TriStar Pictures, Inc.


Type Division of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Founded 1982

<tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Founder</th><td>Victor Kaufman</td></tr>

Headquarters Culver City, California, USA

<tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Key people</th><td>Steve McQuinn
Randy Oswalt
Lionel Scott</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Industry</th><td>Film</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Products</th><td>Motion pictures</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Parent</th><td>The Coca-Cola Company (1982–1987)
CBS (1982–1985)
HBO/Time Inc. (1982–1986)
Columbia Pictures Entertainment (1987–1991)
Sony Pictures Entertainment (1991–present)</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Divisions</th><td>TriStar Productions</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right; padding-right:0.75em;">Owner</th><td>Sony Pictures Entertainment</td></tr>

TriStar Pictures, Inc. (spelled as Tri-Star until 1991) is an American film production/distribution studio and subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, itself a subdivision of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment.


The concept for TriStar Pictures was the brainchild of Victor Kaufman, a senior executive of Columbia Pictures (then a subsidiary of Coca-Cola),[1] who convinced the studio, HBO, and CBS, to pool resources to split the ever-growing costs of making movies, creating a new joint venture in 1982. On May 16, 1983, it was given the name Tri-Star Pictures (when the new company was formed and did not have an official name, the press used the code-name "Nova", but the name could not be obtained as it was being used as the title for the PBS science series[2][3]). It was the first new major Hollywood studio to be established since RKO Pictures was founded over 50 years earlier.[4]

Their first produced film in 1984 was intended to be The Natural starring Robert Redford, but the first released film was a flop remake of the 1960 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture Where the Boys Are, distributed on behalf of ITC Entertainment after Universal rejected it.[5] During this venture, many of Tri-Star's releases were released on VHS by either RCA-Columbia Pictures Home Video (now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), CBS/FOX Video (now CBS Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), or HBO Video. In addition, HBO would gain exclusive cable distribution rights to these films, and broadcast television licenses would go to CBS.[6]

CBS dropped out of the venture in 1985,[7] though they still distributed some of TriStar's films on home video until at least 1992. In 1986, HBO dropped out of the Tri-Star venture as well and sold half of its shares to Columbia Pictures.[8] The same year, Tri-Star entered into the television business as Tri-Star Television. It was formed when the studio joined forces with Stephen J. Cannell Productions and Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions and created a television distribution company called TeleVentures. In 1987, Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. was renamed to Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. when Coke sold its entertainment business to Tri-Star for $3.1 billion, also creating Columbia/Tri-Star by merging Columbia and Tri-Star. Both studios continued to produce and distribute films under their separate names.[9]

Sony eraEdit

In 1989, all of Coke's entertainment holdings were acquired by Sony Corporation of Japan, who merged Columbia and Tri-Star, but continued to use the separate labels. On July 11, 1990, Tri-Star Pictures dissolved and sold its venture in TeleVentures to Stephen J. Cannell Productions and TeleVentures became Cannell Distribution Co. Most of the series and the Tri-Star film packages that were distributed by TeleVentures were transferred to Columbia Pictures Television Distribution.[10] Sony Pictures Entertainment later revived TriStar Television as a television production banner in 1991 and merged with its sister television studio Columbia Pictures Television to form Columbia TriStar Television on February 21, 1994.[11][12] Both studios continued to operate separately until TriStar folded in 1999 and CPT in 2001.

In addition to its own slate, TriStar was the theatrical distributor for many films produced by Carolco Pictures (the rights to only one of their films, Cliffhanger, has been retained by TriStar). TriStar also theatrically distributes some FilmDistrict titles stateside (their CEO Peter Schlessel is a former Sony Pictures executive, hence FilmDistrict has some ties with them).

Around summer 1998, Sony Pictures Entertainment merged Columbia and TriStar to form the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, but just like Columbia Pictures Entertainment, both divisions continued producing and distributing films under their own names.

