PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

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PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Type Subsidiary
Predecessor Casablanca Filmworks
Founded1979;43 years ago (1979)
Founders Peter Guber
Jon Peters
Defunct1999;23 years ago (1999)
FateAcquired by Seagram and folded into Universal Pictures
Successors Universal Pictures
Owner Philips (1980–1998)
Seagram (1998–1999)
Parent PolyGram (1980–1998)
Universal Pictures (1998–1999)
Divisions PolyGram Television
PolyGram Video

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (formerly known as PolyGram Films and PolyGram Pictures or simply PFE) was a British film studio founded in 1979 which became a European competitor to Hollywood, but was eventually sold to Seagram Company Ltd. in 1998 and was folded in 1999. Among its most successful and well known films were An American Werewolf in London (1981), Flashdance (1983), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Usual Suspects (1995), The Game (1997) and Notting Hill (1999).

Contents

In 1979, PolyGram created PolyGram Pictures in a partnership with Peter Guber. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, PolyGram continued to invest in a diversified film unit with the purchases of individual production companies. In 1995, PolyGram purchased ITC Entertainment for $156 million. In May 1998, PolyGram was sold to Seagram, which owned Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group, for $10 billion. Seagram sold off some of PolyGram's assets while mainly acquiring its music division. The ITC Entertainment library was sold to Carlton Communications for £91 million, the pre-April 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and PolyGram's US distributor was sold to USA Networks. After many of its assets were sold, the remains of PolyGram's film division was folded into Universal Pictures. When the newly formed entertainment division of Seagram faced financial difficulties, it was sold to Vivendi, and MCA became known as Universal Studios, as Seagram ceased to exist. Vivendi remained the majority owner of the Universal Music Group until 2021, when it sold most of its stake, MGM owns the rights to most of the pre-1996 library, and the remaining film and television library is owned by NBCUniversal. In 2017, Universal Music Group established a film and television division, resurrecting the PolyGram Entertainment name. [1]

History

PolyGram Pictures

The music company PolyGram (owned by Dutch-based Philips and Germany's Siemens) created PolyGram Pictures in 1979 as a partnership with film producer Peter Guber. It was a spin-off of sorts to Casablanca FilmWorks, the film unit of PolyGram's Casablanca Records which Guber previously ran and had success with The Deep and Midnight Express . PolyGram reserved the finances and Guber would run as CEO. Guber would form a partnership with Barbra Streisand's hairdresser Jon Peters, who co-produced his client's A Star Is Born remake. Peters would produce PolyGram's films, and eventually become a stockholder with Guber. [2]

Its first film was King of the Mountain (1981), which was a box-office flop. More money-losers followed. Ancillary markets such as home video and pay television were not yet established, and broadcast television networks were paying less for licenses to films. PolyGram's European investors were not happy; they had lost about $80 million on its film division. Not long after, Siemens parted with Philips. Guber and Peters left PolyGram Pictures in 1982, taking their plans for a new Batman movie with them, along with a few other projects. The duo eventually found a home at Warner Bros. A part of their exit proceedings, PolyGram would still own 7.5% of profits from some of its projects, including the 1989 Batman film. [2] Also that year, PolyGram launched a syndicated television division PolyGram Television, both the film and TV units would eventually close down by 1983. [3]

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

In the early 1980s, PolyGram Video was launched. PolyGram Video, headed by Michael Kuhn and David Hockman, was created to distribute concert films and feature films acquired from third-parties, as well as long-form music videos, and even had a video label, originally set up as a joint venture with Heron Communications, that was called Channel 5 Video. [4] Kuhn and Hockman were able to parlay PolyGram Video's success into financing feature films. The first film produced by PolyGram's new film division was P.I. Private Investigations in 1987. [5] During the late 1980s and early 1990s, PolyGram continued to invest in a diversified film unit with the purchases of individual production companies. [6] In 1989, PolyGram launched Manifesto Film Sales to handle the licensing of films outside North America. [7] In 1991, PolyGram's Michael Kuhn became the head of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, [6] with US$200 million pumped in with the intention of developing a European film studio that could produce and distribute films internationally on a scale to match the major Hollywood studios.

Following the style of its music business, the company produced films through a number of creatively semi-autonomous 'labels', such as Working Title Films in the UK and Propaganda Films and Interscope Communications in the United States; It also built up its own network of distribution companies.

