PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (formerly known as PolyGram Films and PolyGram Pictures or simply PFE) was a British-American film studio founded in 1980 which became a European competitor to Hollywood, but was eventually sold to Seagram Company Ltd. in 1998 and was folded in 1999. Among its most successful and well known films were An American Werewolf in London (1981), Flashdance (1983), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Usual Suspects (1995), and Notting Hill (1999).
|PolyGram Filmed Entertainment|
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment logo, used from 1997 until 1999
|Fate||Acquired by Universal Pictures and merged with Gramercy Pictures, and October Films in 1999 to form USA Films|
Name revived by Universal Music Group in 2017 and renamed PolyGram Entertainment
Universal Pictures (1998–1999)
The music company PolyGram (owned by Dutch-based Philips and Germany's Siemens) created PolyGram Pictures in 1980 as a partnership with film producer Peter Guber. It was a spin-off of sorts to Casablanca FilmWorks, the film unit of PolyGram's Casablanca Records which Guber previously ran and had success with The Deep and Midnight Express. PolyGram reserved the finances and Guber would run as CEO. Guber would form a partnership with Barbra Streisand's hairdresser Jon Peters, who co-produced his client's A Star Is Born remake. Peters would produce PolyGram's films, and eventually become a stockholder with Guber.
Its first film was King of the Mountain (1981), which was a box-office flop. More money-losers followed. Ancillary markets such as home video and pay television were not yet established, and broadcast television networks were paying less for licenses to films. PolyGram's European investors were not happy; they had lost about $80 million on its film division. Not long after, Siemens parted with Philips. Guber and Peters left PolyGram Pictures in 1982, taking their plans for a new Batman movie with them, along with a few other projects. The duo eventually found a home at Warner Bros. A part of their exit proceedings, PolyGram would still own 7.5% of profits from some of its projects, including the 1989 Batman film.
In the early 1980s, PolyGram Video was launched. PolyGram Video, headed by Michael Kuhn and David Hockman, was created to distribute concert films and feature films acquired from third-parties, as well as long-form music videos. Kuhn and Hockman were able to parlay PolyGram Video's success into financing feature films. The first film produced by PolyGram's new film division was P.I. Private Investigations in 1987. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, PolyGram continued to invest in a diversified film unit with the purchases of individual production companies. In 1989, PolyGram launched Manifesto Film Sales to handle the licensing of films outside North America. In 1991, PolyGram's Michael Kuhn became the head of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, with US$200 million pumped in with the intention of developing a European film studio that could produce and distribute films internationally on a scale to match the major Hollywood studios.
Following the style of its music business, the company produced films through a number of creatively semi-autonomous 'labels', such as Working Title Films in the UK and Propaganda Films and Interscope Communications in the United States; It also built up its own network of distribution companies.
Film production within PolyGram differed from traditional Hollywood studios, in that power to make ('green light') a film was not centralised in the hands of a small number of executives, but instead was decided by negotiations between producers, management and marketing. Kuhn claimed that "movies sort of green lit themselves."
PolyGram also built up a sizable film and television library that could be profitable. In 1995, the company purchased ITC Entertainment for $156 million. Through this purchase, PolyGram acquired 350 feature films, several thousand hours of television programming, and gained further access into the television market. In 1997, PFE agreed to purchase the Epic film library, which included a thousand feature films, from Crédit Lyonnais Bank for $225 million. PolyGram also attempted purchasing MGM and The Samuel Goldwyn Company's library, but to no avail.
PFE was based in the United Kingdom, and invested heavily in British film making — some credit it with reviving the British film industry in the 1990s. Despite a successful production history, Philips decided to sell PolyGram to the beverage (liquor) conglomerate Seagram in 1998.
Only interested in PolyGram's music operations, Seagram, which at the time controlled Universal Pictures, looked forward to divesting in PFE. After being dissatisfied with offers to buy the studio (including a joint venture between Canal+ and Artisan Entertainment), Seagram opted to sell off individual assets and folded whatever remained into Universal. In October 1998, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (through Orion Pictures) paid $235-250 million to acquire 1,300 films released before March 31, 1996 from PolyGram.. In 1999, the ITC library was sold to Carlton Communications (later known as ITV Studios) for $150 million. Some of PFE's North American distribution assets were sold to USA Networks. Universal Pictures now owns the rest of the post-1996 films (beginning with Barb Wire) and PolyGram Television.
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment took over the distribution of Manga Entertainment's titles in Australia and New Zealand in late 1996 after Siren Entertainment's license to the Manga Video catalogue expired, but PolyGram lost the license to the Manga Video catalogue in 1998 after Madman Entertainment took over the licenses. This was due to Manga Entertainment being moved from Island Records to Palm Pictures.
