TriStar Pictures, Inc.
FoundedMarch 2, 1982; 39 years ago (1982-03-02) (as Nova Pictures), Burbank, California, U.S.
FounderVictor Kaufman
Headquarters10202 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, California, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Nicole Brown (President)[2]
ProductsMotion pictures
ParentSony Pictures Entertainment
(Sony Entertainment)
DivisionsTriStar Productions

TriStar Pictures, Inc. (spelled as Tri-Star until 1991 and stylized on-screen as TRISTAR since 1992) is an American film studio and production company that is a member of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group,[1] a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment's Sony Pictures, itself is a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony Group Corporation. TriStar Pictures is a sister studio of the older Sony studio Columbia Pictures.

TriStar Pictures was established on March 2, 1982, and founded by Victor Kaufman as Nova Pictures.


Early era (1982–1987)

The concept for TriStar Pictures was the brainchild of Victor Kaufman, a senior executive of Columbia Pictures (then a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company),[3] who convinced the studio, HBO, and CBS to share resources and split the ever-growing costs of making movies, creating a new joint venture on March 2, 1982. On May 16, 1983, it was given the name Tri-Star Pictures (when the new company was formed and did not have an official name, the press used the code-name "Nova", but the name could not be obtained as it was being used as the title for the PBS science series[4][5]). It was the first new major Hollywood studio to be established since RKO Pictures was founded in 1928.[6] The company is firming six feature film starts, having a 12-18 feature film slate per year with a combined budget of $70-$80 million and signed producer Walter Colbenz as vice president of the Tri-Star feature film studio, and had development deals at first with director John Schlesinger and producers Jeffrey Walker and Michael Walker.[7] Tri-Star made its first project to roll out, The Muppets Take Manhattan, which was to be set for filming first.[8]

The studio's first produced film on May 11, 1984, was The Natural starring Robert Redford. Their first release, however, was the film, Where the Boys Are '84; a 1984 remake of the 1960 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture, Where the Boys Are that was co-distributed on behalf of ITC Entertainment after Universal rejected it; the film was a commercial flop.[9] During this venture, many of Tri-Star's releases were released on VHS by either RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, CBS/Fox Video, and HBO/Cannon Video. In addition, HBO would own exclusive cable distribution rights to these films, and broadcast television licenses would go to CBS.[10]

On May 8, 1984, Tri-Star Pictures secured North American distribution rights of the film Supergirl from Warner Bros., and enabled the film to be ready for Christmas.[11] On May 15, 1984, the studio hit big when it began its association with Carolco Pictures, with the distribution of Rambo: First Blood Part II, which eventually became a smash hit for the studio the following year.[12][13]

In the early 1980s, Tri-Star Pictures and Columbia set up a film partnership with Delphi Film Associates and acquired an interest on various film releases. In 1984, Delphi Film Associates III acquired an interest in the Tri-Star and Columbia film slate of 1984, which will have $60 million offering in the financing of film production.[14] On March 21, 1984, Tri-Star Pictures became the tenth leading studio to join the Motion Picture Export Association of America, which joined Buena Vista International, Columbia Pictures Industries, Embassy Pictures Overseas Corporation, MGM/UA Entertainment Co., Orion Pictures International, Paramount Pictures Corporation, 20th Century-Fox International Corporation, Universal International Films and Warner Bros. International.[15]

CBS dropped out of the venture in 1985,[16] though they still distributed some of Tri-Star's films on home video until at least 1992. In 1986, HBO also dropped out of the venture and sold half of its shares to Columbia Pictures.[17] That same year, Tri-Star entered into the television business as Tri-Star Television. It was formed when the studio joined forces with Stephen J. Cannell Productions and Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions and created a television distribution company called TeleVentures. In 1987, they had proposed a home video label, Tri-Star Video, to release Tri-Star material, with Saul Melnick serving as president of the unit.[18]

Columbia Pictures Entertainment era (1987–1989)

On December 21, 1987, Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. was renamed as Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. when Coke sold its entertainment business to Tri-Star for $3.1 billion. Both studios continued to produce and distribute films under their separate names.[19] On April 13, 1988, CPE spun off Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. as a reformed company of the Tri-Star studio.[20] Around that time, Tri-Star has shut down its video division, absorbing it into RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.[21] The television division was eventually later absorbed into CPT themselves.[22]

Sony era (1989–present)

In 1989, Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. was acquired by Sony Corporation of Japan, who merged Columbia and Tri-Star, but continued to use the separate labels. On July 11, 1990, Tri-Star Pictures dissolved and sold its venture in TeleVentures to Stephen J. Cannell Productions and TeleVentures became Cannell Distribution Co. Most of the series and the Tri-Star film packages that were distributed by TeleVentures were transferred to Columbia Pictures Television Distribution.[23] Sony Pictures Entertainment later revived TriStar Television as a television production banner in 1991 and merged with its sister television studio Columbia Pictures Television to form Columbia TriStar Television on February 21, 1994.[24][25] Both studios continued to operate separately under the CTT umbrella until TriStar folded in 1999 and CPT in 2001.

In addition to its own slate, TriStar was the theatrical distributor for many films produced by Carolco Pictures (the rights to only one of their films, Cliffhanger, has been retained by TriStar). TriStar also theatrically distributed some FilmDistrict movies. In 1992, the deal with Carolco lapsed when TriStar, along with Japan Satellite Broadcasting signed an agreement with The IndieProd Company to distribute their movies produced by the pact in order to fill the void.[26]

Around summer 1998, SPE merged Columbia and TriStar to form the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, but just like Columbia Pictures Entertainment, both divisions continued producing and distributing films under their own names. Some of the movies slated to be released by TriStar, including Stepmom would go to its flagship label Columbia Pictures following the merger.[27]

TriStar was relaunched on May 13, 2004 as a marketing and acquisitions unit that had a "particular emphasis on genre films".[28] Screen Gems' executive vice president Valerie Van Galder was tapped to run the revived studio after being dormant.[29] However, the release of its 2013 film Elysium represented the label's first big-budget release since The Mask of Zorro in 1998.

