- Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the home video distribution arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation. It was established in November 1979 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, releasing 20 titles: The Anderson Tapes, Bell, Book and Candle, Born Free, Breakout, Buck and the Preacher, The Deep, Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River, Emmanuelle, Eyes of Laura Mars, Fun with Dick and Jane, The Harder They Fall, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, A Man for All Seasons, Midnight Express, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mysterious Island, The New Centurions, Shamus, The Taming of the Shrew, and You Light Up My Life.
It is responsible for the distribution of the Sony Pictures library for home entertainment, mainly releases from Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures, but also releases product from Sony Pictures Classics, Screen Gems, Triumph Films, Destination Films, Revolution Studios, Stage 6 Films, and Affirm Films. Since June 21, 2007, SPHE now handles its former Sony BMG kids label, Sony Wonder.
They are also responsible for their television shows from the Sony Pictures Television library from Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures Television, TriStar Television, Tandem Productions, ELP Communications (shows include from T.A.T. Communications to ELP Communications), Four D Productions, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television.
In Canada, Columbia TriStar Home Video helped distribute tapes from Astral Video in the 1990s.
It also has an Australian deal with Hoyts.
The company was formerly known as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment (1979–1982), RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video (a joint venture with RCA, 1982–1991), Columbia TriStar Home Video (1991–2001), and finally Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (2001–2004), before taking on its current name in fall 2004. In some territories, it still goes by its previous identity, however this may not be the case for much longer. In the United Kingdom (and other foreign countries, mainly in Europe), it was known as RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video during the 1980s and early '90s.
As RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video and as Columbia TriStar Home Video, the company distributed many films from New Line Cinema and a number from CineTel Films as well as films from Miramax Films on VHS. On May 29, 1991, General Electric, the parent of RCA sold its 50% share of RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video to Sony Corporation.
Columbia TriStar Home Video also distributed tapes from Turner Home Entertainment in the UK from 1994 to 1997.
In New Zealand, Roadshow Home Video had distributed the titles by Anchor Bay.
The Australian operations was a joint venture between RCA/Columbia Pictures Video and local cinema company Hoyts. It was known as RCA-Columbia Pictures-Hoyts Video, and released many local films (mainly those distributed by Hoyts, as well as Cannon Films) in addition to Columbia Pictures titles. Prior to this, some releases were handled through CEL. In the early 1990s, the company was renamed Columbia TriStar Hoyts Home Video, before Hoyts dropped out of the partnership.
During this time, the company also has and had some sub-labels, including:
- First Release Home Entertainment - A mixture of B-movie, TriStar and some mainstream releases in Australia
- Video Box Office - a mixture of B-movies and some mainstream releases in Australia
- Magic Window - Children's titles
- RCA-Columbia Pictures International Video - International movies (some of these were released by CEL).
- Triumph Video (formerly SVS-Triumph) - Titles from Triumph Films, and some lesser-known Columbia and TriStar releases (It was originally founded in 1979 as Sony Video Services and was renamed after the formation of Sony Pictures.)
- Musicvision - A short-lived music video division of RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.
- Columbia Classics - A label releasing classic films on DVD by Columbia Pictures.
- Screen Classics by Request
- Gaumont-Columbia-RCA Video - A French home video label that released movies by Gaumont, Columbia Pictures, TriStar, and Triumph Films originally formed in 1982. It was later renamed as Gaumont-Columbia TriStar Home Video in 1991.
During the time that Consolidated Press Holdings, and later Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and West Australian Newspapers owned Hoyts, they re-established the Hoyts Distribution arm of the company. SPHE Australia releases Hoyts titles, including the recent hit, Twilight. They also released the handful of films from the Nine Network's film arm, Nine Films and Television.
SPHE also handles the Australian DVD distribution of Lionsgate titles (via Hoyts), after that company was unsuccessful in purchasing Magna Pacific, and the subsequent collapse of the successful bidder, Destra Entertainment.
Australian video distribution (with CEL Home Video)
- Thorn EMI Video Australia
- Embassy Home Entertainment
- RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video
- Thames Video (1980s) (until ABC Video replaced distribution in 1990s)
- Cannon (until MGM Home Entertainment replaced distribution in 2000s)
- Star Video
- Australian Video
- MGM/UA Home Video (until Roadshow Home Video replaced distribution in 1990s)
The international operations are a joint venture with Universal Studios Home Entertainment, a carry-over from the days that Universal's original international operations were as part of CIC Video, and the current international arm of USHE was known as PolyGram Video.
