Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (abbreviated as SPHE) is the home entertainment distribution division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc.
  • Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment (1978–1982)
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video (1981–1991)
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video (1982–1991)
  • Columbia TriStar Home Video (1991–2001)
  • Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (2001–2004)
IndustryHome entertainment
FoundedJune 1978; 45 years ago (1978-06) in Burbank, California, United States
Headquarters10202 West Washington Boulevard, ,
Area served
Key people
Keith LeGoy (President)
ProductsDVD, Blu-ray, EST, VOD
ServicesPhysical and digital distribution
ParentSony Pictures Entertainment
SubsidiariesSony Pictures Kids Zone
Kartoon Studios (equity stake)
Big Picture Productions (Iberia)
WebsiteSPHE website


SPHE is responsible for the distribution of the Sony Pictures library for home entertainment, mainly releases from the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group (Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, and Screen Gems) as well as releases from Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (Triumph Films, Destination Films, Stage 6 Films and Affirm Films). SPHE also releases and distributes products from Revolution Studios and The Criterion Collection. Since June 20, 2007, SPHE has handled distribution of children's content formerly handled by Sony BMG's Sony Wonder label.[1]

SPHE is also responsible for distribution of television shows from the Sony Pictures Television library, including those produced by Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures Television, TriStar Television, Tandem Productions, TOY Productions, ELP Communications (shows include from T.A.T. Communications to ELP Communications), Four D Productions, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television. On some occasions, the company has distributed television titles not owned by Sony, such as Scholastic Productions' Animorphs, Rovio Entertainment's Angry Birds Toons, Angry Birds Stella and Piggy Tales, and The Jim Henson Company's Fraggle Rock and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.

SPHE now distributes anime films or television shows or live-action Japanese/Asian films licensed by Funimation (now known as Crunchyroll, LLC) after their multi-year home video distribution service deal with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (which was formed two years prior[2]) expired.[3]

In Canada, Columbia TriStar Home Video helped distribute tapes from Astral Video in the 1990s. It also has an Australian deal with Hoyts.


Early history

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment was established in June 1978 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, and released 20 titles in November 1979.[4] Its first 20 titles were licensed and distributed by Time-Life Video, a unit of Time-Life Films, but the relationship didn't last long, and Columbia formed its own distribution arm.[5]

In March 1981, Columbia Pictures established a joint venture with RCA, RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video, to distribute tapes in overseas markets. The partnership expanded to North America as RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video the following year; this was in part to give RCA's CED videodisc format a steady stream of titles.[6][7][8] The venture distributed NBC titles, as it was a subsidiary of RCA at the time. When Tri-Star Pictures was formed in 1984, R/CPHV became one of the three primary distributors of Tri-Star product for home video (the other two being CBS/Fox Video and Thorn-EMI/HBO Video {later renamed to HBO/Cannon Video and then simply HBO Video}, as CBS and HBO originally held stakes in Tri-Star), and fully assumed distribution of TriStar titles in the early 1990s. In Australia, they signed a deal to distribute releases from Hoyts Distribution and formed a longstanding relationship in August 1983.[9]

They also distributed titles from various other film companies unrelated to Columbia, including most of New Line Cinema's theatrical releases (though not all, as Media Home Entertainment and Family Home Entertainment distributed several New Line films during the Columbia deal). New Line formed their own video label in 1990 (the result of acquiring Nelson Entertainment, which had previously been Embassy Home Entertainment, itself a former Columbia subsidiary), but continued to go through RCA/Columbia Pictures (as well as SVS-Triumph and then Columbia TriStar Home Video) for distribution until 1994, when Turner Broadcasting acquired New Line and Turner Home Entertainment assumed distribution functions. Other companies distributed by RCA/Columbia included Weintraub Entertainment and 21st Century Distribution.

