PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (formerly known as PolyGram Films and PolyGram Pictures or simply PFE) was a British-American film studio founded in 1980 which became a European competitor to Hollywood, but was eventually sold to Seagram Company Ltd. in 1998 and was folded in 1999. Among its most successful and well known films were An American Werewolf in London (1981), Flashdance (1983), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Usual Suspects (1995), and Notting Hill (1999).

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Subsidiary
Industrycinematography 
FateAcquired by Universal Pictures and merged with Gramercy Pictures, and October Films in 1999 to form USA Films
Name revived by Universal Music Group in 2017 and renamed PolyGram Entertainment
SuccessorUSA Films
Founded1980 (1980)
Defunct1999 (1999)
Headquarters,
OwnerPhilips (1980–1998)
Seagram (1998–1999)
ParentPolyGram (1980–1998)
Universal Pictures (1998–1999)
DivisionsPolyGram Television
PolyGram Video

In 2017, Universal Music Group established a film and television division, resurrecting the PolyGram Entertainment name.[1]

History

PolyGram Pictures

The music company PolyGram (owned by Dutch-based Philips and Germany's Siemens) created PolyGram Pictures in 1980 as a partnership with film producer Peter Guber. It was a spin-off of sorts to Casablanca FilmWorks, the film unit of PolyGram's Casablanca Records which Guber previously ran and had success with The Deep and Midnight Express. PolyGram reserved the finances and Guber would run as CEO. Guber would form a partnership with Barbra Streisand's hairdresser Jon Peters, who co-produced his client's A Star Is Born remake. Peters would produce PolyGram's films, and eventually become a stockholder with Guber.[2]

Its first film was King of the Mountain (1981), which was a box-office flop. More money-losers followed. Ancillary markets such as home video and pay television were not yet established, and broadcast television networks were paying less for licenses to films. PolyGram's European investors were not happy; they had lost about $80 million on its film division. Not long after, Siemens parted with Philips. Guber and Peters left PolyGram Pictures in 1982, taking their plans for a new Batman movie with them, along with a few other projects. The duo eventually found a home at Warner Bros. A part of their exit proceedings, PolyGram would still own 7.5% of profits from some of its projects, including the 1989 Batman film.[2]

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

In the early 1980s, PolyGram Video was launched. PolyGram Video, headed by Michael Kuhn and David Hockman, was created to distribute concert films and feature films acquired from third-parties, as well as long-form music videos. Kuhn and Hockman were able to parlay PolyGram Video's success into financing feature films. The first film produced by PolyGram's new film division was P.I. Private Investigations in 1987.[3] During the late 1980s and early 1990s, PolyGram continued to invest in a diversified film unit with the purchases of individual production companies.[4] In 1989, PolyGram launched Manifesto Film Sales to handle the licensing of films outside North America.[5] In 1991, PolyGram's Michael Kuhn became the head of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment,[4] with US$200 million pumped in with the intention of developing a European film studio that could produce and distribute films internationally on a scale to match the major Hollywood studios.

Following the style of its music business, the company produced films through a number of creatively semi-autonomous 'labels', such as Working Title Films in the UK and Propaganda Films and Interscope Communications in the United States; It also built up its own network of distribution companies.

Film production within PolyGram differed from traditional Hollywood studios, in that power to make ('green light') a film was not centralised in the hands of a small number of executives, but instead was decided by negotiations between producers, management and marketing. Kuhn claimed that "movies sort of green lit themselves."

PolyGram also built up a sizable film and television library that could be profitable. In 1995, the company purchased ITC Entertainment for $156 million.[6] Through this purchase, PolyGram acquired 350 feature films, several thousand hours of television programming, and gained further access into the television market.[4] in 1995, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment acquired a 75% majority stake in British Home Video distributor Abbey Home Entertainment. In 1997, PFE agreed to purchase the Epic film library, which included a thousand feature films, from Crédit Lyonnais Bank for $225 million.[7] PolyGram also attempted purchasing MGM[8] and The Samuel Goldwyn Company's library,[9] but to no avail. in July 1998, Polygram was in talks to sell their stake in Abbey Home Entertainment back to Ian and Anne Miles letting AHE trade independently again.

