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A Batarang, A Golden Ticket and a Green Gremlin: Treasures from Warner Bros.

Warner Brothers added to its collection of donated items with more than 30 new items to the American History Museum

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A golden ticket from the 2005 film, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is part of the donation of 30 objects from Warner Bros. All images courtesy of the American History Museum

What do Batman’s batarang, Charlie’s golden ticket and a gremlin have in common? They’re all from famous Warner Bros. films and they’re all part of the American History Museum’s entertainment collection, as of March 8 when the studio’s chairman, Barry Meyer signed over the deed for 30 items from 13 different films. Highlights from the donation, which represents films spanning 63 years, include: stop-action puppets from Tim Burton’s 2005 film, The Corpse Bride, Halle Berry’s Catwoman suit from her 2004 movie, and prop candy bars and a golden ticket from the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp.

The mask worn by George Clooney in the 1997 film, “Batman & Robin.”

The Maudeline Everglot puppet from the 2005 “Corpse Bride” film.

“All of these artifacts,” says curator Dwight Blocker Bowers, “will allow us to tell stories about Hollywood film, . . .one of America’s great industries.”

Joining objects like the Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz and Kermit the Frog, the items represent everything from Hollywood classics like Bette Davis’ 1942 film, Now, Voyager to the wizardry of sci-fi flicks like Gremlins 2: The New Batch from 1990.

Model from the 1990 film, “Gremlins 2: The New Batch.”

“I think all of the items have a unique kind of perspective and a unique kind of position in this,” says Meyer, “but in a way the most beautiful and the most intricate items up there are those models from the Corpse Bride.” Calling the puppets, individual pieces of art that resonant as much off the screen as on, he adds, “but I love them all, including the gremlin!”

His studio marks its 90th anniversary this April and he says, in many ways, its “own story mirrors that of the entertainment industry with a number of firsts in the areas of film and television and home entertainment.” From early ventures merging sound and moving picture to pioneering days in the television industry, and even its patents in the development of DVD and other digital technologies, Warner Bros. has seen phenomenal changes to the film industry.

Through it all, Meyer says, “as these experiences move further into the digital realm. . .it’s really important to remember that every movie, every television show at its heart, at its core, tells a story.” And critical to bringing that story to life, he adds, are “the sets and the props that dress the sets, the costumes worn by the actors and the models used in pre-production and many other non-digital, very tangible items that help us tell the story that is the core of the movie.”

Talking about the ongoing relationship with the American History Museum, Meyer says, “Our partnership is a great way of reminding people that movies and televisions shows are an important part of our shared culture.”

Chocolate bar from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Nell Van Dort puppet from the “Corpse Bride.”

And who could forget Scraps, the cutest resident in the Land of the Dead from the “Corpse Bride?”

 

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About Leah Binkovitz
Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is a Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow at Washington Post and NPR. Previously, she was a contributing writer and editorial intern for the At the Smithsonian section of Smithsonian magazine.

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