|Founded||February 15, 1984|
|Founder||Ron W. Miller|
|Headquarters||Walt Disney Studios, |
|Parent||Walt Disney Studios|
Touchstone Pictures is an American film distribution label of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, created and owned by The Walt Disney Company. Feature films released under the Touchstone label are produced and financed by The Walt Disney Studios, and feature more mature themes targeted towards adult audiences, than those films released under the studio's flagship Walt Disney Pictures banner. As such, Touchstone is merely a pseudonym brand for the studio, and does not exist as a distinct business operation.
Established on February 15, 1984 by then-Disney CEO Ron W. Miller as Touchstone Films, Touchstone operated as an active film production division of Walt Disney Studios during the 1980s through the early 2010s, releasing a majority of the studio's PG-13 and R-rated films. In 2009, Disney entered into a five-year, thirty picture distribution deal with DreamWorks Pictures by which DreamWorks' productions would be released through the Touchstone banner. Touchstone then distributed DreamWorks' films from 2011 to 2016.
Due to increased public assumption that Disney films were aimed at children and families, films produced by the Walt Disney Productions began to falter at the box office as a result. In late 1979, Disney Productions released The Black Hole, a science-fiction movie that was the studio's first production to receive a PG rating (the company, however, had already distributed via Buena Vista Distribution its first PG-rated film, Take Down almost a year before the release of The Black Hole).
Over the next few years, Disney experimented with more PG-rated fare, such as the 1981 films—the horror-mystery The Watcher in the Woods, the spy-themed comedy Condorman and the Paramount Pictures co-produced fantasy epic Dragonslayer. With Disney's 1982 slate of PG-rated films—including the thriller drama Night Crossing, and the science-fiction film Tron—the company lost over $27 million. Tron was considered a potential Star Wars-level success film by the film division.
In late 1982, Disney vice president of production Tom Wilhite announced that they would produce and release more mature films under a new brand. Wilhite elaborated to the New York Times: ''We won't get into horror or exploitive sex, but using a non-Disney name will allow us wider latitude in the maturity of the subject matter and the edge we can add to the humor.'' One of the first films expected to be released under this new brand included Trenchcoat, a comedy caper starring Margot Kidder and Robert Hays; by the time the film opened in March 1983, no production company credit was included in the released prints.
A loss of $33 million was registered by the film division in 1983 with the majority resulting from films such as the horror-fantasy adaptation of Ray Bradbury's novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, a horror-comedy starring Elliott Gould and Bill Cosby The Devil and Max Devlin, two dramas Tex and Never Cry Wolf, a latter PG release that featured male nudity, did well as the studio downplayed the film's association with the Disney brand.
Touchstone Films was started by then-Disney CEO Ron W. Miller on February 15, 1984 as a label for their PG films with an expected three to four movies released under the label. Touchstone's first film was Splash, a huge hit for grossing $68 million at the domestic box office was released that year. Incoming Disney CEO Michael Eisner and film chief Jeffrey Katzenberg considered renaming the label to Hollywood Pictures.
In 1986, Down and Out in Beverly Hills was another early success for Touchstone and was Disney's first R-rated film, followed in 1987 by Disney's first PG-13 rated film, Adventures in Babysitting. Disney increased the momentum with additional PG-13 and R-rated films with Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), Tin Men (1987), and other top movies. In April 1985, Touchstone Films were licensed to Showtime/The Movie Channel for five years starting in 1986.
Touchstone Films was renamed Touchstone Pictures after the film Ruthless People in 1986. With the Touchstone movies, Disney moved to the top of box office receipts beating out all the other major film studios by 1988. In April 1988, Touchstone became a unit of Walt Disney Pictures with newly appointed president Ricardo Mestres.
With several production companies getting out of film production or closing shop by December 1988, the Walt Disney Studios announced the formation of the Hollywood Pictures division, which would only share marketing and distribution with Touchstone, to fill the void. Mestres was appointed president of Hollywood. In July 1992, Touchstone agreed to an exclusive, first-look production and distribution agreement with Merchant Ivory Productions to last three years.
