PolyGram Filmed Entertainment logo, used from 1997 until 1999
|Fate||Acquired by Seagram and folded into Universal Pictures|
Universal Pictures (1998–1999)
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).
In 1980, PolyGram created PolyGram Pictures in a partnership with Peter Guber. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, PolyGram continued to invest in a diversified film unit with the purchases of individual production companies. In 1995, PolyGram purchased ITC Entertainment for $156 million. In May 1998, PolyGram was sold to Seagram, which owned Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group, for $10 billion. Seagram sold off some of PolyGram's assets while mainly acquiring its music division. The ITC Entertainment library was sold to Carlton Communications for £91 million, the pre-April 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library was sold to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, PolyGram's US distributor was sold to USA Networks. After many of its assets were sold, the remains of PolyGram's film division was folded into Universal Pictures. When the newly formed entertainment division of Seagram faced financial difficulties, it was sold to Vivendi, and MCA became known as Universal Studios, as Seagram ceased to exist. Vivendi remains owner of the Universal Music Group, MGM owns the rights to the pre-1996 library, and the post-1996 film and television library is owned by NBCUniversal. In 2017, Universal Music Group established a film and television division, resurrecting the PolyGram Entertainment name.
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.
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.
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. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, PolyGram continued to invest in a diversified film unit with the purchases of individual production companies. In 1989, PolyGram launched Manifesto Film Sales to handle the licensing of films outside North America. In 1991, PolyGram's Michael Kuhn became the head of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, 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. Through this purchase, PolyGram acquired 350 feature films, several thousand hours of television programming, and gained further access into the television market. 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. PolyGram also attempted purchasing MGM and The Samuel Goldwyn Company's library, 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. In October 1998, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer paid $235-250 million to acquire 1,300 films released before March 31, 1996 from PolyGram. In 1999, the ITC library was sold to Carlton Communications (later known as ITV Studios) for $150 million. Some of PFE's North American distribution assets were sold to USA Networks. Universal would later take over the remaining titles which included a third of the pre-1996 films as well as PolyGram Television's library.
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.
- Working Title Films (UK), acquired by PFE in 1991.
- Propaganda Films (US), acquired by PFE in 1991.
- Interscope Communications (US), acquired by PFE in 1994.
- Gramercy Pictures (US), launched by PFE and Universal in 1992.
- ITC Entertainment (UK), acquired by PFE in 1995.
- Rogue Pictures (US), acquired by PFE in 1997.
- Abbey Home Entertainment (UK), 75% majority stake acquired by PFE in 1995. Sold back to original owners in 1998.
- A&M Films (theatrical film division of A&M Records)
- Island Pictures (theatrical film division of Island Records), acquired December 1994, closed 1997.
- Cinéa (France)
- PolyGram Video
- PolyGram Television
- PolyGram Visual Programming
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. After PolyGram's merger with Universal in 1999, the company merged Gramercy with October Films to create USA Films, which eventually became Focus Features. Gramercy was revived in 2015 as a label of Focus Features, but shut down and went dormant the next year.
