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Warner Bros. Hollywood Debuts Historical TCM Classic Films Studio Tour

One of the frustrations of paying a pilgrimage to Hollywood’s movie studio tours is the creeping dominance of corporate marketing in the retelling of American cultural history.

As corporations tighten their grip on Hollywood’s most historic film production lots, tours become less about the heritage and craftsmanship that made the studios great and more about franchises and souvenirs—Batman in the 1990s, Spider-Man a decade ago, Harry Potter today. But not everyone goes to Hollywood to see sets from Pretty Little Liars or Friends. Many of us also want to see the stomping grounds of James Dean, James Cagney, and Bette Davis.

Fortunately, recent scuffles in the executive suites at Warner Bros. have, surprisingly, resulted in a newfound appreciation of the past—and it’s deepening the scope of one of the company’s studio tours.

On April 16, Warner Bros. christened a new variety of its studio tour that’s not about superheroes, but, rather, the great pictures and stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

The new TCM Classic Films Tour at Warner Bros. was born out of a near-death experience for the channel it’s named for.

In 2023, the corporate masters of the popular Turner Classic Movies channel, which has garnered a cult following of viewers and vacationers, began gutting the channel’s staff. The move whipped up such a backlash that some of America’s biggest filmmaking giants, including directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson, united to scold the leaders of Warner Bros. Discovery and to protect one of the few mainstream outlets for classic film.

Almost a year later, timed for the same week as TCM’s film festival, which draws thousands of fans to Los Angeles each year, Warner Bros. has launched a special studio tour devoted specially to film heritage.

Many features of the new tour, which takes about three and a half hours, aren’t different from the regular studio tour, which will remain available.

The latter “includes a visit to Stage 48: Script to Screen, an interactive sound stage highlighting different steps of film production and iconic sets, including the Central Perk Set from Friends and Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment from The Big Bang Theory. The tour’s grand finale is Action and Magic Made Here, showcasing the DC Universe and Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series. The tour concludes with A Celebration of Warner Bros., showcasing awards and original props and costumes from classic titles including Casablanca, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady.”

The difference in the TCM-branded tour lies in the 90 minutes spent scooting around the lot in small-group motorized carts painted in a distinct TCM livery. On the new tour, most of the references and filming locations hark back to movies made when stars were stars.

All Warner Bros. studio tours, even the non-TCM ones, begin with your assigned guide/driver asking your group what movies and stars you’re most keen to learn about so that each tour can be somewhat tailored to the interests of the group. But on the TCM tours, guides have truly been trained in the history of the studio system’s heyday, and little time is wasted with filler on more recent productions unless tourgoers ask.

In addition to the guides’ specialized knowledge, the tour features a few taped introductions by TCM’s onscreen hosts.

The TCM tours also add a few stops and sights that the standard tours don’t include, such as “the exterior of James Dean’s apartment where he resided while working on the lot; the serene rose garden, which in the early years was Jack Warner’s tennis court and was surrounded by talent dressing rooms; and the Eastwood Scoring Stage built in 1929 where countless titles have been scored.”

Frommer’s was not taken to any of those spots on the tour preview that was offered to the press. Studio tour staff warn guests that not every location is available on every tour departure. 

As on the regular tour, TCM’s version visits the Property House (pictured below), where guides point out artifacts used in classic films from the ’30s to the ’60s.

The new tour isn’t a radical departure from the standard offering. More than anything, the TCM Classic Films Tour seems like a simple way to make sure fans of Hollywood’s heyday are paired with the studio guides most equipped to inform them, giving guides permission to delve into the all-time greats rather than hawk the latest blockbuster.

In an era when the accountants at Warner Bros. are literally destroying finished films just to log tax write-offs, simply nurturing a little historical respect can feel like a daring act—and movie fans are lucky to find it.

The TCM Classic Films Tour at Warner Bros. Studios Hollywood is available most days from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Tickets are $95 for adults, $82 for children ages 5–10. Book tours in advance at

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