The same year, former 20th Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman joined Sony Pictures and created TriStar Productions as a joint venture with existing Sony Pictures executives. The new TriStar will develop, finance and produce up to four films per year, as well as television programming and acquisitions, starting on September 1.[30][31][32] Sony's TriStar Pictures unit will be retained for "other product, including titles from Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions", and will distribute product from the new TriStar.[33]


Main article: List of TriStar Pictures films

See also


  1. ^ a b "Divisions - Sony Pictures". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Nicole Brown To Lead TriStar In Wake Of Hannah Minghella Exit To Bad Robot". October 17, 2019.
  3. ^ "Victor Kaufman - Founding TriStar Pictures". Vimeo.
  4. ^ "What's in a name". Broadcasting. 1983-05-16. p. 102.
  5. ^ Palmer, L. (1998) "How to write it, how to sell it: everything a screenwriter needs to know about Hollywood" (pp. 232–235). St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0-312-18726-2.
  6. ^ Holt, J. (2011). Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980–1996 (p. 46). Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, NJ, USA. ISBN 978-0-8135-5052-7.
  7. ^ "Tri-Star Firms Six Feature Starts, Two Pickups, En Route To Slate of 12-18; Coblenz To Prod. Slot". Variety. 1983-05-25. p. 3.
  8. ^ "'Muppets' Rolls as First Tri-Star Pic". Variety. 1983-06-01. p. 5.
  9. ^ London, Michael. "Tri-Star Bows With a Universal Castoff". Sarasota Herald-Tribune (February 18, 1984).
  10. ^ Prince, S. (2000) A new pot of gold: Hollywood under the electronic rainbow, 1980–1989 (p. 31). Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. ISBN 0-684-80493-X.
  11. ^ "Tri-Star To Distrib 'Supergirl', Not WB". Variety. 1984-05-09. p. 5.
  12. ^ "SPARING RAMBO'S LIFE MADE SEQUEL POSSIBLE". Los Angeles Times (in American English). 1985-08-21. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  13. ^ "Tri-Star To Distribute Next Four Carolco Pics; 'Blood II' First Up". Variety. 1984-05-16. p. 4.
  14. ^ "7 Tri-Star Pix in Delphi III Float; Gross Cut as Invester Protection; HBO, CBS Deals: 'Fair Market'". Variety. 1984-02-15. p. 3.
  15. ^ "Tri-Star 10th Company to Join the MPEA". Variety. 1984-03-21. p. 13.
  16. ^ "CBS Sells Stake In Tri-Star Inc". The New York Times. Associated Press. 16 November 1985.
  17. ^ Prince, Stephen (2002) [2000]. A New Pot of Gold: Hollywood Under the Electronic Rainbow. History of the American Cinema Vol. 10. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780520232662. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  18. ^ "Orion, TriStar enter home video arena" (PDF). Billboard. 1987-02-28. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  19. ^ KATHRYN HARRIS (September 2, 1987) Coke, Tri-Star Confirm Plans for $3.1-Billion Deal Los Angeles Times, Retrieved on August 8, 2013
  20. ^ "State of New York Division of Corporations - Entity Search: Tri-Star Pictures, Inc". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  21. ^ "RCA/Columbia Is a Home for Tri-Star" (PDF). Billboard. 1988-02-20. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  22. ^ "Coca -Cola Entertainment and Tri-Star to merge TV units" (PDF). Broadcasting. 1987-10-19. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  23. ^ "IN BRIEF". Broadcasting. 1990-07-16. p. 110.
  24. ^ "TriStar President Expected to Head Combined Unit". Los Angeles Times, February 11, 1994. Retrieved on June 28, 2012
  25. ^ Feltheimer heads new Columbia TriStar TV, Retrieved on December 18, 2012
  26. ^ Frook, John Evan; Brennan, Judy (1992-12-14). "IndieProd pacts with JSB, TriStar for distrib'n, prod'n". Variety (in American English). Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  27. ^ Cox, Dan; Carver, Benedict (1998-07-27). "Post-'Godzilla'". Variety (in American English). Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  28. ^ "Sony Pictures – Corporate Fact Sheet". Sony Pictures Entertainment. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. The label will have a particular emphasis on genre films((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  29. ^ Brodesser, Claude; Dunkley, Cathy (May 13, 2004). "TriStar takes flight again". Variety Magazine. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  30. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. Tom Rothman To Launch New TriStar Productions Label For Sony Deadline Hollywood (August 1, 2013).
  31. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (August 1, 2013). "Tom Rothman teams with Sony Pictures to create TriStar Productions". Los Angeles Times.
  32. ^ MICHAEL CIEPLY (August 1, 2013) Sony Hires Rothman to Head Revived TriStar Unit The New York Times, Retrieved on August 2, 2013
  33. ^ "Industry News: Sony Pictures and Tom Rothman Launching TriStar Productions". 2 August 2013.
  34. ^ "Victor Kaufman – Creating the TriStar Logo". Vimeo.
  35. ^ "ArtsWestchester's Arts Exchange: Alan Reingold". Westchester. September 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  36. ^ Suzan Ayscough "Variety" June 18, 1993 TriStar unveils new logo, Retrieved on January 7, 2015
  37. ^ "JAMM VFX". Retrieved 2015-11-07.
  38. ^ "Tri-Star Logo Theme by Dave Grusin". Most Popular Songs. Retrieved August 13, 2012.