PFE was based in the United Kingdom, and invested heavily in British film making — some credit it with reviving the British film industry in the 1990s. Despite a successful production history, Philips decided to sell PolyGram to the beverage (liquor) conglomerate Seagram in 1998.

Only interested in PolyGram's music operations, Seagram, which at the time controlled Universal Pictures, looked forward to divesting in PFE. After being dissatisfied with offers to buy the studio (including a joint venture between Canal+ and Artisan Entertainment), Seagram opted to sell off individual assets and folded whatever remained into Universal.[10] In October 1998, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (through Orion Pictures)[11] paid $235-250 million to acquire 1,300 films released before March 31, 1996 from PolyGram.[12]. In 1999, the ITC library was sold to Carlton Communications (later known as ITV Studios) for $150 million.[13] Some of PFE's North American distribution assets were sold to USA Networks.[14] Universal Pictures now owns the rest of the post-1996 films (beginning with Barb Wire) and PolyGram Television.

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment took over the distribution of Manga Entertainment's titles in Australia and New Zealand in late 1996 after Siren Entertainment's license to the Manga Video catalogue expired, but PolyGram lost the license to the Manga Video catalogue in 1998 after Madman Entertainment took over the licenses. This was due to Manga Entertainment being moved from Island Records to Palm Pictures.

Production companies

Distribution company

In 1992, PolyGram partnered with Universal Pictures to create a joint venture called Gramercy Pictures. Gramercy primarily distributed PolyGram films in the USA, and it doubled as a specialty label for Universal. In 1997, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Distribution was founded to release PFE's mainstream titles in the USA, while Gramercy became a low-budget/art-house sublabel.[16] After PolyGram's merger with Universal in 1999, the company merged Gramercy with October Films to create USA Films, which eventually became Focus Features.

Selected films

Among the films directly produced by PFE were:

1980s

Release Date Title Notes
February 29, 1980Foxesco-production with United Artists
May 30, 1980The Hollywood Knightsco-production with Columbia Pictures
May 1, 1981King of the Mountainreleased by Universal Pictures
July 17, 1981Endless Loveco-production with Universal Pictures
August 14, 1981Deadly Blessingreleased by United Artists
August 21, 1981An American Werewolf in Londonco-production with Universal Pictures
November 13, 1981The Pursuit of D. B. Cooperco-production with Universal Pictures
March 12, 1982Missingco-production with Universal Pictures
October 3, 1982Split Imagereleased by Orion Pictures
December 24, 1982Six Weeksreleased by Universal Pictures
April 15, 1983Flashdanceco-production with Paramount Pictures
December 13, 1985A Chorus Lineco-production with Columbia Pictures and Embassy Pictures
December 13, 1985Clueco-production with Paramount Pictures
April 22, 1988The Blue Iguanaco-production with Paramount Pictures
March 24, 1989Troop Beverly Hillsco-production with Weintraub Entertainment Group
December 8, 1989Fear, Anxiety & Depressionreleased by The Samuel Goldwyn Company

