|Industry||Home video company|
|Founder||Austin Owen Furst Jr.|
|Fate||Parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, assets acquired by LIVE Entertainment|
|Austin Owen Furst Jr.|
|Parent||Vestron, Inc. (1981–1991)|
LIVE Entertainment (1991–1992)
Vestron Video was the main subsidiary of Vestron, Inc., a home video company based in Stamford, Connecticut, that was active from 1981 to 1992, and is considered to have been a pioneer in the home video market.
Vestron was formed in 1981 by Austin Owen Furst Jr. (born 1943), an executive at HBO, who was hired to dismantle the assets of Time-Life Films. Furst bought the video rights of the film library for himself and decided to form a home entertainment company with these assets. Furst's daughter suggested the moniker "Vestron," a portmanteau combining the name of Roman goddess Vesta and "Tron", which means "instrument" in Greek.
The company held on to its Time-Life Video library, and was also responsible for releases on videocassette and CED Videodisc (CED) of mostly B movies and films from the Cannon Films' library. They also distributed films under The Movie Store banner. The most notable titles Vestron released were Dirty Dancing, Monster Squad, and An American Werewolf in London. In later years, the company began to shift towards mainstream films, including films released through their Vestron Pictures subsidiary, most notably Dirty Dancing. Vestron was the first company to release National Geographic and PBS' Nova videos in the late 1980s, mostly distributed by Image Entertainment, and was the first to market with a pro wrestling video, Pro Wrestling Illustrated Presents Lords of the Ring. They also released a 3-volume series called How to Beat Home Video Games, which contains strategies for video games of the time.
They also handled exclusive US distribution, marketing and sales of VidAmerica releases beginning in 1983. Starting in 1985, they handed these duties to their genre sub-label, Lightning Video.
In 1983, Vestron signed an agreement to license several of the films from Sherwood Productions, which was to be served for U.S. and Canadian video distribution. Also that year, Vestron signed a deal to pick up several feature films from Artists Releasing Corporation, namely Vigilante and The House on Sorority Row. In 1984, Vestron Video and Empire Pictures entered into a five-title agreement whereas Vestron would handle worldwide distribution of five of the motion pictures produced by Empire.
On June 11, 1985, Vestron Video had inked an agreement with New Century Entertainment and financer SLM Inc., whereas SLM's titles would be distributed on video by Vestron, whereas MGM/UA Entertainment Co. would handle theatrical distribution of the SLM titles. On February 11, 1986, Vestron Video and ABC Video Enterprises had set up a joint venture ABC/Vestron, for the home video releases of the Capital Cities/ABC television archives, and all home video releases from the pact will be compilation releases, and not entire programs originally aired by the network.
Vestron went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1985 with what was, at the time, a large market cap initial public offering (IPO) of $440 million, which was oversubscribed. The company enjoyed success for several years, at one point exceeding 10% of the US video movie market. At its high point sales approximated $350 million annually, and the company sold video movies in over 30 countries either directly or through sub-licensing agreements. This was a rights business, built by people who saw the value in video (VCR) rights to films before the major studios did. Eventually they recognized the market potential and film products became increasingly harder for Vestron to acquire. Also, independent producers increased the price of what was available.
On June 18, 1986, the company had inked an agreement with Zupnik Enterprises to release five titles on videocassette, with the company's predecessor, Zupnik/Curtis Enterprises, once had an agreement with Thorn EMI/HBO Video to distribute films. On June 25, 1986, the company had inked an agreement with film producer and distributor Hemdale Film Corporation, whereas Vestron would obtain home video rights to the Hemdale film library, for the North American region, such as Platoon, in an extension of the previous licensing agreement that saw the company to release films like Hoosiers and At Close Range.
In 1986, Vestron was rumored to buy independent film distributor Producers Sales Organization, but the deal collapsed, shut PSO down outright, forced into bankruptcy, and instead launched Producers Distribution Organization, with its PSO employees hired by the studio. The company was then renamed Producers Distribution International, then Interaccess Film Distribution, the foreign sales firm that was controlled by the studio on October 8, 1986, and reflects the company's commitment to provide an international network of distributors, with access of quality, independently produced product.
The company would then drop its PDO tag, forcing the company to make several deals, and the predecessor Producers Sales Organization, would have output deals with Zupnik Enterprises, Taft-Barish Productions, and a picture-by-picture agreement with RKO Pictures, and films from these agreements would not all flow into Interaccess easily as what the staff ever did, and decided that they would revert to the film's producers, and the company would be free to renegotiate the output deals or producers in order to take their business elsewhere, and represents the first three titles delivered by PSO, such as The Princess Bride, and two RKO productions Hamburger Hill and Hot Pursuit, and the third was a remake of the 1956 film And God Created Woman. It is unclear that producers will honor deals already completed by PSO for these films.
