Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc.
  • Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment (1978–1982)
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video (1981–1991)
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video (1982–1991)
  • Columbia TriStar Home Video (1991–2001)
  • Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (2001–2004)
IndustryHome entertainment
FoundedJune 1978; 44 years ago (1978-06) Burbank, California, United States
Headquarters10202 West Washington Boulevard, ,
Area served
Key people
Keith LeGoy (President)
ProductsDVD, Blu-ray, EST, VOD
ServicesPhysical and digital distribution
ParentSony Pictures Entertainment
(Sony Entertainment)
SubsidiariesSony Wonder
Genius Brands (equity stake)
Big Picture Productions (Iberia)
WebsiteSPHE website

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (abbreviated as SPHE) is the home video distribution division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Group Corporation.


SPHE is responsible for the distribution of the Sony Pictures library for home entertainment, mainly releases from the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group (Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, and Screen Gems) as well as releases from Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (Triumph Films, Destination Films, Stage 6 Films and Affirm Films). SPHE also releases and distributes products from Revolution Studios and The Criterion Collection. Since June 20, 2007, SPHE has handled distribution of children's content formerly handled by Sony BMG's Sony Wonder label.[1]

SPHE is also responsible for distribution of television shows from the Sony Pictures Television library, including those produced by Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures Television, TriStar Television, Tandem Productions, TOY Productions, ELP Communications (shows include from T.A.T. Communications to ELP Communications), Four D Productions, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television. On some occasions, the company has distributed television titles not owned by Sony, such as Scholastic Productions' Animorphs, Rovio Entertainment's Angry Birds Toons, Angry Birds Stella and Piggy Tales, and The Jim Henson Company's Fraggle Rock and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.

SPHE now distributes anime films or television shows or live-action Japanese/Asian films licensed by Funimation (now known as Crunchyroll, LLC) after their multi-year home video distribution service deal with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (which was formed two years prior[2]) expired.[3]

In Canada, Columbia TriStar Home Video helped distribute tapes from Astral Video in the 1990s. It also has an Australian deal with Hoyts.


Early history

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment was established in June 1978 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, and released 20 titles in November 1979.[4] Its first 20 titles were licensed and distributed by Time-Life Video, a unit of Time-Life Films, but the relationship didn't last long, and Columbia formed its own distribution arm.[5]

In March 1981, Columbia Pictures established a joint venture with RCA, RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video, to distribute tapes in overseas markets. The partnership expanded to North America as RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video the following year.[6] The venture distributed NBC titles, as it was a subsidiary of RCA at the time. When Tri-Star Pictures was formed in 1984, R/CPHV became one of the three primary distributors of Tri-Star product for home video (the other two being CBS/Fox Video and Thorn-EMI/HBO Video {later renamed to HBO/Cannon Video and then simply HBO Video}, as CBS and HBO originally held stakes in Tri-Star), and fully assumed distribution of TriStar titles in the early 1990s. In Australia, they signed a deal to distribute releases from Hoyts Distribution and formed a longstanding relationship in August 1983.[7]

They also distributed titles from various other film companies unrelated to Columbia, including most of New Line Cinema's theatrical releases (though not all, as Media Home Entertainment and Family Home Entertainment distributed several New Line films during the Columbia deal). New Line formed their own video label in 1990 (the result of acquiring Nelson Entertainment, which had previously been Embassy Home Entertainment, ironic considering Embassy had been owned by Columbia for a brief period of time before being spun off), but continued to go through RCA/Columbia Pictures (as well as SVS-Triumph and then Columbia TriStar Home Video) for distribution until 1994, when Turner Broadcasting acquired New Line and Turner Home Entertainment assumed distribution functions. In 1985, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video had signed a deal with Bellevue Home Entertainment to handle French-Canadian distribution of the product.[8] On September 3, 1986, RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video had inked an agreement with Japanese studio Pony Canyon to distribute RCA/Columbia Pictures' product for the entire Japanese market.[9] On September 10, 1986, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, via Magic Window, made an experiment when RCA/Columbia decided to issue second-season episodes of The Real Ghostbusters on videocassette early, ahead of the fall 1987 syndication debut, but behind the fall 1986 premiere on ABC.[10] On October 29, 1986, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video decided to shut down the Musicvision video line, in order to cut the five workers utilized by the studio, although the studio intently presented the MusicVision banner, and it would said to be a "leading supplier for music videos", and the music segment of the video business isn't growing quickly as many had anticipated.[11] In early November 1987, RCA/Columbia Pictures Hoyts Video, the Australian division announced that they would halt all volume discounts, starting with the November releases of the hit films, namely Platoon and Mona Lisa, and before that, the company had volume to date had across the board with volume discounts, with a 10% ceiling for purchases in excess of 101 units, and credits the charge of policy to the proliferation of buying groups and wholesalers, and many customers were disadvantaged by each group.[12]

In 1987, once the distribution deals has been expired, Tri-Star Pictures was launching a home video unit Tri-Star Video, with Saul Melnick, former MGM/UA Home Video employee as president of the unit.[13] In 1988, after Coke sold its entertainment business, Tri-Star Video was merged into RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.[14] In 1989, there are rumors that Trans World Entertainment would eventually sign a deal with RCA/Columbia to distribute its titles.[15][16]