Among the films directly produced by PFE were:
|February 29, 1980||Foxes||co-production with United Artists|
|May 30, 1980||The Hollywood Knights||co-production with Columbia Pictures|
|May 1, 1981||King of the Mountain||released by Universal Pictures|
|July 17, 1981||Endless Love||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|August 14, 1981||Deadly Blessing||released by United Artists|
|August 21, 1981||An American Werewolf in London||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|November 13, 1981||The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|March 12, 1982||Missing||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|October 3, 1982||Split Image||released by Orion Pictures|
|December 24, 1982||Six Weeks||released by Universal Pictures|
|April 15, 1983||Flashdance||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|December 13, 1985||A Chorus Line||co-production with Columbia Pictures and Embassy Pictures|
|December 13, 1985||Clue||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|April 22, 1988||The Blue Iguana||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|March 24, 1989||Troop Beverly Hills||co-production with Weintraub Entertainment Group|
|December 8, 1989||Fear, Anxiety & Depression||released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|July 27, 1990||Chicago Joe and the Showgirl||co-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films|
|August 17, 1990||Wild at Heart||co-production with The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|September 14, 1990||Fools of Fortune||co-production with New Line Cinema|
|May 24, 1991||Drop Dead Fred||co-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films|
|November 1991||Driving Me Crazy||co-production with Motion Picture Corporation of America|
|January 17, 1992||A Gnome Named Gnorm||co-production with Vestron Pictures|
|March 27, 1992||Ruby||co-production with Triumph Films|
|August 7, 1992||London Kills Me||distributed by Fine Line Features|
|September 4, 1992||Bob Roberts||distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with Miramax Films, LIVE Entertainment and Working Title Films|
|October 16, 1992||Candyman||co-production with TriStar Pictures|
|April 23, 1993||Map of the Human Heart||distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Working Title Films|
|May 14, 1993||Posse||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|August 20, 1993||The Ballad of Little Jo||distributed Fine Line Features|
|September 3, 1993||Kalifornia||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|October 8, 1993||The Young Americans||distributed by LIVE Entertainment; co-production with Working Title Films|
|November 5, 1993||A Home of Our Own||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|January 7, 1994||The Air Up There||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|February 4, 1994||Romeo Is Bleeding||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|March 9, 1994||Four Weddings and a Funeral||co-production with Working Title Films and Channel Four Films|
|March 11, 1994||The Hudsucker Proxy||distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with Working Title Films and Silver Pictures|
|April 8, 1994||Holy Matrimony||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|April 15, 1994||Backbeat||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|May 6, 1994||Dream Lover||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|August 10, 1994||The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|September 23, 1994||Terminal Velocity||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|September 28, 1994||Jason's Lyric||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|January 20, 1995||S.F.W.||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|February 10, 1995||Shallow Grave||distributed by Gramercy Pictures, Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International handled distribution international rights|
|February 24, 1995||Before the Rain||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|March 17, 1995||Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|April 21, 1995||The Basketball Diaries||distributed by New Line Cinema; co-production with Island Pictures|
|May 3, 1995||Panther||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|May 5, 1995||French Kiss||distributed by 20th Century Fox; co-production with Working Title Films|
|July 28, 1995||Operation Dumbo Drop||distributed by Walt Disney Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|August 16, 1995||The Usual Suspects||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|September 22, 1995||Canadian Bacon||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|September 29, 1995||Moonlight and Valentino||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|November 3, 1995||Home for the Holidays||distributed by Paramount Pictures|
|November 10, 1995||Carrington||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|December 29, 1995||Dead Man Walking||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|December 29, 1995||Mr. Holland's Opus||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|February 23, 1996||La Haine||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|March 8, 1996||Fargo||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|March 22, 1996||Jack and Sarah||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Granada Productions and Le Studio Canal+|
|Land and Freedom||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|May 3, 1996||Barb Wire||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
All films released since this point are owned by Universal Pictures
|May 31, 1996||Eddie||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Island Pictures|
|July 17, 1996||Walking and Talking||distributed 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, 1996||Kazaam||co-production with Touchstone Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|July 19, 1996||Trainspotting||distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films|
|September 20, 1996||Loch Ness||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|October 18, 1996||Sleepers||co-production with Propaganda Films|
distributed by Warner Bros. in North America
|October 18, 1996||Jude||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|December 24, 1996||The Portrait of a Lady||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|January 10, 1997||The Relic||distributed by Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures distributed the film internationally|
