CBS Theatrical Films

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CBS Theatrical Films
Industry movie
Fate closed
Predecessor Cinema Center Films
Successor CBS Films
Founded 1979
Defunct November 1985
Headquarters United States
Area served
Products films
Parent CBS

CBS Theatrical Films was the film production branch of the U.S. television network, CBS, which was active from 1979 to 1985.

CBS was also a partner in TriStar Pictures, which started as a joint venture with Columbia Pictures (owned then by The Coca-Cola Company), and Time, Inc.'s HBO.[1] CBS was a owner in Tristar from the start in 1982 to 1984.[2]


CBS began its theatrical films operation in 1979, headed by Donald March, and turned the operation into the separate CBS Theatrical Films division in 1980.[3] The company had gone through four presidents (March, Michael Levy, Bill Self, and Alan Levin).[citation needed] Before 1985, Self was president of production.[4] None of its releases were commercial successes.[5]


Several factors contributed to the closure of CBS Theatrical Films. As a so-called boutique, it was disadvantaged because it was usually only offered left over films after the major studios had selected the more likely commercial successes. Television movies did better in the ratings than theater films already released via cable and video. With additional startup boutiques, the market was overcrowded causing box office strain at the same time movie production costs doubled to $10 million with marketing matching that level. Another factor was that as a boutique, CBS Theatrical Films did not have a distribution system, so had to release its films through major studios, which sometimes resulted in disadvantageous release dates.[5] CBS announced CBS Theatrical Films's closure in November 1985.[5] The Challenge and their final production The Lightship were released through Embassy Pictures and Castle Hill Productions respectively. Today most of the movies made by the company are distributed by Paramount Pictures on DVD, as Paramount Pictures has a home video distribution deal with CBS.[citation needed]

Films produced[edit]

Release Date[citation needed] Title[5]
March 13, 1981 Back Roads
July 23, 1982 The Challenge
February 18, 1983 Table for Five
May 18, 1984 Finders Keepers
August 3, 1984 Grandview, U.S.A.
September 21, 1984 Windy City
October 26, 1984 American Dreamer
August 23, 1985 Better Off Dead
November 1, 1985 Eleni
November 8, 1985 Target
September 26, 1986 The Lightship

Cancelled film[edit]

Starblasters was to be a video game-themed movie, due to be released about Christmas time 1982, at least some of the film was to be computer-animated. It would have been the second video game-themed movie after Tron which was released in July of that year.[6]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Lumenick, Lou (May 16, 2009). "CBS And Theatrical Films: If At First You Don't Succeed...". NY Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "CBS turns theatrical films operations into division". The Wall Street Journal. 1980-12-02. 
  4. ^ Barnes, Mike (November 18, 2010). "Former Producer, Fox TV Exec William Self Dies". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d Harmetz, Aljean (November 23, 1985). "Abc, Cbs Drop Movie Interests". Orlando Sentinel. 
  6. ^ Bloom, Steve (1982). Video Invaders. Arco Publishing, Inc. p. 132. ISBN 0-668-05518-9.