On February 18, 1987, RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video decided to go regional, with the launch of a new regional organization, in order to reflect the label's expanded activities overseas, and created three regional operations, two in Europe, and one in the Far East, with Wolf-Dieter Gramite and Christian Paternot named vice president and regional directors for northern Europe and Southern Europe, and Paternot retained his title as managing director of Gaumont/Columbia/RCA Video, and Richard H. Hansford was named director of human resources development, and Michael R. Robinson was promoted to general manager of the label's UK operation.[17] In March 1987, RCA/Columbia Pictures inked an agreement with Crown International Pictures in order to enable that RCA/Columbia Pictures would handle a three-film package consisting of Crown's in-house production Hunk, produced by Marimark, as well as Scorpion and Jocks, which are pickups donated by Crown International Pictures, and all three were to be released on video this summer.[18]

In late May 1987, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video decided to get a promotional boost for the summer campaign that would be touted on 65 million Coca-Cola paper cups and promotional pieces for Coke's "America's Summer Cup Game", and seven titles would be established through a companion "America's Summer Hit Sweepstakes" that ran on radio by its then-parent company that owns Columbia Pictures, The Coca-Cola Company and radio station networks Westwood One, and parallels with what HBO Video is going to do this summer that Coke later said it never existed, because the fact that the agreement fell through at the company's displeasure seeing the Columbia Pictures then-parent company teaming up with a competing video company, and the initial four titles that was featured on Coke's paper cups were The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, Starman and Real Genius, which would soon to be joined by Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tommy and Tootsie.[19] In late October 1987, RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video is launching a new program supplier "Hit Revolving System" for its feature films, and the label will kick off in December with the release of the 1986 hit movie Platoon, for the top price level of €349, reversed for product regarded as blockbuster material, other ERS films would go to the trade of €150.47 and the core of the HRS came from Nils Johnik, who was the sales manager of the German division of RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video.[20]

In March 1990, NBC filed a lawsuit against Columbia and its then-new parent company Sony under the perception that the latter two parties were violating their joint pact. Columbia purchased the foreign video rights to Orion Pictures titles a month earlier. NBC alleged that they were unaware of this transaction and had become convinced that Columbia was forming their own video unit in strict defiance of the joint venture, which was set to expire in 1992. Sony/Columbia denied NBC's claims.[21] As the lawsuit continued into 1991, General Electric, the parent of NBC and RCA, announced that it was divesting its interest in RCA/Columbia.[22] In August 1991, General Electric sold its 50% share of the company to Sony Corporation, and the litigation officially ended with Sony renaming the company as Columbia TriStar Home Video.[23] In 1998, it inked a deal with The Jim Henson Company to launch its own video label, Jim Henson Home Entertainment, with CTHV distributing.[24]

On February 28, 1999, CTHV and Universal Studios Home Video signed a multi-year deal to allow CTHV to distribute Universal's products on DVD outside North America.[25]

It was named Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment from April 2001 until a name change to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in November 2004.[26]

SPHE had a three-year deal with Starz's Anchor Bay Entertainment for worldwide DVD releases, with the exceptions of North America, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.[27]


In 2005, when Sony and four partners acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) from Kirk Kerkorian, SPHE held the domestic home entertainment rights to MGM's 4,000 film and 10,400 television episode library, though the releases used the MGM DVD label. On May 31, 2006, MGM ended its distribution deal with SPHE and transferred most of its output to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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.[28]

In February 2011, Sony regained full distribution rights to MGM Home Entertainment library under a deal that pays SPHE 8% in distribution fees (industry norm is 10%).[29]

Recent history

On February 21, 2010, The Weinstein Company made a home video distribution deal with SPHE through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.[30] On August 31, 2010, SPHE partnered with Image Entertainment in a multi-year agreement, marketing and distributing DVDs and Blu-rays by Image. Image retains its own sales and marketing.[31]

On April 23, 2012, Mill Creek announced that they had signed a home video distribution deal with SPHE, acquiring the rights to distribute 250 films from the Sony Pictures catalog on DVD and Blu-ray.[32] On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment signed a deal with SPHE to distribute 665 SPE films and 54 television series on DVD.[33]

Anime News Network reported in February 2013 that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Australian joint venture with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment licensed anime television series from NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan for distribution in Australia, with its initial titles, A Certain Magical Index, Shakugan no Shana and Armitage III, scheduled for release on April 24, 2013.[34] From 2017 to 2018, Funimation began directly distributing a select number of its anime titles in Australia and New Zealand through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Australian joint venture with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In September 2018, Funimation transferred distribution to Madman Entertainment, with Madman handling distribution and classification within the region.[35][36]

On December 18, 2013, SPHE president David Bishop, who had served since 2006, announced he would leave when his contract expired in March 2014.[37] It was announced that Man Jit Singh would replace Bishop.[38]

On July 22, 2015, SPHE and Transmission Films reached a multi-year distribution pact to release Transmission's library in Australia (through Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia Pty Limited) and in New Zealand.[39] On November 20, 2015, SPHE announced that it would release Ultra HD Blu-ray releases.[40]

On March 15, 2016, SPHE partnered with eOne to distribute films by Momentum Pictures across the globe except for Canada on physical and digital home entertainment platforms.[41] In January 2017, SPHE expanded its distribution deal with Genius Brands to include all properties and acquired an equity stake in the company.[42]

On February 6, 2018, Man Jit Singh stepped down as president of SPHE and was replaced by Keith LeGoy.[43]

In February 2021, Sony announced it would distribute releases by Lionsgate Home Entertainment in North America beginning in July 2021, when Lionsgate's distribution deal with 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment expires.[44]


During this time, the company also has and had some sub-labels, including:

International sub-labels

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 box-office 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.


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