|Successor(s)||De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (theatrical)
Nelson Entertainment (home)
ELP Communications (television)
Avco Corporation (1967-1982)
Embassy Communications, Inc. (1982-1985)
Dino De Laurentiis Productions (1986)
Embassy Pictures Corporation (later known as Avco Embassy Pictures and later Embassy Films Associates) was an independent studio and distributor responsible for such films as The Graduate, The Lion in Winter, Carnal Knowledge, This Is Spinal Tap and Escape from New York.
The company was founded in 1942 by producer Joseph E. Levine, initially to distribute foreign films to the United States. Some of Levine's early successes were the Italian-made Hercules films with Steve Reeves and the 1961 adaptation of The Thief of Bagdad (which had virtually nothing to do with the 1940 version). Embassy also distributed Federico Fellini's film 8½ in the UK.
In 1963, Levine was offered a $30 million deal with Paramount Pictures to produce films in the vein of his previous successes. Paramount would finance the films and Embassy would receive part of its profits. Under the deal, Levine produced The Carpetbaggers and its prequel Nevada Smith, which were successes, along with flops such as Harlow, starring Carroll Baker, and The Oscar.
By the 1960s, Levine had transformed Embassy into a production company. Later in the decade, Embassy functioned on its own with many Rankin/Bass animated features (including Mad Monster Party? and The Daydreamer), and successful live-action productions including The Graduate, The Lion in Winter and The Producers.
New ownership and dissolution
In 1968, Avco Embassy launched Avco Embassy Television, which was sold to Multimedia, Inc. in 1976, becoming Multimedia Entertainment; that first television division has since been folded into what is now known as NBCUniversal Television Distribution, even though another company now owns television rights to the Embassy library.
In 1969 the company bought out Mike Nichols production company and signed him to make two movies.
The company became less successful in the 1970s and in 1973 recorded a loss of $8.1 million. In 1972 the company had begun winding back on production and by 1975 had stopped making movies. Levine resigned in mid 1974 to re-enter independent production.
Robert Rehme years
In late 1977 Avco Embassy announced its intention to resume production. In 1978, Robert Rehme was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer and he convinced the company to give him $5 million for a production fund. Under his stewardship, Avco Embassy concentrated on lower budgeted genre films, six of which were successful and became classics: The Manitou (1978), Phantasm (1979), The Fog (1980), Scanners (1981), Time Bandits (1981) and The Howling (1981). They benefited in part from the fact that American International Pictures recently left the exploitation field, lessening competition in this area. Rehme left the company in 1981, having seen it increase its revenue from $20 million to $90 million.
Norman Lear and Jerry Perenchio
In January 1982, television producer Norman Lear and his partner Jerry Perenchio bought the studio for $25 million, dropping off the name "Avco" and changed the name of their own TV company T.A.T. Communications to Embassy Television and T.A.T. Communications Company to Embassy Communications, Inc. The company was already producing such network hits as The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time, and The Facts of Life, and by Tandem, Diff'rent Strokes and Archie Bunker's Place. During this period, they launched Silver Spoons, Square Pegs, Who's the Boss?, and Gloria.
In late 1982, it set up its own home video division; Embassy Home Entertainment, prior releases from its film catalog had been handled through Magnetic Video. In 1984, Embassy Pictures was renamed to Embassy Films Associates.
Coca Cola and Others
Lear and Perenchio sold Embassy Communications (included Tandem Productions) to The Coca-Cola Company for $485 million on June 18, which also owned Columbia Pictures at the time. Coca-Cola kept Embassy's television division alive; under Coke's ownership the hit series 227 and Married... with Children began. Embassy Television was renamed Embassy Communications in 1986, then ELP (Embassy Limited Partnership) Communications in February 1988. Coca-Cola sold the theatrical division to Dino De Laurentiis, who folded the company into De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, and the home video division to another entity known as Nelson Entertainment, run by Barry Spikings. Nelson Entertainment was the American subsidiary owned by Nelson Holdings International (NHI), a company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Although De Laurentiis was now owner of Embassy, he was not given rights to then upcoming films such as Richard Attenborough's A Chorus Line, Crimewave, Saving Grace, and an adaptation of Stephen King's The Body (which became Stand by Me), which became properties of Lear and Perenchio.
Nelson Entertainment, in addition to primarily handling the Embassy library for home video, also financed theatrical films in conjunction with Columbia Pictures. They were one of the primary partners, along with Columbia, in the formation of Castle Rock Entertainment, due to the home video success of co-founder Rob Reiner's Embassy-produced films which they still handled.
In 1988, Nelson handled the physical manufacturing and distribution duties of their home video company to Orion Pictures, and some of their film productions were acquired by Orion as well. In 1991, Nelson was sold to New Line Cinema, who renamed the video division New Line Home Video and also briefly took over Nelson's stake in Castle Rock Entertainment.
By the early 1990s, key rights to the Embassy library transferred from company to company due to the bankruptcies of the companies that separately owned them (De Laurentiis for theatrical, Nelson for home video). Dino De Laurentiis's assets went to Parafrance International, in conjunction with Village Roadshow, while Nelson's assets were acquired by Credit Lyonnais Bank and later sold to PolyGram. Nelson's parent company, NHI continued to exist well into the mid-1990s.
Sony Pictures Entertainment retained the television rights to most of the Embassy theatrical library and the Embassy logo, names, and trademarks through its subsidiary ELP Communications.
