CBS/Fox Video

The CBS/Fox Company doing business under the brand CBS/Fox Video, was a home video entertainment company formed and established in June 1982, as a merger between 20th Century-Fox Video and CBS Video Enterprises. CBS/Fox released videos in the VHS, Laserdisc, and Betamax home video formats.

The CBS/Fox Company
CBS/Fox Video
TypeGeneral partnership
IndustryHome video
PredecessorsMagnetic Video
20th Century-Fox Video
CBS Video Enterprises
FoundedJune 1982 (1982-06)
Defunct2001 (2001)
FatePartnership ended
Successors20th Century Studios Home Entertainment
CBS Home Entertainment
Area served
ProductsPrerecorded videos
OwnersCBS Inc. (50%)
20th Century Fox (50%)
Footnotes / references

The company was based in Farmington Hills, Michigan (home of its predecessor Magnetic Video) until 1985, when it moved to Livonia, Michigan. In 1989, it moved its headquarters to New York City, where it stayed until it became Fox Video (now 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment) in 1991.

CBS/Fox Video was founded as a 50-50 venture with 20th Century Fox in 1982 when CBS broke off a previous venture formed in 1980 with MGM. During this period, both companies continued to operate independently while maintaining their partnership. A reorganization occurred in 1990 with CBS selling products under the CBS Video name (which had been sparingly used since the 1970s) and mainstream Fox titles being controlled by FoxVideo; the change was enacted in 1991. In the early 2000s, CBS/Fox ceased operations.


Video rental library

Before CBS/Fox Video existed, 20th Century Fox Video released a few titles for rental only, including Dr. No, A Fistful of Dollars, Rocky, Taps, For Your Eyes Only, Omen III: The Final Conflict, La cage aux folles II, and Star Wars. While sale tapes were in big boxes that were later used by CBS/Fox in its early years, Video Rental Library tapes were packaged in black clamshell cases. Similar approaches were taken by other companies.

Joint venture

The 1980s

FoxVideo, Inc.
TypeGeneral partnership
IndustryHome Video
FoundedMarch 1991 (1991-03)
Defunct1998 (1998)
FateCeased operations
Successor20th Century Studios Home Entertainment
Area served
ProductsPre-recorded home video releases
OwnerNews Corporation
Parent20th Century Fox
Footnotes / references

In 1982, CBS formed a 50-50 venture with 20th Century Fox after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer broke off a joint venture with CBS, MGM/CBS Home Video, to market videocassettes and videodiscs.[2] This was publicly announced on June 18, 1982, where they announced CBS's 40-acre film and production facility in Studio City, California (currently known as the CBS Studio Center) would be operated by both companies.[1] In the process, CBS and Fox continued to independently supply programs for the home video market, while CBS/Fox supplied films from motion picture studios.[2]

CBS/Fox inherited deals from its predecessors Magnetic Video and 20th Century-Fox Video to distribute films from other companies, such as United Artists films. The UA titles distributed by CBS/Fox consisted mainly of pre-MGM merger titles (although at the time, MGM held the video rights to some pre-merger films that hadn't yet been released on video), films from the James Bond and Rocky series (some post-merger Bond and Rocky 1980s sequels were released by CBS/Fox as well), and some low profile post-merger films under license from MGM/UA. These UA films were later issued through MGM/UA Home Video (now, MGM Home Entertainment) starting in 1989 (although Fox would later release the post-April 1986 MGM library years later).

Other deals gave CBS/Fox films from Lorimar, including films inherited from Allied Artists (which Lorimar had purchased in 1979); even after acquiring Karl Home Video in 1984 and renaming it to Karl-Lorimar Home Video, some Lorimar titles continued to be distributed by CBS/Fox until Warner Home Video took over distribution, after Warner Bros purchased Lorimar in 1989. Certain Tri-Star Pictures releases also went through CBS/Fox, as CBS, alongside Columbia Pictures and HBO, was a partner in Tri-Star (accordingly, Tri-Star output during the era was split between CBS/Fox, RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, and HBO's various video labels). CBS/Fox also secured rights from George Lucas for the video release of The Empire Strikes Back for $12 million on August 30, 1984. Lucas claimed the deal was to prevent the film from being broadcast on television.[3][4]

In 1985, CBS and 20th Century Fox secured a financial package that saw both companies generate between $75 and $100 million. The deal also included the offering of bonds with the investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert.[5] Also that year, CBS/Fox became the American licensee of BBC Video products.[6] It also offered a licensing deal with Family Communications to release titles based on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.[7]

In 1987, the company increased its rights to BBC Video after buying the rights to 600 titles. When asked about how the agreement came to light, then-CBS/Fox president Leonard White said "The deal is timed to coincide with the BBC's 50th anniversary".[8] Within a month of the announcement, CBS/Fox released a definitive line-up of films named "Five Star Collection IV" which included 28 films. Such films included Revenge of the Nerds, Cat's Eye and Oxford Blues.[9] In 1989, the company began releasing NBA Entertainment titles. In November 1989, the company filed a lawsuit against MGM/UA over a video distribution agreement that was broken. The claim was that CBS/Fox lost revenue after video releases ended up being films that did not perform well in cinemas while MGM/UA distributed higher-grossing films.[10] The two companies had been placed in a bad relationship since 1981 when MGM bought United Artists and CBS broke away from their previous joint venture with MGM to form CBS/Fox.[11] The case was settled on June 26, 1992, when both companies resolved their differences.[12]

