Castle Rock Entertainment

Castle Rock Entertainment is an American film and television production company founded in 1987[1] by Martin Shafer, director Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, Glenn Padnick and Alan Horn. It is a subsidiary of Warner Bros.[2]

Castle Rock Entertainment
FoundedJune 19, 1987 (1987-06-19)
ProductsMotion pictures
ServicesFilm production
ParentWarner Bros. 


Reiner named the company in honor of the Maine town that serves as the setting of several stories by Stephen King, after the success of his film Stand by Me, which was based on The Body, a novella by King.[3]

Reiner and Scheinman already had a production company. They were friends with Shafer, who worked with Horn at 20th Century Fox at the time. Horn was disappointed at Fox and agreed to join the trio at forming the company. Horn brought along Padnick, who was an executive at Embassy Television. In Castle Rock, Horn became the CEO, Shafer ran the film division, Padnick ran TV, and Reiner and Scheinman became involved in the development of productions.[3]

The company was originally backed by The Coca-Cola Company, then the parent company of Columbia Pictures. Coca-Cola and Castle Rock's founders jointly owned stakes in the company.[4] Months after the deal, Coca-Cola exited the entertainment business, and was succeeded by Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc..

In 1989, Castle Rock was supported by another backer, Group W, a subsidiary of Westinghouse.[5] Castle Rock later struck a deal with Nelson Entertainment, the company that owned the domestic home video rights to Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, and The Princess Bride, to co-finance Castle Rock's films.

Under the deal, Nelson also distributed the films on video in North American markets, and handled international theatrical distribution, while Columbia, which Nelson forged a distribution deal with, would receive domestic theatrical distribution rights. Some of Nelson's holdings were later acquired by New Line Cinema, which took over Nelson's duty. Columbia, shortly after the company's formation, thereafter had to re-invest with a substantial change in terms when accumulated losses exhausted its initial funding.

Reiner has stated that Castle Rock's purpose was to allow creative freedom to individuals; a safe haven away from the pressures of studio executives. Castle Rock was to make films of the highest quality, whether they made or lost money.[3]

Castle Rock has also produced several television shows, including the sitcom Seinfeld.

Turner purchase and WarnerMedia ownership

In August 1993, Turner Broadcasting System agreed to acquire Castle Rock, along with co-financing partner New Line Cinema. The sale was completed on December 22, 1993.[6][7] The motivation behind the purchase was to allow a stronger company to handle the overhead.[3]

By 1994, Castle Rock launched a foreign sales operation, Castle Rock International, and planned to produce 12-15 films annually.[8] Castle Rock also had aspirations to distribute its own films once its deal with Columbia expired in 1998.[8][9]

Turner Broadcasting later merged with Time Warner in 1996. After a failed attempt to divest the company, Time Warner integrated Castle Rock Entertainment into Warner Bros., and cut its production slate to five films per year.[9] On June 27, 1997, Castle Rock's staff was reduced to 60 employees and Castle Rock International was folded into Warner Bros.[10]

In January 1998, Warner and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment formed a deal to co-finance and co-distribute Castle Rock films; that deal was taken over by Universal Pictures after said studio's parent company Seagram merged with PolyGram later that year. The Warner/Universal deal expired in 2000.[11]

In April 2002, Warner Bros reduced Castle Rock Entertainment's budget following a string of box office bombs. Castle Rock fired 16 of its 46 employees, and Castle Rock's physical production and public relations departments, back-office duties, and remaining employees were absorbed into Warner Bros.[12]

Ownership of the Castle Rock library

Currently, Warner Bros. owns the copyrights and overall rights to most of the Castle Rock films and television shows from the pre-1994 and post-1994 eras, with a few notable exceptions. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer owns the worldwide home video rights to most of the pre-1994 films after the purchase of the pre-1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library in 1999. [13][14][15][16] A Few Good Men, In the Line of Fire and the domestic rights to North are under Castle Rock's former partner, Sony Pictures. Warner Bros. holds the distribution rights to The Spirit of '76 due to most of these films not being co-produced by Nelson or New Line Cinema. The international rights to The American President and the domestic rights to The Last Days of Disco and The Story of Us are under Universal Pictures. Warner Bros. owns the worldwide home video rights to the post-1994 library after the Time Warner-Turner merger in 1996 and also owns the worldwide television and digital rights to the pre-1994 library.



  1. Fabrikant, Geraldine (7 August 1993). "COMPANY NEWS; Turner Move To Purchase Movie Studio". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  2. "EX-21 SUBSIDIARIES OF TIME WARNER INC". Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  3. Herman, Karen (November 29, 2004). "Interview with Rob Reiner". Archive of American Television. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  4. Turner, Melissa (14 October 1987). "Coca-Cola division invests in film production company". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. p. 20 via
  5. "GROUP W TO INVEST IN CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT". Daily News of Los Angeles. MediaStream Inc. Knight-Ridder Inc. November 14, 1989 via
  6. "Turner Broadcasting Company Report". Securities and Exchange Commission. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  7. "Done deal: Turner Broadcasting System Inc. said it closed..." Chicago Tribune. December 25, 1993. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  8. Cox, Dan (February 4, 1994). "Castle Rock gets intl". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC.
  9. Cox, Dan (December 7, 1997). "Castle Rock near split-rights deal". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC.
  10. Cox, Dan (June 9, 1997). "Time Warner takes toll: Castle Rock staff halved". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC.
  11. Harris, Dana (June 19, 2000). "Telco at Castle door". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC.
  12. Harris, Dana (April 30, 2002). "Castle Rock cuts 16 as WB clamps down on coin". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC.
  13. Eller, Claudia (October 23, 1998). "MGM Agrees to Acquire PolyGram Movie Library". Los Angeles Times.
  14. Frankel, Daniel (October 22, 1998). "NEWS/ MGM Acquires Lion's Share of PolyGram". E! News. EOnline. NBCUniversal. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  15. Bloomberg News (October 23, 1998). "Company News; MGM Says it Will Buy Polygram's Movie Library". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 3.
  16. "Warner Bros., PolyGram Near Financing Deal". Los Angeles Times. December 6, 1997. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
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