Following the success of the Disney-branded PG-13-rated Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003, and other films that in the 1980s and 1990s would have been released as Touchstone or Hollywood Pictures films, Disney weighed distribution of films more toward Disney-branded films and away from Touchstone Pictures, though not entirely disbanding them as it continued to use the Touchstone label for R and most PG-13 rated fare. In 2006, Disney limited Touchstone's output to two or three films in favor of Walt Disney Pictures titles due to an increase in film industry costs. Disney indicated scaling back on using multiple brands in 2007 with the renaming of Touchstone Television to ABC Television Studio in February and the outright elimination of the Buena Vista brand in April. Two Touchstone co-productions flopped at the box office minimized by its co-producers financial contributions to the movies.
Disney revived Touchstone in 2009 to serve as a distribution label for DreamWorks Studios' films. Disney financed DreamWorks productions with $90 million more available under its agreement if DreamWorks cannot get additional equity funding. In 2012, Disney reportedly was in early stages in considering Touchstone's fate, including a possible sale.
Following Disney's decision not to renew their long-standing deal with Jerry Bruckheimer Films in 2013, producer Jerry Bruckheimer revealed that he insisted on revitalizing the Touchstone label for production. Disney was uninterested, with studio chairman Alan Horn admitting that Touchstone's output had been reduced to distributing DreamWorks' films as those films are in the label's wheelhouse. In addition to DreamWorks' films, Touchstone also released non Disney-branded animated films such as Gnomeo & Juliet, The Wind Rises and Strange Magic.
By the end of the DreamWorks deal, Disney had distributed fourteen of DreamWorks' original 30-picture agreement, with thirteen through Touchstone. The deal ended in August 2016, with The Light Between Oceans being the last film released under the agreement. Universal Pictures then replaced Disney as DreamWorks' distributor. Disney retained the film rights to these DreamWorks films in perpetuity as compensation for the studio's outstanding loan.
Some well-known Touchstone Pictures releases include Beaches, Turner & Hooch, Splash, The Color of Money, Good Morning, Vietnam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Dead Poets Society, Pretty Woman, Sister Act, Ed Wood, The Insider, The Royal Tenenbaums, Sweet Home Alabama, The Help, War Horse, Lincoln, and Bridge of Spies. Its highest-grossing film release is Armageddon. Although animated films are primarily released by Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone's animated releases include the original theatrical release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Wind Rises, and Strange Magic. Six Touchstone films have received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture; Dead Poets Society, The Insider, The Help, War Horse, Lincoln, and Bridge of Spies.
Through Touchstone, Disney's first R-rated film, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, came in January 31, 1986 and was a large box-office success. Ruthless People followed in June 27, 1986 and was also very successful. Both of these pictures starred Bette Midler, who had signed a six-picture deal with Disney and became a major film star again with these hits as well as Beaches and Outrageous Fortune.
One of the key producers behind Touchstone films was Jerry Bruckheimer, who had a production deal with Disney from 1993 to 2014. His Touchstone titles include The Ref, Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Gone in 60 Seconds, Coyote Ugly, and Pearl Harbor. In addition, Bruckheimer has also produced several other films released under the Disney and Hollywood labels.
Releases from Touchstone Pictures are distributed theatrically by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and through home media platforms by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (branded as "Touchstone Home Entertainment"). Touchstone is also a distribution label for Disney.
Highest-grossing Touchstone films
Disney's former non-Disney branded television division Touchstone Television Productions, LLC (formerly known as Touchstone Films Television Division, Touchstone Films Television, Touchstone Pictures Television and Touchstone Pictures and Television [itself an alternate version of the Walt Disney Television names] and later Touchstone Television) is known for being the production company of the series The Golden Girls, Blossom, Home Improvement, The Sinbad Show, Boy Meets World (all five began before Disney's ABC acquisition), My Wife and Kids, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, Miracles, and Monk.
On February 8, 2007, at the Disney Investor Conference, then-Disney–ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney, announced that they would rebrand Touchstone Television to ABC Television Studio in order to tie its successful productions more closely with the ABC brand. The announcement was made as part of a company-wide strategy to focus on three core brands, Disney, ABC, and ESPN. In May 2007, the television production company yet again changed its name, this time to ABC Studios.
By the end of 2007, Disney's video game subsidiary Buena Vista Games began to produce material under its own Touchstone imprint. As is the case with its motion picture and television counterparts, Touchstone Games merely acted as a label/imprint of Disney Interactive and not its own entity. The first such release was the Turok video game in 2008.