The 1990s

In 1990–1991, CBS/Fox began releasing titles from the then-bankrupt Media Home Entertainment. At the end of 1990, CBS/Fox reported they controlled 6.5% of the home video market and reported revenues of $249 million.[13]

In March 1991, a reorganization of the company was made, which would give Fox greater control of the joint venture. All of CBS/Fox's distribution functions were transferred to the newly formed FoxVideo, which would also take over exclusive distribution of all 20th Century Fox products. CBS began releasing their products under the "CBS Video" name (which had been sparingly used since the 1970s), with CBS/Fox handling marketing and FoxVideo handling distribution. CBS/Fox would retain the license to non-theatrical products from third parties, including those from BBC Video and the NBA.[14][15]

The end of CBS/Fox Video

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment was founded in 1995, as an umbrella encompassing FoxVideo, CBS/Fox, and several other divisions, including Fox Interactive. Over the next three years, the FoxVideo and CBS/Fox names were gradually phased out in favor of TCFHE. The final VHS released under the CBS/Fox label would be the US release of Walking with Dinosaurs.

In 2000, CBS's merger with Viacom was finalized, and the CBS/Fox partnership ceased existence, although even after the corporate split CBS/Fox did still own some ancillary rights to two Rodgers and Hammerstein film properties, Oklahoma! and South Pacific, until 20th Century Fox was able to fully assume CBS/Fox's former share of these films. The BBC's license with CBS/Fox ended in Summer 2000 and Warner Home Video took over US distribution of BBC's properties.[16]

Other labels

CBS/Fox used specialty labels for children's and family's videos, music videos, and sports videos. In addition to its main CBS/Fox label, which was mostly A-list fare (although the three Porky's, first Bachelor Party (1984) and first two Revenge of the Nerds (1984 & 1987) movies with their low budgets and concepts and mostly young or unknown casts were also released on it), CBS/Fox maintained two other labels, Key Video (mostly B and drive-in fare and some made for television films, plus some of the a.a.p./United Artists back catalog and low-profile Tri-Star, MGM/UA and Fox releases); and Playhouse Video (children's and family films and programs, including Planet of the Apes 1968-1973 films, Shirley Temple's films, The Muppets videos, Mr. Rogers videos, and Dr. Seuss specials by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises); this label was also used on the earliest Doctor Who VHS releases. These became inactive by 1991, though 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment reactivated the Key Video label as Key DVD.

In Japan for a short period of time from 1985-1988, CBS/Fox Video operates under the name of Shochiku CBS/Fox Video under a joint venture with Shochiku after Shochiku merged their home video operations with CBS/Fox.

Anti-piracy measures

In the attempt to prevent unauthorized tape duplication, CBS/Fox became an early adopter of Macrovision anti-piracy technology.[17] In countries such as Australia, the company introduced a colored spine that was either yellow or blue on VHS tapes. On Betamax cassettes, a polarized seal was present. These measures were taken to ensure that consumers would be guaranteed that their products were of high quality.[18]


  1. ^ a b c "CBS and Fox in Video Venture". The New York Times. 1982-06-18. ISSN 0362-4331.
  2. ^ a b Harrigan, Kathryn Rudie (1985). Joint Ventures, Alliances, and Corporate Strategy. Beard Books. p. 173. ISBN 9781587981951. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  3. ^ "Home Video Rights Sold To 'Empire Strikes Back'". Lexington Herald Leader. August 31, 1984.
  4. ^ "Home Video Right to 'Empire' Sold". The Press Courier. Associated Press. August 31, 1984. p. 4. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  5. ^ Harris, Kathryn (March 2, 1985). "CBS, Fox Discussing Financing Package for Video Partnership". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  6. ^ "CBS-Fox Video". New York Times. December 3, 1985.
  7. ^ Seideman, Tony (1985-10-12). "CBS/FOX Plans Release of BBC Programs" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  8. ^ "CBS-Fox Video Buys Rights To 600 British Broadcasts". Chicago Tribune. April 17, 1987. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  9. ^ Stevens, Mary (May 1, 1987). "CBS/Fox Video Continues Lowered Prices With 28 Titles". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Sanchez, Jesus (November 17, 1989). "CBS/Fox Suing MGM/UA Over Video Distribution Pact". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  11. ^ "The Media Business; CBS/Fox Sues MGM/UA". The New York Times. November 17, 1989. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Lippman, John (January 23, 1991). "CBS May Reduce Role in Fox Video Venture". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  14. ^ Sweeting, Paul (March 2, 1991). "FoxVideo Born as New Logo in CBS/Fox Shifts." Billboard, pages 1 and 78. [1]
  15. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (May 30, 1991). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; G.E. Sells Its 50% Stake In Video Unit". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  16. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2000-07-15.
  17. ^ Fantel, Hans (1987-08-30). "Tangles in the Anti-Copying Thicket". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2012-11-30.
  18. ^ Australian Home Video Anti Piracy Advices on YouTube (Event occurs at 02:14-03:45)

External links