1990s

Release Date Title Notes
July 27, 1990Chicago Joe and the Showgirlco-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films
August 17, 1990Wild at Heartco-production with The Samuel Goldwyn Company
September 14, 1990Fools of Fortuneco-production with New Line Cinema
May 24, 1991Drop Dead Fredco-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films
November 1991Driving Me Crazyco-production with Motion Picture Corporation of America
January 17, 1992A Gnome Named Gnormco-production with Vestron Pictures
March 27, 1992Rubyco-production with Triumph Films
August 7, 1992London Kills Medistributed by Fine Line Features
September 4, 1992Bob Robertsdistributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with Miramax Films, LIVE Entertainment and Working Title Films
October 16, 1992Candymanco-production with TriStar Pictures
April 23, 1993Map of the Human Heartdistributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Working Title Films
May 14, 1993Possedistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
August 20, 1993The Ballad of Little Jodistributed Fine Line Features
September 3, 1993Kaliforniadistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
October 8, 1993The Young Americansdistributed by LIVE Entertainment; co-production with Working Title Films
November 5, 1993A Home of Our Owndistributed by Gramercy Pictures
January 7, 1994The Air Up Theredistributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
February 4, 1994Romeo Is Bleedingdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
March 9, 1994Four Weddings and a Funeralco-production with Working Title Films and Channel Four Films
March 11, 1994The Hudsucker Proxydistributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with Working Title Films and Silver Pictures
April 8, 1994Holy Matrimonydistributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
April 15, 1994Backbeatdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
May 6, 1994Dream Loverdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
August 10, 1994The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desertdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
September 23, 1994Terminal Velocitydistributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
September 28, 1994Jason's Lyricdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
January 20, 1995S.F.W.distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
February 10, 1995Shallow Gravedistributed by Gramercy Pictures
February 24, 1995Before the Raindistributed by Gramercy Pictures
March 17, 1995Candyman: Farewell to the Fleshdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
May 3, 1995Pantherdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
May 5, 1995French Kissdistributed by 20th Century Fox; co-production with Working Title Films
July 28, 1995Operation Dumbo Dropdistributed by Walt Disney Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
August 16, 1995The Usual Suspectsdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
September 22, 1995Canadian Bacondistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
September 29, 1995Moonlight and Valentinodistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
November 3, 1995Home for the Holidaysdistributed by Paramount Pictures
November 10, 1995Carringtondistributed by Gramercy Pictures
December 29, 1995Dead Man Walkingdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
December 29, 1995Mr. Holland's Opusdistributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
February 23, 1996La Hainedistributed by Gramercy Pictures
March 8, 1996Fargodistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
March 22, 1996Jack and Sarahdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Granada Productions and Le Studio Canal+
Land and Freedomdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
May 3, 1996Barb Wiredistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films

All films released since this point are owned by Universal Pictures

May 31, 1996Eddiedistributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Island Pictures
July 17, 1996Walking and Talkingdistributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films, Zenith Productions, Pandora Film, Mikado Films (France), Electric, TEAM Communications Group and Good Machine
July 17, 1996Kazaamco-production with Touchstone Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
July 19, 1996Trainspottingdistributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films
September 20, 1996Loch Nessdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
October 18, 1996Sleepersco-production with Propaganda Films
distributed by Warner Bros. in North America
October 18, 1996Judedistributed by Gramercy Pictures
December 24, 1996The Portrait of a Ladydistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films
January 10, 1997The Relicdistributed by Paramount Pictures
January 29, 1997Gridlock'ddistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications
February 14, 1997When We Were Kingsdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
March 7, 1997The Eighth Daydistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
April 11, 1997Keys to Tulsadistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with ITC Entertainment
May 9, 1997Twin Towndistributed by Gramercy Pictures
August 6, 1997Def Jam's How to Be a Playerdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
August 24, 1997Snow White: A Tale of Terrorco-production with Interscope Communications
September 12, 1997The Gameco-production with Propaganda Films
September 19, 1997Going All the Waydistributed by Gramercy Pictures
October 3, 1997The Matchmakerdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
October 24, 1997A Life Less Ordinarydistributed by 20th Century Fox
November 7, 1997Beandistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
December 5, 1997The Borrowersco-production with Working Title Films
January 16, 1998Hard Raindistributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with BBC Films, Mutual Film Company, Nordisk Film and Toho
January 23, 1998Spice Worlddistributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment; co-production with Icon Productions and Columbia Pictures
The Gingerbread Manco-production with Island Pictures and Enchanter Entertainment
February 18, 1998I Want Youdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
February 26, 1998Dead Letter Office
March 6, 1998The Big Lebowskidistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
March 27, 1998No Looking Backdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
The Propositionco-production with Interscope Communications
Barney's Great Adventure: The Movieco-production with Lyrick Studios
May 1, 1998Wildedistributed by Sony Pictures Classics; co-production with BBC Films, Capitol Films and Pony Canyon
Go Nowdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
May 29, 1998The Last Days of Discodistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Castle Rock Entertainment
June 12, 1998The Land Girlsdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
August 14, 1998Return to Paradiseco-production with Propaganda Films and Tetragram
August 21, 1998Your Friends & Neighborsdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
September 25, 1998Clay Pigeonsdistributed by Gramercy Pictures
October 2, 1998What Dreams May Comeco-production with Interscope Communications
November 13, 1998Thursdayco-production with Propaganda Films
November 22, 1998Elizabethdistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with StudioCanal, Working Title Films and Channel Four Films
November 25, 1998Very Bad Thingsco-production with Interscope Communications
January 22, 1999The Hi-Lo Countrydistributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
February 1999Chokeco-production with Propaganda Films
March 5, 1999Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrelsdistributed by Gramercy Pictures in U.S.; co-production with The Steve Tisch Company, SKA Films, HandMade Films and Summit Entertainment. Columbia TriStar Pictures internationally distributed
April 1, 1999Millionaire Dogsdistributed by Pop Twist Entertainment in U.S.; co-production with Ostdeutscher Rundfunk Brandenburg, EIV Entertainment Invest GmbH & Company KG, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen and Benchmark Entertainment
May 28, 1999Notting Hilldistributed by Universal Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films
July 9, 1999Arlington Roaddistributed by Screen Gems; co-production with Lakeshore Entertainment
October 1, 1999Plunkett & Macleanedistributed by USA Films; co-production with Working Title Films
October 29, 1999Being John Malkovichdistributed by USA Films; co-production with Propaganda Films