In 1992, PolyGram partnered with Universal Pictures to create a joint venture called Gramercy Pictures. Gramercy primarily distributed PolyGram films in the USA, and it doubled as a specialty label for Universal. In 1997, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Distribution was founded to release PFE's mainstream titles in the USA, while Gramercy became a low-budget/art-house sublabel. After PolyGram's merger with Universal in 1999, the company merged Gramercy with October Films to create USA Films, which eventually became Focus Features.
Among the films directly produced by PFE were:
|February 29, 1980||Foxes||co-production with United Artists|
|May 30, 1980||The Hollywood Knights||co-production with Columbia Pictures|
|May 1, 1981||King of the Mountain||released by Universal Pictures|
|July 17, 1981||Endless Love||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|August 14, 1981||Deadly Blessing||released by United Artists|
|August 21, 1981||An American Werewolf in London||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|November 13, 1981||The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|March 12, 1982||Missing||co-production with Universal Pictures|
|October 3, 1982||Split Image||released by Orion Pictures|
|December 24, 1982||Six Weeks||released by Universal Pictures|
|April 15, 1983||Flashdance||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|December 13, 1985||A Chorus Line||co-production with Columbia Pictures and Embassy Pictures|
|December 13, 1985||Clue||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|April 22, 1988||The Blue Iguana||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|March 24, 1989||Troop Beverly Hills||co-production with Weintraub Entertainment Group|
|December 8, 1989||Fear, Anxiety & Depression||released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|July 27, 1990||Chicago Joe and the Showgirl||co-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films|
|August 17, 1990||Wild at Heart||co-production with The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
|September 14, 1990||Fools of Fortune||co-production with New Line Cinema|
|May 24, 1991||Drop Dead Fred||co-production with New Line Cinema and Working Title Films|
|November 1991||Driving Me Crazy||co-production with Motion Picture Corporation of America|
|January 17, 1992||A Gnome Named Gnorm||co-production with Vestron Pictures|
|March 27, 1992||Ruby||co-production with Triumph Films|
|August 7, 1992||London Kills Me||distributed by Fine Line Features|
|September 4, 1992||Bob Roberts||distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with Miramax Films, LIVE Entertainment and Working Title Films|
|October 16, 1992||Candyman||co-production with TriStar Pictures|
|April 23, 1993||Map of the Human Heart||distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Working Title Films|
|May 14, 1993||Posse||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|August 20, 1993||The Ballad of Little Jo||distributed Fine Line Features|
|September 3, 1993||Kalifornia||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|October 8, 1993||The Young Americans||distributed by LIVE Entertainment; co-production with Working Title Films|
|November 5, 1993||A Home of Our Own||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|January 7, 1994||The Air Up There||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|February 4, 1994||Romeo Is Bleeding||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|March 9, 1994||Four Weddings and a Funeral||co-production with Working Title Films and Channel Four Films|
|March 11, 1994||The Hudsucker Proxy||distributed by Warner Bros.; co-production with Working Title Films and Silver Pictures|
|April 8, 1994||Holy Matrimony||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|April 15, 1994||Backbeat||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|May 6, 1994||Dream Lover||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|August 10, 1994||The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|September 23, 1994||Terminal Velocity||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|September 28, 1994||Jason's Lyric||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|January 20, 1995||S.F.W.||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|February 10, 1995||Shallow Grave||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|February 24, 1995||Before the Rain||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|March 17, 1995||Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|May 3, 1995||Panther||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|May 5, 1995||French Kiss||distributed by 20th Century Fox; co-production with Working Title Films|
|July 28, 1995||Operation Dumbo Drop||distributed by Walt Disney Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|August 16, 1995||The Usual Suspects||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|September 22, 1995||Canadian Bacon||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|September 29, 1995||Moonlight and Valentino||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|November 3, 1995||Home for the Holidays||distributed by Paramount Pictures|
|November 10, 1995||Carrington||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|December 29, 1995||Dead Man Walking||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|December 29, 1995||Mr. Holland's Opus||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|February 23, 1996||La Haine||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|March 8, 1996||Fargo||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|March 22, 1996||Jack and Sarah||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Granada Productions and Le Studio Canal+|
|Land and Freedom||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|May 3, 1996||Barb Wire||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
All films released since this point are owned by Universal Pictures
|May 31, 1996||Eddie||distributed by Hollywood Pictures; co-production with Island Pictures|
|July 17, 1996||Walking and Talking||distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films, Zenith Productions, Pandora Film, Mikado Films (France), Electric, TEAM Communications Group and Good Machine|