SPHE and MGM
Since 2005, when Sony and four partners acquired MGM from Kirk Kerkorian, SPHE held the domestic home entertainment rights to MGM's 4,000 film and 10,400 TV episode library, although those releases are still being distributed under the MGM DVD label. On May 31, 2006, MGM ended distribution deal with SPHE and transferred most of its output to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, excluding Columbia TriStar MGM/UA co-releases, which will continue to be distributed by SPHE (excluding The latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace and The Pink Panther 2 however). Sony still owns 20% of MGM, but 20th has no controlling interest in MGM. In 2006, long time SPHE president Ben Feingold left the company and was replaced by MGM Home Entertainment executive Dave Bishop, who brought along numerous MGM employees to replace Sony staffers. However in February 2011, Sony regains full distribution rights to MGM Home Entertainment library under a deal that pays SPHE 8% in distribution fees (industry norm is 10%). Fox's deal distributing the MGM library worldwide was set to expire in September 2011, but it was extended for five more years on April 14, 2011.
SPHE also distributes Blood and Chocolate on DVD despite the fact that MGM distributed the film on its own in selected theaters. This is because MGM had the distribution rights for it before MGM was bought.
- Sony has been criticized by many DVD consumers for business practices they find bothersome; for instance, several movies (ranging from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner to Moscow on the Hudson) that were made available with a widescreen and pan-and-scan version on either side were reissued as pan-and-scan only titles. There was also discontent over their decision to release pan-and-scan only versions of Annie, Matilda, and Castle Keep, but only in the case of the final film did the director, Sydney Pollack, intervene and get a widescreen version issued. John Huston, director of Annie, died in 1987, and Danny DeVito did not comment on the DVD of his film Matilda. Annie in particular has a strange DVD history; the original 2000 DVD featured both widescreen and pan-and-scan versions of this 1982 Panavision musical, but the widescreen version was misframed, but later repressed. However, the corrected version was pulled and replaced with a pan-and-scan only "Special Anniversary Edition" (with a DTS soundtrack) in 2004, while other countries received widescreen versions of the reissue. Similarly, Ghostbusters II and White Nights were released on Laserdisc letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, even though both titles were shot in anamorphic 2.35:1. The DVD of Ghostbusters II corrects this problem, but White Nights is still incorrectly displayed at 1.85:1.
- In another incident, the third season DVD set of Married with Children did not feature the Frank Sinatra theme song Love and Marriage due to a licensing dispute between SPHE and the publishers of the song. Many fans were upset that the theme had to be replaced, and has been replaced on all subsequent sets.
- Also, some episodes of TV series the studio has released on DVD have been edited syndication versions, though most episodes are the unedited versions. One recent offense is a whole story point missing from volume 1 of Norman Lear's satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman).
- Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is also known to release older TV shows very slowly and then go into hiatus, e.g. All in the Family, Diff'rent Strokes, One Day at a Time, Mad About You, Fantasy Island, Silver Spoons, The Jeffersons, Maude, Hart to Hart, Who's The Boss?, 227, and others, either because of poor sales or difficulties securing music rights. However, some shows went into release limbo but have since reappeared such as The Partridge Family, Barney Miller, Charlie's Angels, and The Nanny. Plus, for other shows such as Designing Women, The Facts of Life and Mad About You the rights have been acquired by Shout! Factory, under SPHE's license, for further DVD releases.
Notes and references
- ^ History of home video
- ^ THE MEDIA BUSINESS; G.E. Sells Its 50% Stake In Video Unit, nytimes.com
- ^ Affiliation between SPHE and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
- ^ Weinstein Company Seals Sony DVD Deal, deadline.com
- ^ UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME VIDEO AND COLUMBIA TRISTAR HOME VIDEO JOIN FOR INTERNATIONAL DVD DISTRIBUTION, prnewswire.co.uk
- ^ , High Def Digest
- ^ Sony finalizing distribution and co-financing deal with MGM, including next two 'Bond' films, latimes.com
- ^ TV Shows on DVD Press Release
- Sony Pictures Home Entertainment website
- Sony Pictures Home Entertainment at the Internet Movie Database
- Columbia-TriStar Home Video at the Internet Movie Database
- RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video at the Internet Movie Database
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