Columbia Pictures

 By Matthew Fernandes

Columbia Pictures Logo/Columbia Pictures/truthcontrol.com

Columbia Pictures Logo – Columbia Pictures [1]

Columbia Pictures is a major film production and distribution studio, and primary wing of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. The company is a leading division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. With a history spanning nearly 100 years Columbia has produced over 3,500 films, many among them classics [23].

Columbia Pictures Logo Transformation

Columbia, Screen Gems and Sony Picture Entertainment Logos [4]

Columbia, Screen Gems and Sony Picture Entertainment Logos [4]

Columbia’s History

Beginnings

Harry Cohn [2]

Harry Cohn [2]

Columbia has a long history, beginning in 1922 with producers Harry Cohn, Jack Cohn and Joe Brandt [2].

 

Joe Brandt [2]

Joe Brandt [2]

Jack Cohn [2]

Jack Cohn [2]

 

They had originally called the company CBC, but changed the name to Columbia in  1922. They produced their first film More to Be Pitied Than Scorned that same year [2].

 

 

 Film Poster [3]

Film Poster [3]

Capra and the 30s

In 1924, the company really began to expand with the debut of director Frank Capra [2]. Capra directed such classic films during the ’30s as It Happened One Night (1934), which gained Columbia Pictures its first Best Picture Academy Award. [2]

Jack Cohn: Founder [2]

Frank Capra: Director [2]

Fast-forward: 1980s-present

Columbia grew quickly following Capra’s success, earning several academy awards, becoming one of the first major studios to invest in television [2], and launching Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment. In 1982, the company established an impressive television library with Columbia TriStar Television [2]. The next year, Columbia formed TriStar Pictures with CBS and HBO [2].

In 1989 the Sony Corporation purchased Columbia Pictures Corporation, bringing Columbia into its entertainment division. [2] Since then, the company has had several major successes. They continue to dominate, but more as a film distributor and production studio for Sony’s major films [20]. The executives for Sony and Columbia Pictures provide key leadership.

 Executives

Michael Lynton - sonypictures.com [5]

Michael Lynton  [5]

Though not a direct member of the Columbia Pictures executive team, Michael Lynton is the CEO of Sony Entertainment, as well as the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. As chairman, overseeing Columbia’s operations. [5]

 

 

 

 

Doug Belgrad [6]

Doug Belgrad – sonypictures.com [6]

Since 2008, Doug Belgrad has served as the president of Columbia Pictures [6]. Since then, he has overseen some of Columbia’s most recent successes such as Captain Phillips and This is the End.

 

 

 

 

Hannah Minghella - sonypictures.com

Hannah Minghella – sonypictures.com [7]

Hannah Minghella serves as Columbia’s President of Production, having joined the company in 2005 and receiving a promotion to her current position in 2010 [7].

 

 

 

 

 

Together, Columbia’s management has guided the company through varied amounts of success [5]. Columbia works directly under Sony Picture Entertainment for its productions distribution, distribution deals, and financial ventures.

Financials

Columbia is privately traded, so current financial data is unavailable [21]. However, Box Office Mojo estimates that Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment have earned over $1 billion in gross sales this year, and controlled 11.5 percent of the market share [22]. Despite some recent successes, Columbia Pictures experienced some criticism. According to a recent Bloomberg article, Sony Corporation has hired Bain and Co. to manage $100 million in spending cuts that are meant to improve Sony Pictures Entertainment. The article attributes some of the changes to After Earth and White House Down two recent film releases by Columbia [23].

2013: Snapshot

Like many major production studios, Columbia has many projects in development at any given time, though it has worked mainly as production house and distribution company for Sony over the past few years. The following releases are projects that the company has either released in the past year or recently put into development.