Film production within PolyGram differed from traditional Hollywood studios, in that power to make ('green light') a film was not centralised in the hands of a small number of executives, but instead was decided by negotiations between producers, management and marketing. Kuhn claimed that "movies sort of green lit themselves."

In 1993, PolyGram purchased the video arm of Virgin Group from General Electric Capital for $5.6 million and remodeled the label as Vision Video Ltd.

PolyGram also built up a sizable film and television library that could be profitable. In 1995, the company purchased ITC Entertainment for $156 million. [8] Through this purchase, PolyGram acquired 350 feature films, several thousand hours of television programming, and gained further access into the television market. [6] That same year, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment acquired a 75% majority stake in British home video distributor Abbey Home Entertainment. In 1997, PFE agreed to purchase the Epic film library, which included a thousand feature films, from Crédit Lyonnais for $225 million. [9] PolyGram also attempted purchasing MGM [10] and The Samuel Goldwyn Company's library, [11] but to no avail. In July 1998, Polygram was in talks to sell their stake in Abbey Home Entertainment back to Ian and Anne Miles, letting AHE trade independently again. On December 7, 1997, PolyGram and Warner Bros. reached a deal to co-finance films produced by Castle Rock Entertainment. [12]

PFE was based in the United Kingdom, and invested heavily in British film making — some credit it with reviving the British film industry in the 1990s. Despite a successful production history, Philips decided to sell PolyGram to the beverage (liquor) conglomerate Seagram in 1998.

Only interested in PolyGram's music operations, Seagram, which at the time controlled Universal Pictures, looked forward to divesting in PFE. After being dissatisfied with offers to buy the studio (including a joint venture between Canal+ and Artisan Entertainment), Seagram opted to sell off individual assets and folded whatever remained into Universal. [13] In October 1998, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) [14] paid $235–250 million to acquire 1,300 films released before March 31, 1996, from PolyGram. [15] In 1999, the ITC library was sold to Carlton Communications (later known as ITV Studios) for $150 million. [16] Some of PFE's North American distribution assets were sold to USA Networks. [17] Universal would later take over the remaining titles which included a third of the pre-1996 films as well as PolyGram Television's library. Universal would eventually set up their international arm on the ashes of PFE's international division on February 9, 1999, that included theatrical and video distribution when its contracts with United International Pictures and CIC Video expired. [18] After Mickey Blue Eyes flopped, which served as UPI's last film (one of the few titles that were self-distributed by Universal internationally), being inherited from PolyGram, all the theatrical assets of Universal Pictures International was merged with United International Pictures, which remained through 2007. [19]

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment took over the distribution of Manga Entertainment's titles in Australia and New Zealand in late 1996 after Siren Entertainment's license to the Manga Video catalogue expired, but PolyGram lost the license to the Manga Video catalogue in 1998 after Madman Entertainment took over the licenses. This was due to Manga Entertainment being moved from Island Records to Palm Pictures.

Relaunch as PolyGram Entertainment

Production companies

US distribution

In 1992, PolyGram partnered with Universal Pictures to create a joint venture called Gramercy Pictures. Gramercy primarily distributed PolyGram films in the US, and it doubled as a specialty label for Universal. In January 1996, PolyGram bought out Universal [21] and in 1997, PolyGram Films was founded to release PFE's mainstream titles in the US, while Gramercy became a low-budget/art-house sublabel. [22] [23] PolyGram Films' first release was The Game . [23] [21] After PolyGram's merger with Universal in 1999, the company merged Gramercy with October Films, which included its subsidiary Rogue Pictures [24] to create USA Films, which eventually became Focus Features. Gramercy was revived in 2015 as a label of Focus Features, [25] but shut down and went dormant the next year.

Selected films

Among the films directly produced by PFE were:

1980s

Release DateTitleNotes
29 February 1980 Foxes co-production with United Artists
30 May 1980 The Hollywood Knights co-production with Columbia Pictures
1 May 1981 King of the Mountain released by Universal Pictures
17 July 1981 Endless Love co-production with Universal Pictures
14 August 1981 Deadly Blessing released by United Artists
21 August 1981 An American Werewolf in London co-production with Universal Pictures
13 November 1981 The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper co-production with Universal Pictures
12 March 1982 Missing co-production with Universal Pictures
3 October 1982 Split Image released by Orion Pictures
24 December 1982 Six Weeks released by Universal Pictures
15 April 1983 Flashdance co-production with Paramount Pictures
13 December 1985 A Chorus Line co-production with Columbia Pictures and Embassy Pictures
13 December 1985 Clue co-production with Paramount Pictures
22 April 1988 The Blue Iguana co-production with Paramount Pictures
24 March 1989 Troop Beverly Hills co-production with Weintraub Entertainment Group
23 June 1989 Batman co-production with Warner Bros. and Guber-Peters Company
8 December 1989 Fear, Anxiety & Depression co-production with The Samuel Goldwyn Company

