warner Records for all their career, but for their comeback album A Different Kind of Truth in 2012, they signed with Interscope instead.
When Dave Grohl decided to form the Foo Fighters and release his playing all instruments record as the Self-Titled Album, he signed to Capitol as he knew their president from his Nirvana days. So when said executive left after the Foos did their second album in 97, Grohl left Capitol, and only signed to RCA when the home-made third album was done.
The musical projects of Trent Reznor are an interesting case. After he left major label Interscope in 2007, he set up his own independent label, The Null Corporation, to release new material (such as Ghosts I-IV, The Slip and his and Atticus Ross' Oscar-winning soundtrack to The Social Network). This label goes through RED Distribution, a distribution channel owned by Sony Music. After the success of Null's releases, Reznor's musical project How To Destroy Angels would end up signing with Sony subsidiary Columbia, and he would do the same with Nine Inch Nails for its comeback album.
Depeche Mode signed to Mute Records in 1980, and got a US deal with Sire Records shortly after. When Mute was bought by EMI in 2002, the band's US deal remained in place until 2009, when they moved to Virgin and Capitol (two other EMI subsidiaries) to release Sounds of the Universe. In 2012, however, they left EMI altogether for Columbia, but the logo for Mute still appears on their debut Columbia album Delta Machine.
Queen: Greatest Flix underwent this before release due to the controversial Warner Home Video Rental Drive of '81, being released by Picture Music International through Thorn EMI Video (whose parent company, EMI, distributed their records in the UK), instead of by WEA (who distributed them in the USA) as was originally planned.
In the late 1940s, CBS head William S. Paley conducted a famous "talent raid" of rival NBC, snatching away such popular shows as The Jack Benny Program, Amos 'n' Andy, The Burns and Allen Show, The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show, and The Red Skelton Show. The move led to CBS becoming the ratings leader in 1949, establishing a position of dominance that the network would enjoy into the television era and wouldn't relinquish until the late '70s.
Video Game Examples
Bayonetta began as a Sega franchise, but as of the upcoming sequel, Nintendo now owns the publishing rights. Sega still owns the franchise, but Nintendo is publishing all further games in the series.
Rareware and Silicon Knights used to be Nintendo-owned companies, until they sold their souls to Microsoft.
Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon jumped from Sony Computer Entertainment to Vivendi Universal, who later merged with Sierra. The rights then went to Activision after the fall of Sierra.
Valve Software's games used to be distributed by Sierra, until the release of The Orange Box, in which they are now distributed by EA Games.
Leisure Suit Larry began as a Sierra franchise, until it was sold to Codemasters (who picked up and released Box Office Bust) after Sierra's fall. The other Sierra franchises are retained by Activision.
Command & Conquer went from Westwood Studios to EA Games, some were not to happy about it.
The WWE game franchise went from THQ to 2K Sports following THQ's bankruptcy.