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Vestron Video logo, used from 1986 to 1992
|Industry||Home video company|
|Fate||Parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, assets acquired by LIVE Entertainment|
|Austin Owen Furst, Jr.|
|Parent||Vestron, Inc. (1981–1991)|
LIVE Entertainment (1991–1992)
Vestron Video was the main subsidiary of Vestron, Inc., a home video company based in Stamford, Connecticut, that was active from 1981 to 1992, and is considered to have been a pioneer in the home video market.
Vestron was founded in 1981 by Austin Owen Furst, Jr. (born 1943), an executive at HBO, who was hired to dismantle the assets of Time-Life Films. Furst bought the video rights of the film library for himself and decided to form a home entertainment company with these assets. Furst's daughter suggested the moniker "Vestron," a portmanteau combining the name of Roman goddess Vesta and "Tron", which means "instrument" in Greek.
The company held on to its Time-Life Video library, and was also responsible for releases on Video Home System (VHS) videocassette as well as CED Videodisc (CED) of mostly B movies and films from the Cannon Films' library. They also distributed films under The Movie Store banner. The most notable titles Vestron released were Dirty Dancing, Monster Squad, and An American Werewolf in London. In later years, the company began to shift towards mainstream films, including films released through their Vestron Pictures subsidiary, most notably Dirty Dancing. Vestron was the first company to release National Geographic and PBS' Nova videos in the late 1980s, mostly distributed by Image Entertainment, and was the first to market with a pro wrestling video, Pro Wrestling Illustrated Presents Lords of the Ring. They also released a 3-volume series called How to Beat Home Video Games, which contains strategies for video games of the time.
They also handled exclusive US distribution, marketing and sales of VidAmerica releases beginning in 1983. Starting in 1985, they handed these duties to their genre sub-label, Lightning Video.
Vestron went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1985 with what was, at the time, a large market cap initial public offering (IPO) of $440 million, which was oversubscribed. The company enjoyed success for several years, at one point exceeding 10% of the US video movie market. At its high point sales approximated $350 million annually, and the company sold video movies in over 30 countries either directly or through sub-licensing agreements. This was a rights business, built by people who saw the value in video (VCR) rights to films before the major studios did. Eventually they recognized the market potential and film products became increasingly harder for Vestron to acquire. Also, independent producers increased the price of what was available.
The company started to make its own films (Dirty Dancing, Earth Girls Are Easy, Blue Steel), but when the market's preferences matured, and shifted from watching almost any film to just watching "A" titles, which was the majors' specialty, Vestron was already committed to about 20 "B" to low-"A" projects.
The company's financing fell through and it eventually filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, and was bought out on January 11, 1991, by Los Angeles-based LIVE Entertainment, a home video and music company, for $27.3 million. LIVE acquired Vestron's extensive (3,000 plus) film library; titles continued to be released under the Vestron name until 1992, with LIVE distributing these releases. The International branches were split up and sold off after the bankruptcy during 1991, the UK branch was sold a year prior to Welsh ITV franchise holder HTV and renamed to First Independent Films.
Their international divisions itself were the second largest after Warner Bros. Vestron had many direct theatrical, video and TV distribution offices around the world in major markets, and owned a video manufacturing plant in the Netherlands to supply European markets. Today, most of Vestron Video's holdings are owned by Lions Gate Entertainment, which acquired LIVE's forerunner company, Artisan Entertainment, in 2003.
Vestron, Inc.'s subsidiaries included:
- Vestron Video (1981–1992)
- Vestron Pictures (1986–1990)
- Vestron Music Video (1980s)
- Vestron International Group
- Vestron Television, whose most notable production was a television series based on Dirty Dancing.
- Vestron Video International (1987–1991)
- Children's Video Library (1983–1987): Children's/family video sub-label.
- Lightning Video (1985–1990): genre sub-label.
- Lightning Pictures (1987–1989)
- Interaccess Film Distribution: Overseas distribution unit, formerly entitled Producers Distribution Organization. Many of its staff were hired from Producers Sales Organization after its bankruptcy.
