Sony Pictures Classics, Inc.
Company typeDivision
Founded1992; 32 years ago (1992), in Hollywood, California, U.S.
HeadquartersNew York City, U.S.
Key people
ProductsMotion Pictures
Number of employees
ParentSony Pictures Motion Picture Group

Sony Pictures Classics Inc. is an American film production and distribution company that is a division of Sony Pictures. It was founded in 1992 by former Orion Classics heads Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom.[2] It distributes, produces and acquires specialty films such as documentaries, independent and arthouse films in the United States and internationally. As of 2015, Barker and Bernard are co-presidents of the division, which is a member of the Motion Picture Association (MPA).[3]


Co-founder and co-president Michael Barker

Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) was formed in 1992 by Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom, and set up as an autonomous division of Sony Pictures[2] to produce, acquire and/or distribute independent films from the United States and internationally.[4]

It has released films that have won 37 Academy Awards and received 155 nominations, including Best Picture nominations for The Father, Call Me By Your Name, Whiplash, Amour, Midnight in Paris, An Education, Capote, Howards End, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.[5]

SPC has a history of making reasonable investments for small films, and getting a decent return.[2][6][7] It has a history of not overspending.[2][8] Its largest commercial success of the 2010s is Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2011), which grossed over $56 million in the U.S., becoming Allen's highest-grossing film ever in the United States.

SPC has been a pioneer in theatrical distribution. In 2001 championed the Chinese-language film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which earned the most Oscar nominations ever for a non-English-language film, and win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Globe in 2001. The film earned over $213 million worldwide on a $17 million budget, including $128 million in the U.S. as a Sony Pictures Classics release.[9]

In 2006, SPC promoted The Lives of Others to an Oscar and BAFTA, after it was rejected by the Cannes, Berlin, Venice and New York Film Festivals.[10]

Co-founder and co-president Tom Bernard

SPC occasionally agrees to release films for Sony's other film divisions; however, under its structure within Sony, none of the other divisions (including the parent company) can force SPC to release any film it does not want to release.[2][11]

Film library

Main article: List of Sony Pictures Classics films


  1. ^ "Sony Pictures Classics Bosses Shop Cannes Quality". ABC News. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Anne (October 17, 2006). "Sony Pictures Classics at 15". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 9, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2010. They stay behind the films and manage to find a significant core audience for a large number of them, with the occasional $130 million blowout like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,' [former United Artists president Bingham] Ray says. 'But they spend a fraction of what a major studio would spend to get the same number. Their philosophy is not to pile a lot of money on everything. They run a tight ship; they don't have an army of people working for them. They keep things simple. Alt URL
  3. ^ "Motion Picture Association of America – Who We Are – Our Story". MPAA. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Sony Pictures Classics – About Us".
  6. ^ Pond, Steve (November 16, 2009). "Sony Classics' Embarrassment of Oscar Riches". The Wrap. Retrieved July 28, 2010. It doesn't release blockbusters or Best Picture winners, but its understated business plans reduce risk and keep it in business.
  7. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (January 29, 2008). "PARK CITY '08 | Sundance Buying Spree Stirs Talk; Sony Classics Adds "Baghead," "River," and "Wackness" to '08 Slate". Indiewire. Retrieved February 9, 2012. As Bernard explained, 'We're not looking for home runs; we're looking for singles and doubles.' [...] The tortoise-rather-than-the-hare strategy helped the company capture movies that were under the radar of buyers, and as Bernard argued, even sellers.
  8. ^ "Duncan Jones is Unhappy About Moon – Thompson on Hollywood". Indiewire. April 1, 2010. Archived from the original on June 4, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010. SPC had nothing to do with the DVD release, which Jones is unhappy about.
  9. ^ "Hollywood Flashback: 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' Captured Oscar Gold 20 Years Ago". The Hollywood Reporter. January 10, 2021.
  10. ^ "LAFF: Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard, Michael Barker Get Spirit of Independence Award". The Hollywood Reporter. June 17, 2014.
  11. ^ Ross, Matt (February 6, 2006). "Translating foreign pix to U.S. hits: SPC finds creative solutions to bring home best in overseas fare". Variety.