On October 1, 1986, Vestron Video is revamping their internal structure on non-theatricals, which promoted the head of the Children's Video Library label, C.J. Kettler, to film acquisition vice president, and shifted the existing operations of Children's Video Library under the supervision of Michael Wiese, who is now heading a new non-theatrical programming unit as vice president of the studio, and Kettler would manage the Vestron team of buyers and manage contracts, and head the feature film acquisition effort.
On October 15, 1986, Vestron Video International had signed its own deals, in Italy with regional video distributor Domovideo, which covered 35 titles that would came from the Vestron catalog, including upcoming theatrical features, and in Korea with local video distributor Oasis Video Productions, with the first product covering multiple titles will be offered to video stores this fall. On November 26, 1986, Vestron rejected a takeover bid from the magazine publisher National Lampoon, of which they tried to purchase earlier that year, and Vestron and National Lampoon received 1985 revenue, and seeking other alternatives in a takeover bid.
In March 1987, Vestron Video and Granada Television, the UK ITV franchisee holder had inked an agreement to release titles via its back catalog in its exclusive licensing deal into the buoyant of the UK sell-through market, which included Granada's serial programming like The Jewel in the Crown and Brideshead Revisited, together with special compilations from Granada's own ITV franchisee show Coronation Street, and Vestron held the Granada catalog as the then-world record of largest catalog yet with a single licensed in the programming with 26 titles so far, and will release 12 Granada titles a year for the company.
That year, on June 3, 1987, the Vestron Video-Hemdale Film Corporation lawsuit was challenged by a rival home video distributor Nelson Entertainment, which was not named by the company in the lawsuit, filed because it has the same rights to the 12 Hemdale pictures under almost identical terms as the arrangement Vestron is trying to be enforced, and the deal decided to add another film to the mix, High Tide, that brings advance for $3 million. In July 1987, Vestron Inc. had exercised an option to purchase a Cincinnati-area video store The Video Store, which could consist of 10 stores and owner Jack Messer would gave them another 14 during the July–October period. That year, in August 1987, Vestron had promoted Michael Karaffa to sales vice president and Adam Platnick to business affairs vice president, while the company also saw more layoffs that they wanted to go, including former executives, namely Raymond Bernstein and Gordon Bossin, which of them both had layoffs in May.
The company started to make its own films (Dirty Dancing, Earth Girls Are Easy, Blue Steel), but when the market's preferences matured, and shifted from watching almost any film to just watching "A" titles, which was the majors' specialty, Vestron was already committed to about 20 "B" to low-"A" projects. In 1986, Vestron launched syndicated television distribution unit Vestron Television to syndicate Vestron films to local TV stations.
In 1987, the television unit had an outsourcing agreement with All American Television to handle syndication of such products. That year, Vestron Television International was formed, managed by executives from Interaccess Film Distribution, and Gregory Cascante, who was president of Interaccess was named president of Vestron Television International, which will be at the marketplace in reverse of new companies, usually series, miniseries and variety programming-oriented, looking for feature films to complement the product lineup and act as the locomotive, and Vestron is slowly growing to be a mature business for the company.
In 1987, Vestron Inc. had formed a new single unit, the Vestron International Group, with Jon Peisinger as president of the new division, which encompass Interaccess Film Distribution, Vestron Video International, Vestron Pictures International and Locus Video Group, with the announcement coming after Gregory Cascante has resigned as president of Interaccess Film Distribution, and the operation would have more centralizing Vestron offices in those regions. In late November 1987, Vestron Video is revamping their distribution network to get rid of 9 out of 23 distributors and enrolling the 14 in a new "Vestron Advantage" program designed to gave the distributors more incentives and a means to market to sell Vestron tapes more efficiently and the strategy is carefully watched by the industry and could set a pattern for things to come at some competing program suppliers.
The company would make its first top-selling title in 1988 with the hit release of the home video version of the hit Vestron Pictures film Dirty Dancing, with prices using an $89.98 price for top titles, and would mark the company's first big film to handle sponsorship on exceeds of Vestron's home video standards. In 1988, it attempted to enter the primetime television market with a television series version of Dirty Dancing for CBS, but the project fell after one season.
