Crown International Pictures

Crown International Pictures (CIP) was an independent film studio and distribution company formed in 1959 by Newton P. Jacobs.[1]

Crown International Pictures
FateChapter 11 Bankruptcy
FounderNewton P. Jacobs
HeadquartersBeverly Hills, California, US

Jacobs was a branch head of RKO Pictures until 1947, when he formed Favorite Films, an organization which released films acquired from the studios which had originally produced them, long after their first run release. CIP became one of the first franchise distributors for American International Pictures (AIP) product.[2] Like AIP, Crown International is primarily known for low-budget genre films, including; grindhouse cinema, biker films, exploitation films, and B-movie drive-in fare.

In 1973, Mark Tenser, who had been vice-president, became president with Jacobs' ascension to become chairman of the board. Jacobs' daughter Marilyn Jacobs Tenser became vice president.

In July 1988, Jacobs died in a motorcycle accident, which resulted in his son, Louis, taking the helm of Crown International.[3]


Crown International began releasing both such low-budget films as Bloodlust! and The Seventh Commandment, by American producers, as well as foreign films such as First Spaceship on Venus and Varan the Unbelievable (released as a double feature in 1962) which Crown was able to acquire inexpensively, due to the US dollar's strength. Crown began producing its own films, starting with Coleman Francis' The Skydivers, in 1963.

Beginning in 1961, Crown began by releasing six films, with the number rising to 12 a decade years later. Jacobs felt that Crown survived by having carefully planned growth and not overextending its product.[4] He said that Crown did not want to be regarded as a mini major studio but as the top of the independents, to give the company more freedom in selecting and exploiting its film library.[5] Well over 50% of exhibitors showing Crown's products were drive-in theatres, with the number decreasing to 30% in 1981.[6]

Notable Crown International movies include:

Crown also acted as importer for Sonny Chiba's Street Fighter films to the United States.

The director of Death Machines (1976) gave an account of how Crown picked up and shot new scenes for his film[7] that included shooting a prologue that would make the martial arts film a science-fiction one to make it more in line with current box-office trends.

Crown often re-titled its releases to make them sound more exciting or exploit current trends. Jacobs told the Los Angeles Times in November 1963, "A title is the handle  . . . You can't lift a picture very high if the handle is weak"[8]

Television and DVD

In 1964 Crown packaged several of the features that it released or had acquired rights to become part of a package of the Westhampton Film Corp. Renowned American television production company Desilu entered film syndication in 1964 by acquiring the rights to show Crown International films as part of the "Westhampton Feature Package".[9] In the 1970s Crown released films for syndication through Gold Key Entertainment, which was a division of Vidtronics, Inc.

A great many of Crown's releases have been released to DVD on BCI Home Entertainment's Welcome to the Grindhouse, Starlite Drive-In Theater and Drive-In Cult Classics series. Several Crown films have been shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Since Navarre Corporation's closing of its subsidiary BCI Home Entertainment, DVD distribution of Crown's library has transferred to Mill Creek Entertainment. Most of Crown's library is today owned by Lionsgate.


  1. p.86 Slide, Anthony The American Film Industry: A Historical Dictionary 1986 Greenwood Press
  2. 1980 Obituaries Variety
  3. History of Crown International Pictures by Crown International Pictures.
  4. p.13 A Salute to Red Jacobs Box Office Magazine 8 Feb 1971
  5. p.14 Ibid
  6. p.183 Segrave, Kerry Drive-In Theatres: A History from their Inception in 1933 1992 McFarland
  7. "Death Machines: Ronald L. Marchini, Michael Chong, Joshua Johnson, Mari Honjo, Ron Ackerman, Edward Blair, Bob Cori, Philip DeAngelo, Mary Carole Frederickson, Chuck Katzakian, Colleen Kinsley, John Lowe, Donald Rust, Paul Kyriazi, Mark Krigbaum, Joe Walders: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  8. Albright, Brian Who Saved Hitler's Brain? The Making and Re-Making of "Madmen of Mandoras" Filmfax Plus Magazine #118
  9. p.169 Heffernan, Kevin Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business 2004 Duke University Press
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