|January 29, 1997||Gridlock'd||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|February 14, 1997||When We Were Kings||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|March 7, 1997||The Eighth Day||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|April 11, 1997||Keys to Tulsa||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with ITC Entertainment|
|May 9, 1997||Twin Town||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|August 6, 1997||Def Jam's How to Be a Player||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|August 24, 1997||Snow White: A Tale of Terror||co-production with Interscope Communications|
|September 12, 1997||The Game||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|September 19, 1997||Going All the Way||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|October 3, 1997||The Matchmaker||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|October 24, 1997||A Life Less Ordinary||distributed by 20th Century Fox|
|November 7, 1997||Bean||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|December 5, 1997||The Borrowers||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Working Title Films|
|January 16, 1998||Hard Rain||distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with BBC Films, Mutual Film Company, Nordisk Film and Toho|
|January 23, 1998||Spice World||distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment; co-production with Icon Productions and Columbia Pictures|
|The Gingerbread Man||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Island Pictures and Enchanter Entertainment|
|February 18, 1998||I Want You||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|February 26, 1998||Dead Letter Office||distributed by Southern Star Entertainment|
|March 6, 1998||The Big Lebowski||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|March 27, 1998||No Looking Back||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|The Proposition||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|Barney's Great Adventure: The Movie||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Lyrick Studios|
|May 1, 1998||Wilde||distributed by Sony Pictures Classics; co-production with BBC Films, Capitol Films and Pony Canyon|
|Go Now||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|May 29, 1998||The Last Days of Disco||distributed by Gramercy Pictures in North America and Warner Bros. Pictures internationally; co-production with Castle Rock Entertainment|
|June 12, 1998||The Land Girls||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|August 14, 1998||Return to Paradise||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Propaganda Films and Tetragram|
|August 21, 1998||Your Friends & Neighbors||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|September 25, 1998||Clay Pigeons||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|October 2, 1998||What Dreams May Come||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|November 13, 1998||Thursday||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|November 22, 1998||Elizabeth||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with StudioCanal, Working Title Films and Channel Four Films|
|November 25, 1998||Very Bad Things||distributed by PolyGram Films; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|January 22, 1999||The Hi-Lo Country||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|February 1999||Choke||distributed by PolyGram Visual Programming; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|March 5, 1999||Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels||distributed 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, 1999||Millionaire Dogs||distributed 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, 1999||Notting Hill||distributed by Universal Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|July 9, 1999||Arlington Road||distributed by Screen Gems; co-production with Lakeshore Entertainment|
|August 20, 1999||Mickey Blue Eyes||distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in North America and Universal Pictures internationally; co-production with Castle Rock Entertainment and Simian Films|
|October 1, 1999||Plunkett & Macleane||distributed by USA Films; co-production with Working Title Films|
|October 29, 1999||Being John Malkovich||distributed by USA Films; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|December 12, 1999||The Green Mile||distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures in North America and Universal Pictures internationally; co-production with Castle Rock Entertainment and Darkwoods Productions|
|February 18, 2000||Pitch Black||distributed by USA Films; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|March 24, 2000||Waking the Dead||distributed by USA Films|
|April 14, 2000||Where the Money Is||distributed by USA Films|
|July 28, 2000||Wonderland||distributed by USA Films|
- "Universal Music Relaunching Polygram, Announces 'Story of Motown' as First Production". billboard.com. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
- Griffin, Nancy and Masters, Kim (1996). "Hit and Run" (pp. 100-116). New York: Touchstone, a Simon & Schuster company.
- Kuhn, pp. 17-23
- 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.
- Kuhn, pp. 40-41
- "ITC Entertainment Sold to Polygram for $156 Million". Los Angeles Times. 1995-01-17. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- Weiner, Rex; Weiner, Rex (3 December 1997). "New Epic librarian".
- Fabrikant, Geraldine (1996-07-17). "Kerkorian Group Plans to Buy MGM Studio for $1.3 Billion". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- "Company News;Polygram Said To Drop Goldwyn Offer". New York Times. 1996-01-31. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- Eller, Claudia (October 9, 1998). "Seagram May Settle for Sale of Film Library". Los Angeles Times.
- "MGM Signs $250 Million Agreement to Acquire PolyGram Film Library". Sound & Vision. 25 October 1998.
- Eller, Claudia (1998-10-23). "MGM Agrees to Acquire PolyGram Movie Library". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- Thal, Peter (1999-01-20). "Carlton pays $150m for film library". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- "USA Will Buy Some Seagram Film Assets". Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1999.
- Madigan, Nick; Madigan, Nick (9 December 1997). "Polygram shutters Island Pictures".
- Eller, Claudia (1997-05-03). "PolyGram Unit to Distribute Films in U.S. - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- "Warner Bros. Teams Up with PolyGram to Co-Finance & Co-Distribute Castle Rock Pictures". WarnerMedia. Retrieved 6 April 2020.