Vestron Video Collector's Series
On August 1, 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment announced its resurrection of the Vestron Video brand as a Blu-ray and DVD reissue label for Vestron and other Lionsgate-owned horror films, similar to boutique labels like Scream Factory and Blue Underground. This line, dubbed the Vestron Video Collector's Series, is branded with an updated version of the first Vestron Video logo from 1982–1986 and began with Blu-ray releases of the cult films Chopping Mall (an outside theatrical release) and Blood Diner (released by Lightning Pictures) on September 27, 2016.
|#||Title||Home Video Release||Theatrical Release||Original Distributor||Format(s)||Notes|
|01||Chopping Mall||September 27, 2016||March 21, 1986||Concorde Pictures||Blu-ray|
|02||Blood Diner||July 10, 1987||Lightning Pictures||Blu-ray|
|03||Waxwork||October 18, 2016||June 17, 1988||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray||Double Feature|
|Waxwork II: Lost in Time||June 16, 1992||Electric Pictures|
|04||Return of the Living Dead 3||November 22, 2016||October 29, 1993||Trimark Pictures||Blu-ray|
|05||C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D.||September 27, 1989||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|06||The Lair of the White Worm||January 31, 2017||September 14, 1988||Blu-ray|
|07||Parents||January 27, 1989||Blu-ray|
|08||The Gate||February 28, 2017||May 15, 1987||New Century Vista Film Company
|09||Wishmaster||March 28, 2017||September 19, 1997||LIVE Entertainment||Blu-ray||4-Film Set|
|Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies||August 17, 1999||Artisan Entertainment|
|Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell||October 23, 2001|
|Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled||October 22, 2002|
|10||The Unholy||June 27, 2017||April 22, 1988||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|11||Warlock||July 25, 2017||January 11, 1991||Trimark Pictures
New World Pictures
|Warlock: The Armageddon||September 24, 1993||Trimark Pictures|
|Warlock III: The End of Innocence||October 12, 1999||Trimark Pictures|
|12||Slaughter High||October 31, 2017||November 14, 1986||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|13||Gothic||January 30, 2018||April 10, 1987||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
|14||Class of 1999||May 11, 1990||Lightning Pictures||Blu-ray|
|15||Beyond Re-Animator||July 24, 2018||April 4, 2003||Lions Gate Entertainment||Blu-ray|
|16||Dagon||October 31, 2001||Lions Gate Entertainment||Blu-ray|
|17||Maximum Overdrive||October 23, 2018||July 25, 1986||De Laurentiis Entertainment Group||Blu-ray|
|18||Shivers||September 15, 2020||October 10, 1975||Cinepix||Blu-ray|
|19||Little Monsters||August 25, 1989||Vestron Pictures||Blu-ray|
- Wasser, Frederick (2001). Veni, Vidi, Video: The Hollywood Empire and the VCR (1st ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 9780292791466. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
Vestron 1981 founded.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 25 December 1982. pp. 44–. ISSN 0006-2510. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc . 23 February 1985. pp. 25–. ISSN 0006-2510. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 13 July 1985. pp. 9–. ISSN 0006-2510. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017.
- "Vestron hired 3 members of PSO's management". Los Angeles Times. 1986-08-26. ISSN 0458-3035. Archived from the original on 2016-12-03. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
- LA BRIEFLY. Daily News of Los Angeles (August 26, 1986).
- Billboard (November 1, 1986), p. 48
- Hutchinson, Sean (October 14, 2016). "Making Horror Schlock Into Collector's Items with Vestron Video: Why Lionsgate is giving movies like 'Chopping Mall' and 'Blood Diner' the VIP Blu-ray treatment". Inverse. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Alexander, Chris (August 1, 2016). "Exclusive: Vestron Video Returns with Blood Diner Blu-ray". Coming Soon. Archived from the original on August 5, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
- Hunt, Bill (August 1, 2016). "Lionsgate bows new Vestron BD series, plus BFI's Napoleon, Peter Gabriel, Da Vinci Code 4K, Phantasm & more". The Digital Bits. Archived from the original on August 10, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
- Barton, Steve (August 4, 2016). "Lionsgate Unveils New Vestron Video Logo". Dread Central. Archived from the original on August 10, 2016. Retrieved August 6, 2016.