TriStar was relaunched in 2004 as a marketing and acquisitions unit that will have a "particular emphasis on genre films".[13] However, the release of its 2013 film Elysium represents the label's first big-budget release since The Mask of Zorro in 1998.

The same year, former 20th Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman joined Sony and created TriStar Productions as a joint venture with existing Sony Pictures executives. The new TriStar will develop, finance and produce up to four films per year, as well as television programming and acquisitions, starting on September 1.[14][15][16] Sony's TriStar Pictures unit will be retained for "other product, including titles from Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions". and will distribute product from the new TriStar.[17] TriStar Productions' product will add to Sony's yearly distribution of films, and will augment the studio's library.


File:TriStar Pictures 1992 logo.png

The company's logo of a Pegasus (either stationary or flying across the screen), introduced in 1984, has become something of a cultural icon. The idea came about because of executive Victor Kaufman and his family's interest in riding horses. The original logo was created with the assistance of Sydney Pollack, who was an adviser at Tri-Star. The horse in that logo was the same one used in Pollack's film The Electric Horseman. The horse in said movie was dark, so Pollack transposed it to look white in the logo.[18]

The second logo was originally painted by Alan Reingold and debuted in 1992, along with sister studio Columbia Pictures, sharing both on-screen logos (as well as Merv Griffin Enterprises) to use the "Cloud BG" featured in Columbia "Torch Lady" logos. The theatrical version was animated by Intralink Creative in 1993. The background is nighttime blue. The clouds are orange.[19]

The short TriStar theme, which accompanied the studio's ident, was composed by Dave Grusin.[20]

The Theme Was Remixed In 1993 And Again In 1998


The TriStar logo has spawned many parodies, such as:


  1. [1]
  2. "What's in a name". Broadcasting: p. 102. 1983-05-16. 
  3. Palmer, L. (1998) "How to write it, how to sell it: everything a screenwriter needs to know about Hollywood" (pp. 232–235). St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0-312-18726-2.
  4. Holt, J. (2011). Empires of Entertainment: Media Industries and the Politics of Deregulation, 1980–1996 (p. 46). Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, NJ, USA. ISBN 978-0-8135-5052-7.
  5. London, Michael. "Tri-Star Bows With a Universal Castoff". Sarasota Herald-Tribune (February 18, 1984).
  6. Prince, S. (2000) A new pot of gold: Hollywood under the electronic rainbow, 1980–1989 (p. 31). Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. ISBN 0-684-80493-X.
  7. "CBS Sells Stake In Tri-Star Inc.". The New York Times. Associated Press. 16 November 1985. 
  8. Prince, Stephen (2002) [2000]. A New Pot of Gold: Hollywood Under the Electronic Rainbow. History of the American Cinema Vol. 10. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780520232662Script error. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  9. KATHRYN HARRIS (September 2, 1987) Coke, Tri-Star Confirm Plans for $3.1-Billion Deal Los Angeles Times, Retrieved on August 8, 2013
  10. "IN BRIEF". Broadcasting: p. 110. 1990-07-16. 
  11. "TriStar President Expected to Head Combined Unit". Los Angeles Times, February 11, 1994. Retrieved on June 28, 2012
  12. "EBSCO Host Connection" Feltheimer heads new Columbia TriStar TV, Retrieved on December 18, 2012
  13. "Sony Pictures – Corporate Fact Sheet". Sony Pictures Entertainment. "The label will have a particular emphasis on genre films" 
  14. Fleming, Mike Jr. Tom Rothman To Launch New TriStar Productions Label For Sony Deadline Hollywood (August 1, 2013).
  15. [2]
  16. MICHAEL CIEPLY (August 1, 2013) Sony Hires Rothman to Head Revived TriStar Unit The New York Times, Retrieved on August 2, 2013
  17. [3]
  18. [4]
  19. "Art classes with Alan Reingold". Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. 
  20. "Tri-Star Logo Theme by Dave Grusin". Most Popular Songs. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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