Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the home video distribution arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation.

Background Edit

SPHE is responsible for the distribution of the Sony Pictures library for home entertainment, mainly releases from the Columbia TriStar 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 product from Revolution Studios. Since June 20, 2007, SPHE now handles its former Sony BMG kids label, Sony Wonder.

They are also responsible for their television shows from the Sony Pictures Television library from 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, they have distributed television titles not owned by Sony, such as the Animorphs series from Scholastic Productions, and Rovio Entertainment's Angry Birds Toons, Angry Birds Stella and Piggy Tales.

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

History Edit

It was established in November 1979 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, releasing 20 titles: The Anderson Tapes, Bell, Book and Candle, Born Free, Breakout, Buck and the Preacher, The Deep, Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River, Emmanuelle, Eyes of Laura Mars, Fun with Dick and Jane, The Harder They Fall, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, A Man for All Seasons, Midnight Express, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mysterious Island, The New Centurions, Shamus, The Taming of the Shrew, You Light Up My Life, Taxi Driver and When a Stranger Calls.

In June 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. The venture distributed NBC titles, as it was a subsidiary of RCA at the time.

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. As the lawsuit continued into 1991, General Electric, the parent of NBC and RCA, announced that it was divesting its interest in RCA/Columbia. 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. It was named Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment from 2001 until a name change to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in November 2004.

As RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video and as Columbia TriStar Home Video, the company also distributed many films from New Line Cinema and a number from CineTel Films as well as films from Miramax on VHS. Columbia TriStar Home Video also distributed tapes from Turner Home Entertainment in the UK from 1994 to 1997.

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

On February 21, 2010, The Weinstein Company made a DVD distribution deal with SPHE through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. 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.

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.

On February 18, 2013, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Australian joint venture with Universal Studios Home Entertainment will license anime television series in Australia in early 2013 with its initial titles: A Certain Magical Index, Shakugan no Shana, and Armitage III, scheduled for release on April 24, 2013. On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment signed a deal with SPHE to distribute 665 SPE films and 54 television series on DVD. On December 18, 2013, SPHE president David Bishop announced he will leave when his contract expires in March 2014. David Bishop was president of SPHE since 2006 after leaving MGM Home Entertainment.

On January 6, 2014, it was announced that Man Jit Singh will replace Bishop after his contract expires in March. Man Jit Singh was the CEO of SPT's Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd., who was overseeing SPT's Indian Networks. Singh however, will not leave then Indian market, as he has been overseeing SPT's Indian TV market since 2009.

On July 22, 2015, SPHE and Transmission Films has reached a multi-year distribution pact to release the Transmission Films library in Australia (through Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia Pty Limited) and in New Zealand. It began on October 1.

Australian subsidiary Edit

The Australian operations was a joint venture between RCA/Columbia Pictures Video and local cinema company Hoyts. It was known as RCA-Columbia Pictures-Hoyts Video, and released many local films (mainly those distributed by Hoyts, as well as Cannon Films) in addition to Columbia Pictures titles. Prior to this, some releases were handled through CEL. In the early 1990s, the company was renamed Columbia TriStar Hoyts Home Video, before Hoyts dropped out of the partnership.


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

  • Magic Window - Children's titles (including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and The Real Ghostbusters, as well as classic Columbia/UPA cartoons).
  • RCA-Columbia Pictures International Video - International films (some of these were released by CEL in Australia).
  • SVS-Triumph - Some low-profile Columbia, TriStar, and New Line releases, and releases from Triumph Films (it was originally founded in 1979 as Sony Video Services and was renamed after the formation of Sony Pictures, to be used briefly in-between the ending of the RCA joint venture and the formation of Columbia-TriStar).
  • Musicvision - A short-lived music video division of RCA/Columbia Pictures HV in the mid-1980s.
  • Columbia Classics - A label releasing classic films on DVD by Columbia Pictures; it was previously used for VHS and LaserDisc releases as well.
  • Screen Classics by Request- A new service available on the web, where classic films are pressed and ordered directly from Sony, similar to Warner Bros.' "Warner Archive" brand. A similar service called "Choice Collection" also exists, but is pressed and ordered directly from Warner, via the systems used for the "Warner Archive" titles.
  • Superbit

International sub-labelsEdit

  • Gaumont-Columbia-RCA Video - A French home video label that released films by Gaumont, Columbia Pictures, TriStar, and Triumph Films originally formed in 1982. It was later renamed as Gaumont/RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video in 1986 and Gaumont-Columbia TriStar Home Video in 1991.
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts Video Pty. Ltd. - An Australian home video label that released films by Hoyts Distribution, Cannon Films, Columbia Pictures, TriStar and Triumph Films originally formed in 1984. It was later renamed as Columbia TriStar Hoyts Home Video in 1991.
    • First Release Home Entertainment - A mixture of B-movies, Magic Window, music videos, TriStar, top TV shows, re-releases, Thames Video and some mainstream Hoyts/Columbia/Cannon/Triumph/other film releases in Australia.
    • Video Box Office - a mixture of B-movies, HBO and some mainstream releases in Australia.
  • 20/20 Vision - A British rental home video label that released films by TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Goldcrest Films International, New Line Cinema, Triumph Films, and Columbia Pictures.
  • VideoServis - A Russian home video label with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment that released films by Columbia Pictures, Monumental Pictures, TriStar and Screen Gems, created in 1994. After VideoServis sold Sony to CP Distribution (through Warner Home Video) in August 2014.
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Distribution UK Ltd. - A British home video label that distributes Fox Pathé Home Entertainment (including MGM Home Entertainment releases) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (including DreamWorks Home Entertainment and PolyGram Video releases).

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 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.

Australian video distribution (with CEL Home Video)Edit

  • Thorn EMI Video Australia
  • Embassy Home Entertainment
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video
  • Thames Video (1980s) (until ABC Video replaced distribution in 1990s)
  • The Cannon Group (until MGM Home Entertainment replaced distribution in 2000s)
  • Star Video
  • Australian Video
  • MGM/UA Home Video (until Roadshow Home Video replaced distribution in 1990s)

The international operations are a joint venture with Universal Studios Home Entertainment, a carry-over from the days that Universal's original international operations were as part of CIC Video, and the current international arm of USHE was known as PolyGram Video.

SPHE and MGM Edit

In 2005, when Sony and four partners acquired MGM from Kirk Kerkorian, SPHE held the domestic home entertainment rights to MGM's 4,000 film and 10,400 TV episode library, although those releases are still being distributed under the MGM DVD label. On May 31, 2006, MGM ended distribution deal with SPHE and transferred most of its output to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Sony owned 20% of MGM, but 20th had no controlling interest in MGM. 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. However, in February 2011, Sony regains full distribution rights to MGM Home Entertainment library under a deal that pays SPHE 8% in distribution fees (industry norm is 10%). Fox's deal distributing the MGM library worldwide was set to expire in September 2011, but it was extended for five more years on April 14, 2011.

SPHE also distributes Blood and Chocolate on DVD despite the fact that MGM distributed the film on its own in selected theaters. This is because MGM had the distribution rights for it before MGM was bought.