1990s

Release DateTitleNotes
27 July 1990 Chicago Joe and the Showgirl co-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films
17 August 1990 Wild at Heart co-production with The Samuel Goldwyn Company (owned by MGM)
14 September 1990 Fools of Fortune co-production with New Line Cinema
24 May 1991 Drop Dead Fred co-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films
15 November 1991 Driving Me Crazy co-production with Motion Picture Corporation of America (owned by MGM)
17 January 1992 A Gnome Named Gnorm co-production with Vestron Pictures
27 March 1992 Ruby co-production with Triumph Films
19 June 1992 Batman Returns distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with DC Entertainment
7 August 1992 London Kills Me distributed by New Line Cinema; co-production with Fine Line Features
4 September 1992 Bob Roberts distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with Miramax Films, Live Entertainment and Working Title Films
16 October 1992 Candyman distributed by TriStar Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
23 April 1993 Map of the Human Heart distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Working Title Films
14 May 1993 Posse distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films (owned by MGM)
20 August 1993 The Ballad of Little Jo distributed by New Line Cinema; co-production with Fine Line Features
3 September 1993 Kalifornia distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films (owned by MGM)
1 October 1993 Malice distributed by Columbia Pictures; co-production with New Line Cinema, Castle Rock Entertainment and Nelvana
8 October 1993 The Young Americans distributed by Live Entertainment; co-production with Working Title Films (co-owned by Universal and Lionsgate)
5 November 1993 A Home of Our Own distributed by Gramercy Pictures (owned by MGM)
7 January 1994 The Air Up There distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
4 February 1994 Romeo Is Bleeding distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
Most 1994-95 PolyGram films currently owned by MGM
9 March 1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films and Channel Four Films
11 March 1994 The Hudsucker Proxy distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with Working Title Films and Silver Pictures
8 April 1994 Holy Matrimony distributed by Buena Vista Pictures; co-production with Hollywood Pictures and Interscope Communications
15 April 1994 Backbeat distributed by Gramercy Pictures (owned by Universal)
6 May 1994 Dream Lover distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
18 May 1994 Final Combination co-production with Propaganda Films
15 July 1994A Pig's Taledistributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment; co-production with Propaganda Films (owned by Universal)
10 August 1994 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert distributed by Gramercy Pictures
23 September 1994 Terminal Velocity distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
28 September 1994 Jason's Lyric distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
16 December 1994 Nell distributed by 20th Century Fox (co-owned by MGM and Disney)
20 January 1995 S.F.W. distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
10 February 1995 Shallow Grave distributed by Gramercy Pictures in the United States; Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International handled international distribution
24 February 1995 Before the Rain distributed by Gramercy Pictures (owned by Universal)
17 March 1995 Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
21 April 1995 The Basketball Diaries distributed by New Line Cinema; co-production with Island Pictures
3 May 1995 Panther distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
5 May 1995 French Kiss distributed by 20th Century Fox; co-production with Working Title Films
16 June 1995 Batman Forever distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with DC Entertainment
30 June 1995 Innocent Lies
28 July 1995 Operation Dumbo Drop distributed by Buena Vista Pictures; co-production with Walt Disney Pictures and Interscope Communications
16 August 1995 The Usual Suspects distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Bad Hat Harry Productions and Spelling Films
15 September 1995 Coldblooded distributed by IRS Media; co-production with Motion Picture Corporation of America and Propaganda Films (owned by Universal)
22 September 1995 Canadian Bacon distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
29 September 1995 Moonlight and Valentino distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
3 November 1995 Home for the Holidays distributed by Paramount Pictures
10 November 1995 Carrington distributed by Gramercy Pictures
15 December 1995 Jumanji distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing; co-production with TriStar Pictures and Interscope Communications
29 December 1995 Dead Man Walking distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
29 December 1995 Mr. Holland's Opus distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
9 February 1996 Loch Ness distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
23 February 1996 La Haine distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Le Studio Canal+ and Arte France Cinema
Most films released since this point are owned by Universal Pictures [26]
8 March 1996 Fargo distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films (owned by MGM)
22 March 1996 Jack and Sarah distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Granada Productions and Le Studio Canal+ (owned by MGM)