2000s

Release Date Title Notes
February 18, 2000Pitch Blackdistributed by USA Films; co-production with Interscope Communications
March 24, 2000Waking the Deaddistributed by USA Films
April 14, 2000Where the Money Isdistributed by USA Films
July 28, 2000Wonderlanddistributed by USA Films

See also

References

  1. "Universal Music Relaunching Polygram, Announces 'Story of Motown' as First Production". billboard.com. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  2. Griffin, Nancy and Masters, Kim (1996). "Hit and Run" (pp. 100-116). New York: Touchstone, a Simon & Schuster company.
  3. Kuhn, pp. 17-23
  4. Apodaca, Patrice (1995-02-21). "Screen Play : PolyGram Hopes to Bolster Its Hollywood Presence With Purchase of Once-Venerable ITC Entertainment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  5. Kuhn, pp. 40-41
  6. "ITC Entertainment Sold to Polygram for $156 Million". Los Angeles Times. 1995-01-17. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  7. Weiner, Rex; Weiner, Rex (3 December 1997). "New Epic librarian".
  8. Fabrikant, Geraldine (1996-07-17). "Kerkorian Group Plans to Buy MGM Studio for $1.3 Billion". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  9. "Company News;Polygram Said To Drop Goldwyn Offer". New York Times. 1996-01-31. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  10. Eller, Claudia (October 9, 1998). "Seagram May Settle for Sale of Film Library". Los Angeles Times.
  11. "MGM Signs $250 Million Agreement to Acquire PolyGram Film Library". Sound & Vision. 25 October 1998.
  12. Eller, Claudia (1998-10-23). "MGM Agrees to Acquire PolyGram Movie Library". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  13. Thal, Peter (1999-01-20). "Carlton pays $150m for film library". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  14. "USA Will Buy Some Seagram Film Assets". Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1999.
  15. Madigan, Nick; Madigan, Nick (9 December 1997). "Polygram shutters Island Pictures".
  16. Eller, Claudia (1997-05-03). "PolyGram Unit to Distribute Films in U.S. - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-22.

Further reading

  • Michael Kuhn, One Hundred Films and a Funeral: The Life and Death of Polygram Films, Thorogood, 2002. ISBN 1-85418-216-1.
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