|July 17, 1996||Kazaam||co-production with Touchstone Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|July 19, 1996||Trainspotting||distributed by Miramax Films; co-production with Channel Four Films|
|September 20, 1996||Loch Ness||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|October 18, 1996||Sleepers||co-production with Propaganda Films|
distributed by Warner Bros. in North America
|October 18, 1996||Jude||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|December 24, 1996||The Portrait of a Lady||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|January 10, 1997||The Relic||distributed by Paramount Pictures|
|January 29, 1997||Gridlock'd||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|February 14, 1997||When We Were Kings||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|March 7, 1997||The Eighth Day||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|April 11, 1997||Keys to Tulsa||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with ITC Entertainment|
|May 9, 1997||Twin Town||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|August 6, 1997||Def Jam's How to Be a Player||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|August 24, 1997||Snow White: A Tale of Terror||co-production with Interscope Communications|
|September 12, 1997||The Game||co-production with Propaganda Films|
|September 19, 1997||Going All the Way||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|October 3, 1997||The Matchmaker||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|October 24, 1997||A Life Less Ordinary||distributed by 20th Century Fox|
|November 7, 1997||Bean||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|December 5, 1997||The Borrowers||co-production with Working Title Films|
|January 16, 1998||Hard Rain||distributed by Paramount Pictures; co-production with BBC Films, Mutual Film Company, Nordisk Film and Toho|
|January 23, 1998||Spice World||distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment; co-production with Icon Productions and Columbia Pictures|
|The Gingerbread Man||co-production with Island Pictures and Enchanter Entertainment|
|February 18, 1998||I Want You||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|February 26, 1998||Dead Letter Office|
|March 6, 1998||The Big Lebowski||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|March 27, 1998||No Looking Back||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|The Proposition||co-production with Interscope Communications|
|Barney's Great Adventure: The Movie||co-production with Lyrick Studios|
|May 1, 1998||Wilde||distributed by Sony Pictures Classics; co-production with BBC Films, Capitol Films and Pony Canyon|
|Go Now||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|May 29, 1998||The Last Days of Disco||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Castle Rock Entertainment|
|June 12, 1998||The Land Girls||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|August 14, 1998||Return to Paradise||co-production with Propaganda Films and Tetragram|
|August 21, 1998||Your Friends & Neighbors||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|September 25, 1998||Clay Pigeons||distributed by Gramercy Pictures|
|October 2, 1998||What Dreams May Come||co-production with Interscope Communications|
|November 13, 1998||Thursday||co-production with Propaganda Films|
|November 22, 1998||Elizabeth||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with StudioCanal, Working Title Films and Channel Four Films|
|November 25, 1998||Very Bad Things||co-production with Interscope Communications|
|January 22, 1999||The Hi-Lo Country||distributed by Gramercy Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|February 1999||Choke||co-production with Propaganda Films|
|March 5, 1999||Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels||distributed by Gramercy Pictures in U.S.; co-production with The Steve Tisch Company, SKA Films, HandMade Films and Summit Entertainment. Columbia TriStar Pictures internationally distributed|
|May 28, 1999||Notting Hill||distributed by Universal Pictures; co-production with Working Title Films|
|July 9, 1999||Arlington Road||distributed by Screen Gems; co-production with Lakeshore Entertainment|
|October 1, 1999||Plunkett & Macleane||distributed by USA Films; co-production with Working Title Films|
|October 29, 1999||Being John Malkovich||distributed by USA Films; co-production with Propaganda Films|
|February 18, 2000||Pitch Black||distributed by USA Films; co-production with Interscope Communications|
|March 24, 2000||Waking the Dead||distributed by USA Films|
|April 14, 2000||Where the Money Is||distributed by USA Films|
|July 28, 2000||Wonderland||distributed by USA Films|
Backbeat is a 1994 Anglo-German independent drama film directed by Iain Softley. It chronicles the early days of the Beatles in Hamburg, Germany. The film focuses primarily on the relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff) and John Lennon (Ian Hart), and also with Sutcliffe's German girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr (Sheryl Lee). It has subsequently been made into a stage production.Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a 1992 American-British satirical mockumentary film written, directed by, and starring Tim Robbins. It depicts the rise of Robert "Bob" Roberts Jr., a right-wing politician who is a candidate for an upcoming United States Senate election. Roberts is well financed, due mainly to past business dealings, and is well known for his music, which presents conservative ideas with gusto.
The film is Robbins's directorial debut, and is based on a short segment of the same title and featuring the same character that Robbins portrayed on Saturday Night Live.Clay Pigeons
Clay Pigeons is a 1998 crime-comedy film written by Matt Healy and directed by David Dobkin. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, and Janeane Garofalo.Dead Man Walking (film)
Dead Man Walking is a 1995 American crime drama film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, and co-produced and directed by Tim Robbins, who adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book of the same name.