Land and Freedom distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
3 May 1996 Barb Wire distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
31 May 1996 Eddie distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Island Pictures (co-owned by Disney and MGM)
Final PolyGram film currently owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [27]
31 May 1996 The Arrival distributed by Orion Pictures; co-production with LIVE Entertainment, Steelework Films and Interscope Communications
17 July 1996 Walking and Talking distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films, Zenith Productions, Pandora Film, Mikado Films (France), Electric, TEAM Communications Group and Good Machine
17 July 1996 Kazaam distributed by Buena Vista Pictures; co-production with Touchstone Pictures and Interscope Communications
19 July 1996 Trainspotting distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films
18 October 1996 Sleepers distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with Propaganda Films
18 October 1996 Jude distributed by Gramercy Pictures
24 December 1996 The Portrait of a Lady distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
10 January 1997 The Relic distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with Tele-München Gruppe, BBC, Toho-Towa, Pacific Western Production, Marubeni and Cloud Nine Entertainment
29 January 1997 Gridlock'd distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
14 February 1997 When We Were Kings distributed by Gramercy Pictures
7 March 1997 The Eighth Day distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
11 April 1997 Keys to Tulsa distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with ITC Entertainment (owned by ITV Studios)
9 May 1997 Twin Town distributed by Gramercy Pictures
20 June 1997 Batman & Robin distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with DC Entertainment
6 August 1997 Def Jam's How to Be a Player distributed by Gramercy Pictures
24 August 1997 Snow White: A Tale of Terror co-production with Interscope Communications
12 September 1997 The Game distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Propaganda Films
19 September 1997 Going All the Way distributed by Gramercy Pictures
3 October 1997 The Matchmaker distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
24 October 1997 A Life Less Ordinary distributed by 20th Century Fox
7 November 1997 Bean distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
5 December 1997 The Borrowers distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Working Title Films
16 January 1998 Hard Rain distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with BBC Films, Mutual Film Company, Nordisk Film Production and Toho
23 January 1998 Spice World distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing; co-production with Columbia Pictures, Icon Productions and Fragile Films
The Gingerbread Man distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Island Pictures and Enchanter Entertainment
18 February 1998 I Want You distributed by Gramercy Pictures
26 February 1998 Dead Letter Office distributed by Southern Star Entertainment
6 March 1998 The Big Lebowski distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
27 March 1998 No Looking Back distributed by Gramercy Pictures
The Proposition distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Interscope Communications
Barney's Great Adventure: The Movie distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Lyrick Studios
1 May 1998 Wilde distributed by Sony Pictures Classics; co-production with BBC Films, Capitol Films and Pony Canyon
Go Now distributed by Gramercy Pictures
29 May 1998 The Last Days of Disco distributed by Gramercy Pictures in North America and Warner Bros. internationally; [28] co-production with Castle Rock Entertainment
12 June 1998 The Land Girls distributed by Gramercy Pictures
14 August 1998 Return to Paradise distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Propaganda Films and Tetragram
21 August 1998 Your Friends & Neighbors distributed by Gramercy Pictures
25 September 1998 Clay Pigeons distributed by Gramercy Pictures
2 October 1998 What Dreams May Come distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Interscope Communications
13 November 1998 Thursday distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
22 November 1998 Elizabeth distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with StudioCanal, Working Title Films and Channel Four Films
25 November 1998 Very Bad Things distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Interscope Communications
22 January 1999 The Hi-Lo Country distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
February 1999Chokedistributed by PolyGram Visual Programming; co-production with Propaganda Films
5 March 1999 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with The Steve Tisch Company, SKA Films, HandMade Films and Summit Entertainment
1 April 1999Millionaire Dogsdistributed by Pop Twist Entertainment in U.S.; co-production with Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg, EIV Entertainment Invest GmbH & Company KG, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen and Benchmark Entertainment
28 May 1999 Notting Hill distributed by Universal Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
9 July 1999 Arlington Road distributed by Screen Gems; co-production with Lakeshore Entertainment
1 October 1999 Plunkett & Macleane distributed by USA Films; co-production with Working Title Films

See also

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Further reading