The company's financing fell through and it eventually filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, and was bought out on January 11, 1991, by Los Angeles-based LIVE Entertainment, a home video and music company, for $27.3 million. LIVE acquired Vestron's extensive (3,000 plus) film library; Vestron executive Kevin Kasha was hired by LIVE to relaunch the VESTRON VIDEO label and titles continued to be released under the Vestron name until 1992, with LIVE distributing these releases. The International branches were split up and sold off after the bankruptcy during 1991, the UK branch was sold a year prior to Welsh ITV franchise holder HTV and renamed to First Independent Films. Vestron also sold off its TV holdings, including 160 films, TV specials and series to Pandora Group, which was based in Paris, in 1990 and decided to invest their money.
Their international divisions itself were the second largest after Warner Bros., Vestron had many direct theatrical, video and TV distribution offices around the world in major markets, and owned a video manufacturing plant in the Netherlands to supply European markets. Today, most of Vestron Video's holdings are owned by Lions Gate Entertainment, which acquired LIVE's forerunner company, Artisan Entertainment, in 2003.
Vestron, Inc.'s subsidiaries included:
On August 1, 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment announced its resurrection of the Vestron Video brand as a Blu-ray and DVD reissue label for Vestron and other Lionsgate-owned horror films, similar to boutique labels like Scream Factory and Blue Underground. This line, dubbed the Vestron Video Collector's Series, is branded with an updated version of the first Vestron Video logo from 1982 to 1986 and began with Blu-ray releases of the cult films Chopping Mall (an outside theatrical release) and Blood Diner (released by Lightning Pictures) on September 27, 2016.
|#||Title||Home Video Release||Theatrical Release||Original Distributor||Format(s)||Notes|
|01||Chopping Mall||September 27, 2016||March 21, 1986||Concorde Pictures||Blu-ray|
|02||Blood Diner||July 10, 1987||Lightning Pictures||Blu-ray|
|03||Waxwork||October 18, 2016||June 17, 1988||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray||Double Feature|
|Waxwork II: Lost in Time||June 16, 1992||Electric Pictures|
|04||Return of the Living Dead 3||November 22, 2016||October 29, 1993||Trimark Pictures||Blu-ray|
|05||C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D.||September 27, 1989||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|06||The Lair of the White Worm||January 31, 2017||September 14, 1988||Blu-ray|
|07||Parents||January 27, 1989||Blu-ray|
|08||The Gate||February 28, 2017||May 15, 1987||New Century Vista Film Company
|09||Wishmaster||March 28, 2017||September 19, 1997||LIVE Entertainment||Blu-ray||4-Film Set|
|Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies||August 17, 1999||Artisan Entertainment|
|Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell||October 23, 2001|
|Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled||October 22, 2002|
|10||The Unholy||June 27, 2017||April 22, 1988||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|11||Warlock||July 25, 2017||January 11, 1991||Trimark Pictures
New World Pictures
|Warlock: The Armageddon||September 24, 1993||Trimark Pictures|
|Warlock III: The End of Innocence||October 12, 1999||Trimark Pictures|
|12||Slaughter High||October 31, 2017||November 14, 1986||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|13||Gothic||January 30, 2018||April 10, 1987||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|14||Class of 1999||May 11, 1990||Lightning Pictures||Blu-ray|
|15||Beyond Re-Animator||July 24, 2018||April 4, 2003||Lions Gate Entertainment||Blu-ray|
|16||Dagon||October 31, 2001||Lions Gate Entertainment||Blu-ray|
|17||Maximum Overdrive||October 23, 2018||July 25, 1986||De Laurentiis Entertainment Group||Blu-ray|
|18||Shivers||September 15, 2020||October 10, 1975||Cinepix||Blu-ray|
|19||Little Monsters||August 25, 1989||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|20||The Wraith||July 20, 2021||November 21, 1986||New Century Vista Film Company||Blu-ray|
|21||Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat||August 17, 2021||October 23, 1991||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|22||Dementia 13||September 21, 2021||September 25, 1963||American International Pictures||Blu-ray|
|23||Steel Dawn||October 26, 2021||November 6, 1987||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|24||Candyman: Day of the Dead||January 18, 2022||July 9, 1999||Artisan Entertainment||Blu-ray|
|25||Dream a Little Dream||March 15, 2022||March 3, 1989||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|26.||Extreme Prejudice||May 17, 2022||April 24, 1987||Carolco Pictures||Blu-ray|
|27.||Earth Girls Are Easy||November 8, 2022||May 12, 1989||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
Vestron 1981 founded.