Sister Helen Prejean (Sarandon) establishes a special relationship with Matthew Poncelet (Penn), a character based on convicted murderers Elmo Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie. He is a prisoner on death row in Louisiana, and she visits him as his spiritual adviser after having corresponded with him.Eddie (film)
Eddie is a 1996 comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Langella. The film barely broke even at the box office, grossing $31,387,164 in the US. The film was directed by Steve Rash.Go Now (film)
Go Now is a 1995 television film directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Robert Carlyle as an MS-afflicted soccer player/construction worker struggling with the onset of multiple sclerosis.
It had a limited theatrical release in the United Kingdom and United States. It won the Prix Europa Television Programme of the Year 1995.Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures is a currently dormant American film production label of Universal Studios' Focus Features division, both of which are owned by NBCUniversal which is ultimately owned by Comcast. It was founded in May 1992 as a joint venture between PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Gramercy was the distributor of PolyGram films in the United States and Canada and also served as Universal's art-house division. After Seagram's buyout of PolyGram, Gramercy along with October Films were merged by Barry Diller to form USA Films in 1999. In 2015, Focus Features (the current art-house division for Universal) revived the name as a label for action, horror and sci-fi genre films; the label went silent after the release of Ratchet & Clank.I Want You (1998 film)
I Want You is a 1998 English crime film directed by Michael Winterbottom.Interscope Communications
Interscope Communications (also known as Interscope Pictures) was a motion picture production company founded in 1982 by Ted Field. It soon became a division of Interscope Records (which was founded in 1990 as a joint venture with Atlantic Records).Jude (film)
Jude is a 1996 British period drama film directed by Michael Winterbottom, and written by Hossein Amini, based on Thomas Hardy's novel Jude the Obscure. The original music score was composed by Adrian Johnston.
The film was shot in late 1995 in Edinburgh and locations in County Durham including Durham Cathedral, Durham City, Ushaw College, Blanchland village and Beamish museum.
In a 2011 interview for theartsdesk, lead actor Christopher Eccleston commented on the film: "Of all the films I've done, Jude is the one that I'd stand by, the one I'd like people to come back to. The rest is much of a muchness."Kazaam
Kazaam () is a 1996 American musical fantasy comedy film directed by Paul Michael Glaser, written by Christian Ford and Roger Soffer based on a story by Glaser, and starring Shaquille O'Neal as the title character, a 5,000-year-old genie who appears from a magic boombox to grant a boy three wishes.
The film was released on July 17, 1996, grossing $19 million on its $20 million budget.Panther (film)
Panther is a 1995 cinematic adaptation of Melvin Van Peeble's novel Panther, produced and directed by Mario Van Peebles. The drama film portrays the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, tracing the organization from its founding through its decline in a compressed timeframe. It was the first narrative feature-film to depict the Black Panther Party.Sleepers
Sleepers is a 1996 American legal crime drama film written, produced, and directed by Barry Levinson, and based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's 1995 novel of the same name. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Jason Patric, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Vittorio Gassman.The Hi-Lo Country
The Hi-Lo Country is a 1998 American Western-drama film directed by Stephen Frears, starring Billy Crudup, Penélope Cruz, Woody Harrelson, Cole Hauser, Sam Elliott, Patricia Arquette, Enrique Castillo, and Katy Jurado. It is set in post-World War II New Mexico and is based on the Western novel by Max Evans.The Portrait of a Lady (film)
The Portrait of a Lady is a 1996 film adaptation of Henry James's novel The Portrait of a Lady directed by Jane Campion.
The film stars Nicole Kidman, Barbara Hershey, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Donovan, Shelley Duvall, Richard E. Grant, Shelley Winters, Viggo Mortensen, Valentina Cervi, Christian Bale, and John Gielgud.The Young Americans (film)
The Young Americans is a 1993 crime drama that marked the feature film debut of British director Danny Cannon and his friend David Arnold, best known for composing scores for five of the James Bond films.Very Bad Things
Very Bad Things is a 1998 American black comedy film directed by Peter Berg and starring Cameron Diaz, Jon Favreau, Daniel Stern, Jeremy Piven, Christian Slater, Leland Orser and Jeanne Tripplehorn.When We Were Kings
When We Were Kings is a 1996 Oscar-winning documentary film directed by Leon Gast about the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The fight was held in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on October 30, 1974.
The film features a number of celebrities, including James Brown, Jim Brown, B.B. King, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Spike Lee and Thomas Hauser.
When We Were Kings was released in 1996 to strong reviews, and won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.It took Gast 22 years to edit and finance the documentary before it was finally released.Working Title Films
Working Title is a British film and television production company owned by Universal Pictures. The company was founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe in 1984. It produces feature films and several television productions. Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan are now the co chairmen of the company.
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Film studios in the United States and Canada