Cinema Center Films

Cinema Center Films (CCF) was the theatrical film production company of the CBS Television Network from 1967 to 1972. Its films were distributed by National General Pictures.[3] The production unit was located at the Republic Pictures lot, Hollywood and produced 30 films.[om 1]

Cinema Center Films
IndustryMotion pictures
SuccessorCBS Theatrical Films
Founded1967 (1967)
Defunct1972 (1972)
Area served
Key people
Gordon T. Stulberg[1]
$10 million loss (1971 est.)[2]


CBS chairman William S. Paley and Frank Stanton founded the network's first film division, Cinema Center Films, in 1967, with Gordon T. Stulberg as its first chief.[1]

In February 1967 CBS had bought the studios of Republic Pictures (which would be renamed CBS Studio Center) for $9.5 million.[om 1] The following month they announced Stulberg's appointment, stating they intended to make ten films a year at a cost of $3.5 million each on average. Paley and Stulberg met with Gulf & Western chairman Charles Bluhdorn, who had just acquired Paramount Pictures, in a search for a distributor, but Bluhdorn's over chumminess turned off Paley. Stulberg reported to John A. Schneider, CBS network president.[4]

The studio's first notable talent signing was with Doris Day[5] which resulted in their first movie With Six You Get Eggroll.[4] Initially, CCF was generally termed by the film community as a maker only of "fluffy films" that seemed designed for rebroadcast on CBS.[4]

Their second signing was with Bob Banner Associates, who were to make a series of projects that did not come to fruition.[6] National General Pictures agreed to distribute their films in August 1967, agreeing to provide $60 million for 22 movies.[7]

They signed a four-picture deal in 1967 with Jalem, Jack Lemmon's company worth $21 million Jalem was to produce four films, two in which Lemmon was to appear.[8] Other people who signed deals with the company include producer William Graf,[9] and actor Steve McQueen via his company Solar Productions.[10] Robert Culp's company also signed.[11]

Ogilvy Mather was hired in July 1969 to provide advertising for the division.[12] To counter-act the film community's perception of being a "fluffy films" producer Stulberg recommended making The Boys in the Band to Paley. Little Big Man was CCF's biggest hit at the box office despite a cost overrun.[4] CCF also financed a Broadway production, Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, a Don Petersen drama that opened in February 1970.[13] Paley moved responsibility at CBS for CCF from Schneider to Goddard Lieberson, president of Columbia Records, which was then owned by CBS.[4]

Twenty-six films were produced under Stulberg until he left to work at 20th Century Fox in 1971.[1] CBS closed the unit in 1972;[2] its last film was the Peanuts animated musical Snoopy, Come Home. The studio never reported a profit in any year of its operation losing money on the 20 out of 27 films for a total loss of $30 million.[4]


Distribution of Cinema Center's films were transferred from General Cinema Pictures to Warner Bros. in a November 1973 deal that also included those of First Artists Productions.[om 2]

CBS sold 28 CCF films to Viacom in 1979 for $30 million.[14] Another look at Cinema Center Films found that it was profitable. Since its closure, its films had been generating income via network and pay TV ancillary markets,[15] thus CBS attempted another return to the theatrical film production business in 1982, with a unit known as CBS Theatrical Films, as well as with Tri-Star Pictures, the joint venture between CBS, HBO and Columbia Pictures. CBS closed down CBS Theatrical Films and dropped out of Tri-Star in 1985.[16]

CBS would later fall under common ownership with Paramount Pictures after being bought by Viacom (Paramount's parent since 1994 and originally the syndication arm of CBS) in 1999. CBS and Viacom split again in 2005, with CBS becoming a unit of CBS Corporation, but both are still majority-owned by National Amusements. CBS eventually launched a new film unit independent of Viacom and Paramount in 2007, called CBS Films (which Lionsgate took over CBS Films' theatrical distribution functions in 2015).[17] In 2019, CBS Films was folded into the main CBS Entertainment Group after releasing Jexi, at the same time CBS also announced that it will re-merge with Viacom to form ViacomCBS, reuniting CBS with Paramount.


Unmade projects

The following projects were announced but not made:

  • The Apollo of Bellac (1967), based on the play by Jean Giradou
  • Contrast (circa 1967), based on two short stories by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Nelly Bly (circa 1967), a biopic of the famous reporter
  • musical adaptation of Treasure Island by Elliot Kastner and Jerry Gershwin[11]
  • Yucatan (1971), a motorcycle adventure starring Steve McQueen[20]
  • Man on a Nylon String (1971), an adventure tale to be made by Solar Productions but not starring Steve McQueen set in the Alps[20]
  • Applegate's Gold (circa 1971), a Western for Solar Productions[20]


  1. Oliver, Myrna (October 18, 2000). "Gordon T. Stulberg; Studio Executive, Lawyer, Negotiator". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  2. Gould, Jack (January 10, 1972). "C.B.S. is Dropping Its Theater Films; Paley Takes Action as Part of a Production Review". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. p. 47. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  3. "Norman Levy, 67; Fox Chairman Turned Offbeat Films Into Hits". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. September 28, 2002. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  4. Bedell Smith, Sally (February 29, 2012). "5: The King". In All His Glory: The Life and Times of William S. Paley and the Birth of Modern Broadcasting. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307786715.
  5. Martin, Betty (May 9, 1967). Film Pact for Doris Day. Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, Calif) (1923-Current File) Page D17.
  6. Martin, Betty. Multi-Film Agreement Signed. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 June 1967: d9.
  7. National General, CBS Sign Deal for Film Distribution. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Aug 1967: c8.
  8. CBS, Jalem Sign $21 Million Pact Los Angeles Times (1923Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Oct 1967: d24.
  9. Cinema Center, Graf Announce Film Plans. Los Angeles Times. (1923Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 Dec 1968: 31.
  10. Film Star of Year Turns to Creative Extension: McQueen's Creative Film Kick. Los Angeles Times (1923Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Sep 1969: u1.
  11. Cinema by, but Not Necessarily for, Television. Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 July 1968: c14.
  12. "Ogilvy & Mather Gets Film Task". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. July 21, 1969. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  13. Zolotow, Sam (September 7, 1968). "C. B. S. Subsidiary to Help Stage Petersen's Drama on Broadway". New York Times. p. 23. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  14. Slide, Anthony (June 11, 1998). "V". The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry. Scarecrow Press. p. 221. ISBN 9780810866362. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  15. Curran, Trisha (June 28, 1981). "CBS Wants to Star In the Movies--As One of the Major Film Producers". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  16. Brennan, Jude (July 23, 2014). "CBS Films' Presidency: And Then There Was One". Forbes. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  17. Eller, Claudia (September 26, 2007). "CBS names head of movie division". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  18. "SEARCH RESULTS FOR Cinema Center Films". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. AFI. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  19. Cutting Loose': A Film That Never Made It Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 04 Dec 1977: x46.
  20. Warga, Wayne. Film Star of Year Turns to Creative Extension: McQueen's Creative Film Kick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Sep 1969: u1.
  1. Orders of Magnitude I: Majors, Mini-majors, "Instant Majors," and Independents. Page 331-332.
  2. Orders of Magnitude I: Majors, Mini-majors, "Instant Majors," and Independents. Page 308.
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