- Letter signed by Thomas O. Staggs (Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, The Walt Disney Company) to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, March 1, 2007. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
- McClintock, Pamela (September 24, 2015). "Will Steven Spielberg Drop the DreamWorks Name?". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
- Deitchman, Beth (March 7, 2014). "It's Been 30 Years Since Touchstone Pictures' Splash-y Debut". Disney D23. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
- Harmetz, Aljean (February 16, 1984). "Touchstone Label to Replace Disney Name on Some Films". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- "The Walt Disney Company: 2011 Annual Financial Report" (PDF). The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved December 30, 2012. Page 12
- Graser, Marc; Siegel, Tatiana (February 9, 2009). "Disney signs deal with DreamWorks". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
- "Disney plans show for 'older' viewers". July 28, 1980. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
- Harmetz, Aljean (September 30, 1982). "Reporter's Notebook; Disney Banking on 'Tex' to Rewin Teen-Agers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- "The Walt Disney Company History". Company Profiles. fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
- 1984 Yearly Chart for Domestic Grosses at boxofficemojo.com, Retrieved on May 25, 2007.
- Harmetz, Aljean (December 2, 1988). "COMPANY NEWS; Disney Expansion Set; Film Output to Double". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- "Two Studios Announce Exclusive Cable Deals". The New York Times. April 25, 1986. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- "People: Los Angeles County". Los Angeles Times. April 13, 1988. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
- "Disney, Japan Investors Join in Partnership : Movies: Group will become main source of finance for all live-action films at the company's three studios". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 23, 1990. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- Fox, David J. (July 27, 1992). "An Unlikely Trio: Merchant, Ivory and Disney : Movies: The 'Howards End' team agrees to a three-year deal that will give their artful fare wider distribution. The studio will also release 'Sarafina!'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- Barnes, Brooks; Cieply, Michael (February 10, 2009). "Disney and DreamWorks form partnership". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- Fixmer, Andy (April 25, 2007). "Disney to Drop Buena Vista Brand Name, People Say (Update1)". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on September 18, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
- Barnes, Brooks; Cieply, Michael (February 9, 2009). "DreamWorks and Disney Agree to Distribution Deal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
- Atkinson, Claire (January 7, 2012). "Disney mulls future of sluggish Touchstone". New York Post. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- Masters, Kim (September 19, 2013). "Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer to Split in 2014". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Butler, Karen (November 11, 2014). "Lucasfilm's animated 'Strange Magic' set for Jan. 23 release". UPI. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
- McClintock, Pamela; Kilday, Gregg (December 16, 2015). "Steven Spielberg, Jeff Skoll Team to Form Amblin Partners, Strike Distribution Deal With Universal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
- "DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One Form Amblin Partners, a New Film, Television and Digital Content Creation Company" (Press release). Business Wire. Universal City, California. December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
Film projects in various stages of production include: “The BFG,” and “The Light Between Oceans,” scheduled for release by Disney in 2016.
- Masters, Kim (September 2, 2015). "Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks to Split From Disney, in Talks With Universal (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- McNary, Dave (September 2, 2015). "Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks to Leave Disney, Possibly for Universal". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- Rainey, James (December 30, 2015). "Steven Spielberg Puts His Own Big Bucks Into the New Amblin Partners (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
- Tribou, Richard (January 16, 2014). "Not-so-golden year for Disney's chances at the Oscars". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
- Miller, Daniel (September 19, 2013). "Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer to end longtime partnership". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Lev, Michael (January 18, 1991, Friday), 2 Top Movie Producers Sign Disney Accord, The New York Times Financial Desk. Late Edition – Final, Section D, Page 3, Column 1, 286 words
- "The Walt Disney Studios' Distribution Arm Buena Vista Pictures Commits Content to Christie". Christie. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
- "Box Office by Studio – Disney All Time". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
- The Walt Disney Company News Release, "Disney-ABC Television Group Renames Television Studio". Retrieved on May 25, 2007
- Maltin, Leonard (2000). The Disney Films (4th ed.). New York: Disney Editions. ISBN 0786885270. OCLC 43903571.
- Smith, Dave (1998). Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia (Updated ed.). New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786863919. OCLC 39736062.