In 1987, once pre-existing distribution deals had expired, Tri-Star Pictures announced that it would be launching a home video unit, Tri-Star Video, with Saul Melnick, a former MGM/UA Home Video employee, as its president.[10] In 1988, after Coke sold its entertainment business, Tri-Star Video was merged into RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.[11] In late 1989, it was rumored that Trans World Entertainment would eventually sign a deal with RCA/Columbia to distribute its titles.[12][13] This rumor bore fruit by that December when a deal with TWE -- which had by this point become a part of Epic Productions, which struck a separate distribution deal with RCA/Columbia not long before -- was officially announced.[14]

In March 1990, NBC filed a lawsuit against Columbia and its then-new parent company Sony under the perception that the latter two parties were violating their joint pact. Columbia purchased the foreign video rights to Orion Pictures titles a month earlier. NBC alleged that they were unaware of this transaction and had become convinced that Columbia was forming their own video unit in strict defiance of the joint venture, which was set to expire in 1992. Sony/Columbia denied NBC's claims.[15] As the lawsuit continued into 1991, General Electric, the parent of NBC and RCA, announced that it was divesting its interest in RCA/Columbia.[16] In August 1991, General Electric sold its 50% share of the company to Sony Corporation, and the litigation officially ended with Sony renaming the company as Columbia TriStar Home Video.[17] In 1998, it inked a deal with The Jim Henson Company to launch its own video label, Jim Henson Home Entertainment, with CTHV distributing; at the time, Columbia and Henson were also allied theatrically for the Jim Henson Pictures venture.[18]

On February 28, 1999, CTHV and Universal Studios Home Video signed a multi-year deal to allow CTHV to distribute Universal's products on DVD outside North America.[19]

It was named Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment from April 2001 until a name change to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in November 2004.[20]

SPHE had a three-year deal with Starz's Anchor Bay Entertainment for worldwide DVD releases, with the exceptions of North America, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.[21]


In 2005, when Sony and four partners acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) from Kirk Kerkorian, SPHE held the domestic home entertainment rights to MGM's 4,000 film and 10,400 television episode library, though the releases used the MGM DVD label. On May 31, 2006, MGM ended its distribution deal with SPHE and transferred most of its output to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

In 2006, long time SPHE president Ben Feingold left the company and was replaced by MGM Home Entertainment executive Dave Bishop, who brought along numerous MGM employees to replace Sony staffers.[22]

In February 2011, Sony regained full distribution rights to MGM Home Entertainment library under a deal that pays SPHE 8% in distribution fees (industry norm is 10%).[23]

Recent history

On February 21, 2010, The Weinstein Company (TWC) made a home video distribution deal with SPHE through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.[24] On August 31, 2010, SPHE partnered with Image Entertainment in a multi-year agreement, marketing and distributing DVDs and Blu-rays by Image. Image retains its own sales and marketing.[25]

On April 23, 2012, Mill Creek announced that they had signed a home video distribution deal with SPHE, acquiring the rights to distribute 250 films from the Sony Pictures catalog on DVD and Blu-ray.[26] On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment signed a deal with SPHE to distribute 665 SPE films and 54 television series on DVD.[27]

Anime News Network reported in February 2013 that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Australian joint venture with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment licensed anime television series from NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan for distribution in Australia, with its initial titles, A Certain Magical Index, Shakugan no Shana and Armitage III, scheduled for release on April 24, 2013.[28] From 2017 to 2018, Funimation began directly distributing a select number of its anime titles in Australia and New Zealand through Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Australian joint venture with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In September 2018, Funimation transferred distribution to Madman Entertainment, with Madman handling distribution and classification within the region.[29][30]

On December 18, 2013, SPHE president David Bishop, who had served since 2006, announced he would leave when his contract expired in March 2014.[31] It was announced that Man Jit Singh would replace Bishop.[32]

On July 22, 2015, SPHE and Transmission Films reached a multi-year distribution pact to release Transmission's library in Australia (through Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia Pty Limited) and in New Zealand.[33] On November 20, 2015, SPHE announced that it would release Ultra HD Blu-ray releases.[34]

On March 15, 2016, SPHE partnered with eOne to distribute films by Momentum Pictures across the globe except for Canada on physical and digital home entertainment platforms.[35] In January 2017, SPHE expanded its distribution deal with Genius Brands to include all properties and acquired an equity stake in the company.[36]

