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|Founded||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Headquarters||Universal City, California, United States|
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (formerly Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Video, MCA/Universal Home Video, MCA Home Video, MCA Videodisc Inc. and MCA Videocassette Inc.) is the home video distribution division of American film studio Universal Pictures, owned by the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast.
The company was founded in 1980 as MCA Videocassette, Inc., with the release of films on Beta and VHS, including Jaws, Jaws 2 and 1941. Prior to 1980, Castle Films (known as Universal 8 after 1977) had served as Universal's home film distribution unit. In late 1983, both the Laserdisc sister label MCA Videodisc and the VHS/Beta label MCA Videocassette were consolidated into a single entity, MCA Home Video, alternating with the MCA Videocassette name until December 1983. In 1990, with the 75th anniversary of Universal Studios, it became MCA/Universal Home Video, alternating with the MCA Home Video name from 1990 until 1997. The company later went by various company names, including Universal Studios Home Video (1997–2005) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (2005–2016).
This company was the video distributor for DreamWorks titles until DreamWorks was sold to Paramount Pictures' parent company, Viacom, in 2006, at which point Paramount took over distribution. After Viacom spun off DreamWorks in 2008, Universal Studios Home Entertainment was planned to resume distributing DreamWorks' movies, but this deal fell through. The company was also the video distributor for Summit Entertainment releases until they were bought by Lionsgate. Until they formed their home video division, their releases were distributed by UPHE with the exception of Dogma, which was distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
In addition to DVDs, Universal was a major supporter of the HD DVD format until Toshiba discontinued the format. Since July 22, 2008, UPHE released Blu-rays and it was the last major Hollywood movie studio to do so. The very first three Blu-ray releases to come out in the U.S. were The Mummy, its sequel and The Scorpion King. Since August 9, 2016, UPHE started releasing Ultra HD Blu-rays.
UPHE is the U.S. home video distributor for the Universal Pictures film library, the Focus Features film library, and shows from NBCUniversal Television Distribution (NBC, E!, Syfy, USA Network, Universal Kids, and Oxygen). The division also currently has distribution deals with Bleecker Street, Mattel Creations, Aviron Pictures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Picturehouse, DreamWorks Pictures, GKIDS, Blumhouse Tilt, DreamWorks Classics (via DreamWorks Animation), Big Idea Entertainment, Neon, Entertainment One, and Amazon Studios (starting with Brad's Status) releases. On October 10, 2018, it was confirmed that UPHE would become MGM's home video distributor for films released by the United Artists Releasing joint venture, beginning with the Blu-ray release of Operation Finale on December 4, 2018; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will continue to release MGM's pre-UAR catalog, as well as the 2018 remake of Death Wish.
In the Netherlands, UPHE distributes most DVDs of films released theatrically by Independent Films, although this is now limited to catalog releases, as more recent films are now released through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Belga Films.
UPHE also distributes StudioCanal DVDs and Blu-rays in France, most of the Republic Pictures library in the UK and most of the Carolco Pictures library in Australia, Latin America, and several European countries (along with other StudioCanal properties). In the 1980s until the late 1990s, they also distributed tapes released by Cineplex Odeon in Canada.
UPHE previously distributed its films on video internationally through CIC Video (a division of Cinema International Corporation, later United International Pictures) alongside Paramount Pictures. In Japan, releases from both Universal and Paramount appeared on CIC-Victor Video Ltd. (a joint venture between CIC Video and JVC) for VHS and on Pioneer LDC, Inc. for Laserdisc. Following Universal's acquisition of PolyGram in 1999, PolyGram Video (which had international operations) was dissolved into Universal.
UPHE's international operations are a joint venture with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a carryover from the PolyGram days, but more often than not, both UPHE and SPHE operate a joint venture in Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia called Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The venture distributes UPHE and SPHE titles on home media in those countries and also licenses anime series and films from the anime library of NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan, the Japanese division of UPHE's sister company, Universal Pictures International Entertainment, formerly known as Pioneer LDC from 1981 to 2003, Geneon Entertainment from 2003 to 2009 and Geneon Universal Entertainment from 2009 to very late 2013, the year they switched to their current name. The name of the joint venture is Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia. Before that, though, NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan had a marketing and distribution division in North America called Geneon USA, which, like UPHE, also distributed home video. At the time, NBCUEJ was known as Geneon Entertainment. Geneon USA shut down in late 2007, though UPHE continues to distribute home video worldwide.
From 2017 to 2018, Funimation began directly distributing a select number of its titles in Australia and New Zealand through Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia. In September 2018, Funimation transferred distribution to Madman Entertainment, with Madman handling distribution and classification within the region.
In October 2014, Universal established global headquarters for its home video division in Los Angeles.
At the start of 2015, Paramount Home Media Distribution signed a distribution agreement with Universal, whereby the latter will distribute the former's titles overseas, particularly the territories where Paramount holds an office. The deal began on July 1, 2015 in the United Kingdom. Universal will continue distributing Paramount's DVDs and Blu-rays out of the United States and Canada.
Notes and references
- Lieberman, David; Lieberman, David (3 October 2014). "Universal Shakes Up Home Entertainment Unit Centralizing Global Leadership In L.A." Retrieved 2 January 2019.
- "Operation Finale Blu-ray". Retrieved 2 January 2019 – via www.blu-ray.com.
- http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=59043 Universal Studios Home Video And Columbia Tristar Home Video Join For International DVD Distribution
- Slykura (December 14, 2018). "Some insights". Madboards. Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
- Slykura (January 7, 2019). "In short, we have a new distribution agreement with Funimation which means that we are their local distributors NOT licensee, but distributor for their products". Madboards. Archived from the original on February 12, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
- Lieberman, David; Lieberman, David (12 February 2015). "Universal To Distribute Paramount's DVD & Blu-ray Discs Abroad". Retrieved 2 January 2019.