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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Type Division of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Industry DVD
Founded November 1979
Headquarters 10202 West Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, United States
Area served Worldwide
Key people Man Jit Singh
Parent Sony Corporation
Subsidiaries Sony Wonder
Website SPHE website

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


  • Background 1
  • History 2
  • Australian subsidiary 3
  • Sub-labels 4
    • International sub-labels 4.1
    • Australian video distribution (with CEL Home Video) 4.2
  • SPHE and MGM 5
  • Criticism 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • External links 8


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.[1]

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.

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


It was established in November 1979 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, releasing 20 titles:[2] 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.[3] The venture distributed NBC titles, as it was a subsidiary of RCA at the time.

In March 1990, NBC filed suit 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.[4] As the lawsuit continued into 1991, General Electric, the parent of NBC and RCA, announced that it was divesting its interest in RCA/Columbia.[5] In August 1991, General Electric sold its 50% share of the company to Sony Corporation, and the litigation officially ended.[6] It was named Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment until a name change to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on November 30, 2004.[7]

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 Films 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 Media's Anchor Bay Entertainment for worldwide DVD releases, with the exceptions of North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom.[8]

On February 21, 2010, The Weinstein Company made a DVD distribution deal with SPHE through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.[9] 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.[10]

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. [11]

On February 18, 2013, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Australian joint venture with Universal Studios Home Entertainment will license Anime 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.[12] On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment signed a deal with SPHE to distribute SPE's 665 films and 54 television series on DVD.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15]

Australian subsidiary

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 shows like 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 lesser-known Columbia, TriStar, and Triumph releases (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.
    • 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.
  • Superbit

International sub-labels

  • 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.[16] From 1995-1998 films were released distributors Varus Video.
  • 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 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)

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.[17]


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.[18] 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.[19]

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.


  • Sony has been criticized by many DVD consumers for business practices they find bothersome; for instance, several films (ranging from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner to Moscow on the Hudson) that were made available with a widescreen and pan-and-scan version on either side were reissued as pan-and-scan only titles. There was also discontent over their decision to release pan-and-scan-only versions of Annie, Matilda, and Castle Keep, but only in the case of the final film did the director, Sydney Pollack, intervene and get a widescreen version issued. John Huston, director of Annie, died in 1987, and Danny DeVito did not comment on the DVD of his film Matilda. Annie in particular has a strange DVD history; the original 2000 DVD featured both widescreen and pan-and-scan versions of this 1982 Panavision musical, but the widescreen version was misframed, but later repressed.[20] However, the corrected version was pulled and replaced with a pan-and-scan only "Special Anniversary Edition" (with a DTS soundtrack) in 2004, while other countries received widescreen versions of the reissue. Similarly, Ghostbusters II and White Nights were released on Laserdisc letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, even though both titles were shot in anamorphic 2.35:1. The DVD of Ghostbusters II corrects this problem, but White Nights is still incorrectly displayed at 1.85:1. Annie was eventually released on Blu-ray in 2012 for its 30th Anniversary Edition, resolving the issue with the 2004 DVD.
  • In another incident, the third-season DVD set of Married... with Children did not feature the Frank Sinatra theme song "Love and Marriage" due to a licensing dispute between SPHE and the publishers of the song. Many fans were upset that the theme had to be replaced, and it has been replaced on all subsequent sets.[21]
  • Also, some episodes of TV series the studio has released on DVD have been edited syndication versions, though most episodes are the unedited versions. One recent offense is a whole story point missing from volume 1 of Norman Lear's satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman).[22]
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is also known to release older TV shows very slowly and then go into hiatus, e.g. All in the Family, One Day at a Time, Mad About You, Fantasy Island, Silver Spoons, The Jeffersons, Maude, Hart to Hart, Who's The Boss?, 227, and others, either because of poor sales or difficulties securing music rights. However, some shows went into release limbo but have since reappeared such as The Partridge Family, Barney Miller, Charlie's Angels, and The Nanny. For other shows such as Designing Women, The Facts of Life, "Diff'rent Strokes", and Mad About You, the rights have been acquired by Shout! Factory,[23] under SPHE's license, for further DVD releases.
  • Another criticism that was initially (mistakenly) levelled at Apple and iTunes was in the case of the last eight episodes of the popular TV series Breaking Bad. Sony, along with the US television network that broadcast Breaking Bad (AMC), decided to split the last season of Breaking Bad into two blocks of eight episodes. Instead of treating these as two individual seasons, which would have resulted in potentially costly renegotiations with cast and crew, Sony and AMC decided to treat them as one split season. This would have gone relatively unnoticed, except for the fact that Sony and AMC were not content to charge consumers only once for the season; when it became clear that the final eight episodes would be released under the ambiguously-titled 'Final Season', there was outrage amongst fans who - rightfully - complained that Sony and AMC were on dubious moral, if not legal, ground in treating the last 16 episodes as a single season in one context (Season 5 for cast and crew purposes), and two seasons ('The Fifth Season' and 'The Final Season' for consumer purposes) in another. One individual threatened a lawsuit to Apple/iTunes[24] and as a result Apple/iTunes then decided to offer up a credit to consumers who purchased the season pass to the fifth season, possibly at their own expense. The tone of the email sent by Apple indicated the parties who were actually at fault - Sony and AMC. It is unclear, but Sony and AMC may have reacted to this by how they treated the hastily-issued 'Deluxe Edition' for the 'Final Season' on iTunes. Instead of following the previous season 'Deluxe Edition' releases, which reissued their episodes in an uncensored form (the respective initial season passes followed the AMC TV-14 censorship) along with a large amount of the DVD/Blu-ray special features, including all the audio commentaries, the lacklustre treatment given to the final eight episodes consisted of tacking a much-reduced set of bonus material (with only half the audio commentaries) onto the TV-14 release, simultaneously leaving the censorship present.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Sony Home Ent. Takes Over Sony Wonder Rick DeMott, Retrieved on August 28, 2013
  2. ^ History of home video
  3. ^ Billboard (30 October 1982, p. 4).
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ THE MEDIA BUSINESS; G.E. Sells Its 50% Stake In Video Unit,
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "Sony Pictures Renames Columbia TriStar". November 19, 2004. Retrieved July 19, 2013. Sony Pictures Entertainment announced yesterday (Nov. 18) that its home-entertainment division, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, will now be called Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE). The name change will take effect with the Nov. 30 DVD release of 'Spider-Man 2.' 
  8. ^ Affiliation between SPHE and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
  9. ^ Weinstein Company Seals Sony DVD Deal,
  10. ^ "BusinessWire" Image Entertainment Partners with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Retrieved on January 9, 2013
  12. ^ "Anime News Network" Universal Sony Home Pictures Australia, Retrieved on February 18, 2013
  14. ^ "Deadline" Sony Pictures Home Ent. Boss David Bishop Departing, Retrieved on December 19, 2013
  15. ^ "Deadline" Sony Pictures Names New Home Ent. Chief, Retrieved on January 7, 2014
  16. ^ Клиенты. Retrieved on 2013-08-23.
  18. ^ "Sony Home Video Chief Feingold Exits; MGM Vet Steps In". High-Def Digest. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  19. ^ Sony finalizing distribution and co-financing deal with MGM, including next two 'Bond' films,
  20. ^ [3]
  21. ^ Married... with Children DVD news: What's going on with season 3?. (2007-05-25). Retrieved on 2013-08-23.
  22. ^ Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - Volume 1 : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video. Retrieved on 2013-08-23.
  23. ^ -Season-1-Press-Release/11524 TV Shows on DVD Press Release
  24. ^ [4] Retrieved on 2014-01-15

External links

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