Library ownership and property rights
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
Today, the Embassy corporation, its divisions and film & television holdings, are split.
The underlying rights to a majority of the Embassy library are currently held by French production company StudioCanal, with individual media rights leased to other companies.
The theatrical rights to the Embassy film library (with the few exceptions noted in the next paragraph) are managed by either Stuart Lisell Films or Rialto Pictures, depending on the individual re-issue rights. Home entertainment rights (DVD, Blu-ray) are at the hands of MGM with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment handling distribution for MGM. Other home video reissues (depending on certain titles) are owned by Image Entertainment (through The Criterion Collection), Lionsgate Home Entertainment, and Anchor Bay Entertainment, all via separate output deals.
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956)
- Hercules (1958)
- Hercules Unchained (1959)
- The Thief of Baghdad (1961)
- Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962)
- The Empty Canvas (1964)
- Zulu (1964)
- The Carpetbaggers (1964) (co-production with Paramount)
- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
- Nevada Smith (1965) (co-production with Paramount)
- Darling (1965)
- The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World (1965)
- The Oscar (1966)
- John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums (1966)
- Where the Bullets Fly (1966)
- Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)
- Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)
- Robbery (1967)
- Mad Monster Party? (1967)
- The Graduate (1967)
- Woman Times Seven (1967)
- The Producers (1968)
- The Lion in Winter (1968)
- The Thirteen Chairs (1969)
- Carnal Knowledge (1971)
- The Ruling Class (1972, US distribution only)
- The Summertime Killer(1972)
- Night Watch (1973)
- A Touch of Class (1973) (a Brut production)
- The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
- The Tamarind Seed (1974, produced by ITC Entertainment and Lorimar Productions)
- Farewell, My Lovely (1975, produced by ITC Entertainment)
- Deadly Hero (1976)
- Voyage of the Damned (1976) (an ITC production)
- The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976)
- The Chicken Chronicles (1977, debut of Steve Guttenberg)
- Cross of Iron (1977, co-production with EMI Films and ITC Entertainment)
- Watership Down (1978)
- The Manitou (1978)
- Phantasm (1979)
- Fish Hawk (1979)
- The Onion Field (1979)
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979) (non-U.S. distribution only)
- The Fog (1980)
- Prom Night (1980) (a negative pickup from SimCom)
- The Exterminator (1980)
- Final Exam (1981) (home video release only)
- Scanners (1981)
- Take This Job and Shove It (1981)
- The Howling (1981)
- Delusion (1981) (Aka The House Where Death Lives)
- Escape From New York (1981)
- Time Bandits (1981, distribution only, produced by Handmade Films)
- Carbon Copy (1981)
- An Eye for an Eye (1981)
- Paradise (1982)
- Savannah Smiles (1982)
- The Soldier (1982)
- Swamp Thing (1982)
- Zapped! (1982)
- Fanny and Alexander (1983, US distribution only)
- Losin' It (1983)
- Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)
- This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
- The Bear (1984)
- The Sure Thing (1985)
- Crimewave (1985)
- A Chorus Line (1985, co-produced with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and distributed by Columbia Pictures)
- The Emerald Forest (1985)
- Saving Grace (1985)
- Dick, p.79
- Dick, p. 80-81
- Perenchio Lear to Purchase Avco Embassy Pictures: EMBASSY: Sale May Be $25 Million Harris, Kathryn. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Nov 1981: e1.
- Avco to Buy Embassy Pictures From Levine For $40 Million of Common, Preferred Stock By STANLEY PENN Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 May 1968: 8.
- Mergers Set in Show Business: Avco Buys Nichols Unit MERGERS SHAPED IN SHOW BUSINESS By LEONARD SLOANE. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Mar 1969: 61.
- Avco Apparently Will Produce Movies After 5-Year Hiatus: Concern Would Likely Work With Others Instead of Making Films on Its Own Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Dec 1977: 10.
- Levine, Producer, Quits as President Of Avco Embassy: Amicable Resignation By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 May 1974: 33.
- 'Avco's Way to Lick the Movie Giants of Hollywood', New Straits Times, 6 Dec1981 p 8
- ROBERT REHME, KING OF THE LOW-BUDGET SHOCKERAljean Harmetz, 'Robert Rehme, King of the Low Budget Shocker', New York Times, 30 Nov 1981 Section C p13
- "Norman Lear" Coke Buys Embassy & Tandem normanlear.com Michael Schrage The Washington Post, Retrieved on January 25, 2013
- "Norman Lear" Lear, Perenchio Sell Embassy Properties normanlear.com AL DELUGACH and KATHRYN HARRIS, The Los Angeles Times, Retrieved on January 25, 2013
- "Norman Lear" Coke buys Embassy: 485 million. normanlear.com CHRISTOPHER VAUGHN and BILL DESOWITZ The Hollywood Reporter, Retrieved on January 25, 2013
- De Laurentiis to Market Own Films By ALJEAN HARMETZ Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Oct 1985: C3.
- DE LAURENTIIS' EPIC PLAN FOR EMBASSY: FILM CLIPS FILM CLIPS Mathews, Jack. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Oct 1985: h1.
- "Justia Trademarks"EMBASSY PICTURES - Trademark Details trademarks.justia.com, Retrieved on October 14, 2012
- Embassy Pictures to Film Life of British Explorer New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Mar 1964: 13.
- LEVINE SETS PLANS FOR 15 NEW MOVIES Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 July 1964: 16.