White House Down: Box Office Disappointment

White House Down was one of Columbia’s major releases for the summer. This action thriller stars Channing Tatum a cop who must save his daughter and the United Stated President (played by Jamie Foxx) from an unknown terrorist group. [8]

Film picture - whitehousedown.com [9]

Film picture – [9]

According to Box Office Mojo, the film brought in over $200 million, but had a production budget of over $150 million [9]. This was surprising given that the film released during the summer and had the makings of a blockbuster. The movie had to compete with a similar film called Olympus Has Fallen starring Morgan Freeman and Gerard Butler, which might have caused a divide in film audiences over which movie to see. Columbia Pictures and Sony might be able to salvage some profit with a home entertainment release since they will most likely retain the rights, but this film seems like a missed opportunity for Columbia Pictures.

Cloudy With Chance of Meatballs 2: A Strong Success

This past fall, Columbia Pictures managed the theatrical release for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. The new film is the sequel to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a popular animated film that Columbia Pictures released in 2009 in conjunction with several other studios [11].

This second installment has been a success relative to the summer mishap of White House Down, earning almost $200 million worldwide compared to a budget of $78 million [10]. Columbia Pictures will most likely benefit from a profitable DVD release as well, bringing in more profit after the film closes in theaters.

Captain Phillips

Film Poster [17]

Film Poster [17]

One of Columbia Picture’s most recent leases is Captain Phillips the suspense thriller based on the actual hijacking of Maersk Alabama, which was captured by Somalian pirates in 2009 [12]. Tom Hanks plays the eponymous character Captain Richard Phillips, giving the film some major star power.

Film Photo

Film Photo [12]

The film has done well since its October release nearly doubling its budget of $55 million [13]. Despite critical success for the film, a recent New York Post article criticized it for portraying a false story.

The  actual crew of the film has spoken out against the portrayal of Captain Phillips, which they claim to be completely false [14]. The film does not seem to be suffering from this poor press, however. If the film receives any Oscars, it will probably have another wave of sales after its eventual DVD release.

Future Projects

RoboCop

This film is a recreation of the 1987 sci-fi film of the same name. The story follows Alex Murphy, a cop who becomes a machine-human soldier after experiencing a nearly fatal injury [16].

Film Poster [16]

Film Poster [16]

RoboCop Trailer 2013

RoboCop Trailer Photo [15]

RoboCop Trailer Photo [15]

The film has some well-known actors, but the real appeal is film’s name itself. Given the popularity of the original character and the film’s President’s Day weekend release date, RoboCop should draw huge audiences for Columbia Pictures.

New Acquisitions

Columbia Pictures has recently been listed as a production studio for some of Sony Picture Entertainment’s most recent acquisitions. One of the most notable acquisitions is Annie, for which Sony gained the film distribution rights this year [18]. The film version of the classic musical is set to release next year.

Columbia has also started developing projects based on the popular novels The Rosie Project and Tomorrow And Tomorrow [19]. Both of these projects are still in development, but will join the slate of films that Columbia is set to produce for the coming year, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and RoboCop [18].

Despite some of the financial criticism that Columbia Pictures received for some of its more recent box office disappointments, it is still one of the dominant film studios. And given some of the high-profile film’s on Columbia’s slate for the coming year, it will most likely retain its position as a major entertainment entity.

References

[1] Columbia Pictures logo

[2] Sony Pictures – History of Columbia Pictures

[3] More to be Pitied Than Scorned Film Poster

[4] Transformation of Columbia Logo

[5] Michael Lynton Profile

[6] Doug Belgrad Profile

[7] Hannah Minghella Profile

[8] White House Down Official Site

[9] White House Down Movie Data

[10] Cloudy With a Chance of Meatball 2 Movie Data

[11] Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs IMDB

[12] Captain Phillips Movie Official Website

[13] Captain Phillips Movie Data

[14] “Crew Members Deny Captain Phillips Heroism” – New York Post

[15] RoboCop Official Trailer

[16] RoboCop IMDb

[17] Captain Phillips IMDb

[18] Columbia Pictures Film Distribution List IMDb

[19] Sony Acquires The Rosie Project

[20] Columbia Profile Business Week

[21] Google Finance For Columbia Pictures

[22] Studio Market Shares

[23] Sony Corporation Divisions – Columbia TriStar

 

 

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