On February 6, 2018, Man Jit Singh stepped down as president of SPHE and was replaced by Keith LeGoy.[37]

In February 2021, Sony announced it would distribute releases by Lionsgate Home Entertainment in North America beginning in July 2021, when Lionsgate's distribution deal with 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment expires.[38]


During this time, the company also has and had some sub-labels, including:

  • Magic Window – Children's titles (including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and The Real Ghostbusters,[39] as well as classic Columbia/UPA cartoons).
  • SVS-Triumph – Some low-profile Columbia, TriStar, New Line, CineTel Films and Epic Productions releases, and releases from Triumph Films (it was founded in 1979 as Sony Video Services, then Sony Video Software,[40] and renamed after the formation of Sony Pictures Entertainment, to be used briefly in-between the ending of the RCA joint venture and the formation of Columbia-TriStar[41]).
  • Musicvision – A short-lived music video division of RCA/Columbia Pictures HV in the mid-1980s, primarily releasing artists linked to RCA Records.[42]
  • Columbia Classics – A label releasing classic films on DVD by Columbia Pictures; it was previously used for VHS and LaserDisc releases as well.
  • Screen Classics by Request -- A service available on the web, where classic films are pressed and ordered directly from Sony, similar to Warner Bros.' "Warner Archive" brand. A similar service called "Choice Collection" also exists, but is pressed and ordered directly from Warner, via the systems used for the "Warner Archive" titles.[43]
  • Superbit

International sub-labels

  • RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video – Used for videos distributed outside the US and Canada. Orion Pictures films were distributed globally via this label.
  • 20/20 Vision – A British rental home video label that released films by TriStar Pictures, Goldcrest Films International, New Line Cinema, Triumph Films and Columbia Pictures.
  • Cinema Club - British joint-venture with Video Collection International for budget-priced movies mainly from CTHV's catalog that VCI would distribute.[44] The venture was later sold entirely to VCI, who used it as their low-price budget label for mainstream releases.
  • First Independent Films – a British film distributor and home video company formed by HTV after acquiring Vestron Video International's UK operations in May 1990. First Independent was sold to Sony in 1997 and was entirely folded into Columbia TriStar Home Video by 1999. However, Columbia TriStar continued to use the First Independent Films label for some years afterwards.
  • First Release Home Entertainment – A mixture of B-movies, Magic Window, music videos, TriStar, top TV shows, re-releases, Thames Video and some mainstream Hoyts/Columbia/Cannon/Triumph/other film releases in Australia and The Netherlands.
  • Gaumont-Columbia-RCA Video – A joint-venture with Gaumont that released Gaumont, Columbia, TriStar, and Triumph products on VHS. They were formed in 1982, renamed as Gaumont/RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video in 1986, and under its final name in 1992.
  • RCA/Columbia Pictures/Hoyts Video Pty. Ltd. – An Australian joint-venture with Hoyts Distribution that was formed in August 1983.[9] The company released products from Hoyts, Cannon Films, Columbia Pictures, TriStar and Triumph Films in the market.
  • Video Box Office – a mixture of B-movies, HBO and some mainstream releases in Australia.
  • VideoServis – A Russian home video label with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment that released films by Columbia Pictures, Monumental Pictures, TriStar and Screen Gems, created in 1994.[45]

During the time that Consolidated Press Holdings, and later Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and West Australian Newspapers owned Hoyts, they re-established the Hoyts Distribution arm of the company. SPHE Australia releases Hoyts titles, including the recent box-office hit, Twilight. They also released the handful of films from the Nine Network's film arm, Nine Films and Television.

SPHE also handles the Australian DVD distribution of Lionsgate titles (via Hoyts), after that company was unsuccessful in purchasing Magna Pacific, and the subsequent collapse of the successful bidder, Destra Entertainment.


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  2. ^ "Funimation and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Enter Into Multi-Year Distribution Agreement" (Press release). PR Newswire. June 22, 2015. Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  3. ^ "Sony and Funimation: What does that mean for you?". August 2017.
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External links