Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc.
Formerly
  • 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)
Company typeDivision
IndustryHome entertainment
FoundedJune 1978; 45 years ago (1978-06), in Burbank, California, United States
Headquarters10202 West Washington Boulevard, ,
United States
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Keith LeGoy (president)
ProductsDVD, Blu-ray, EST, VOD
ServicesPhysical and digital distribution
ParentSony Pictures Entertainment
SubsidiariesSony Pictures Kids Zone
Kartoon Studios (equity stake)
Big Picture Productions (Iberia)
WebsiteSPHE website

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc. (abbreviated as SPHE) is the home entertainment distribution division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony.

Background

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) and Crunchyroll, LLC after the latter company's deal with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as Funimation expired.[1][2] SPHE also releases and distributes products from Lionsgate Home Entertainment (since 2021), The Walt Disney Company (since 2024), The Criterion Collection and Content Partners LLC (which includes titles from FilmDistrict (now absorbed into Focus Features), Morgan Creek Entertainment, Franchise Pictures and Revolution Studios). Since June 20, 2007, SPHE has handled distribution of children's content formerly handled by Sony BMG's Sony Wonder label.[3]

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

History

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; this was in part to give RCA's CED videodisc format a steady stream of titles.[6][7][8] 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.[9]

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, itself a former Columbia subsidiary), 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. Other companies distributed by RCA/Columbia included Weintraub Entertainment and 21st Century Distribution.

In 1987, once pre-existing distribution deals had expired, Tri-Star Pictures announced that it would be launching a home video unit, Tri-Star Video, with Saul Melnick, a former MGM/UA Home Video employee, as its president.[10] In 1988, after Coke sold its entertainment business, Tri-Star Video was merged into RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.[11] In late 1989, it was rumored that Trans World Entertainment would eventually sign a deal with RCA/Columbia to distribute its titles.[12][13] This rumor bore fruit by that December when a deal with TWE -- which had by this point become a part of Epic Productions, which struck a separate distribution deal with RCA/Columbia not long before -- was officially announced.[14]

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.[15] As the lawsuit continued into 1991, General Electric, the parent of NBC and RCA, announced that it was divesting its interest in RCA/Columbia.[16] 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.[17] In 1998, it inked a deal with The Jim Henson Company to launch its own video label, Jim Henson Home Entertainment, with CTHV distributing; at the time, Columbia and Henson were also allied theatrically for the Jim Henson Pictures venture.[18]

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.[19]

It was named Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment from April 2001 until a name change to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in November 2004.[20]

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.[21]

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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. However, thanks to a cooling DVD market, sales did not meet projections; this was one of several factors that led to MGM splitting off from Sony Pictures control. On May 31, 2006, MGM ended its distribution deal with SPHE and transferred most of its output to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[22][23] The MGM fiasco directly led to long time SPHE president Ben Feingold's departure in the fall of 2006, and was replaced by, ironically, MGM Home Entertainment executive Dave Bishop, who brought along numerous MGM employees to replace Sony staffers.[24]

In February 2011, Sony was in negotiations with MGM for a co-financing deal that would've included full distribution rights to the MGM Home Entertainment library; this deal, however, ultimately did not include home media rights to MGM's catalog (which instead remained with Fox), though Sony would distribute some of the films they co-financed on video as part of the deal.[25][26][27]

Recent history

On February 21, 2010, The Weinstein Company (TWC) struck a home video distribution deal with SPHE through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.[28] On August 31, 2010, SPHE partnered with RLJ Entertainment in a multi-year agreement, marketing and distributing DVDs and Blu-rays by RLJ. RLJ retained their own sales and marketing.[29]

In September 2011, the Australian division of SPHE announced they would merge their video operations with the local operations of Universal Pictures International Entertainment to form a joint-venture called Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. [30]

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.[31] On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment signed a deal with SPHE to distribute 665 SPE films and 54 television series on DVD.[32]

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.[33] 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.[34][35]

On December 18, 2013, SPHE president David Bishop, who had served since 2006, announced he would leave when his contract expired in March 2014.[36] It was announced that Man Jit Singh would replace Bishop.[37]

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.[38] On November 20, 2015, SPHE announced that it would release Ultra HD Blu-ray releases.[39]

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.[40] In January 2017, SPHE expanded its distribution deal with Genius Brands to include all properties and acquired an equity stake in the company.[41]

On February 6, 2018, Man Jit Singh stepped down as president of SPHE and was replaced by Keith LeGoy.[42]

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 Home Entertainment (owned by The Walt Disney Company) expires.[43]

In February 2024, it was reported that SPHE had reached an agreement to distribute physical releases by Disney in North America, succeeding Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (who has begun to discontinue physical distribution entirely).[44][45]

Sub-labels

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.

References

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