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Castle Rock Entertainment

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Castle Rock Entertainment
Company typeSubsidiary
FoundedJune 19, 1987; 37 years ago (1987-06-19)
ProductsMotion pictures
ServicesFilm production

Castle Rock Entertainment is an American independent film and television production company founded in 1987[2] by Martin Shafer, director Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, Glenn Padnick and Alan Horn. It is a label of Warner Bros. Entertainment, itself a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Discovery.



Rob Reiner named the company in honor of the fictional Maine town of the same name that serves as the setting of several stories by author Stephen King, which in itself is named after the fictional mountain fort in William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies.[3][4] The logo consists of a lighthouse.

Reiner and Scheinman already had a production company. They were friends with Shafer, who worked with Horn at 20th Century Fox at the time. Horn was disappointed at Fox and agreed to join the trio in forming the company. Horn brought along Padnick, who was an executive at Embassy Television. In Castle Rock, Horn became the CEO, Shafer ran the film division, Padnick ran television, and Reiner and Scheinman became involved in the development of productions.[4]

The company was originally backed by The Coca-Cola Company, then the parent company of Columbia Pictures. Coca-Cola and Castle Rock's founders jointly owned stakes in the company.[5][6] Months after the deal, Coca-Cola exited the entertainment business, and was succeeded by Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc.

The then-new company, originally called Castle Rock Productions, is targeted to a minimum of 15 features over a 5-year period at a 3-picture a year pace, with support from then-Columbia Pictures CEO David Puttnam, following the box office success of the film Stand by Me, which was produced by Act III Communications (controlled by Reiner's colleague Norman Lear; the film had been in production at Embassy when Lear sold Embassy to Columbia and Lear subsequently paid for production to continue).[7]

Shortly after formation, Castle Rock appointed Nelson Entertainment, the company that owned the domestic home video rights to Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, and The Princess Bride, to join a five-year, eighteen-picture joint venture; this was in addition to a pre-existing pact between Nelson and Columbia Pictures for a 3-year, 12-feature deal, in which Columbia Pictures would serve as the co-financing entity; Castle Rock would produce fourteen films, while Nelson produced four films themselves.[8]

Under the deal, Nelson also distributed the films on video in North American markets, and handled international theatrical distribution, while Columbia Pictures, which Nelson forged a distribution deal with, would receive domestic theatrical distribution rights. Some of Nelson's holdings were later acquired by New Line Cinema, which took over Nelson's duty. Columbia Pictures, shortly after the company's formation, thereafter had to re-invest with a substantial change in terms when accumulated losses exhausted its initial funding.

Reiner has stated that Castle Rock's purpose was to allow creative freedom to individuals; a haven away from the pressures of studio executives. Castle Rock was to make films of the highest quality, whether they made or lost money.[4] In 1989, Castle Rock was supported by another backer, Group W, a subsidiary of Westinghouse.[9]

Castle Rock has also produced several television series, most notably the sitcom Seinfeld.[10]

Turner purchase and WarnerMedia ownership[edit]

In August 1993, Turner Broadcasting System agreed to acquire Castle Rock Entertainment, along with co-financing partner (and eventual Castle Rock Entertainment corporate sibling) New Line Cinema. The sale was completed on December 22, 1993.[11][12] The motivation behind the purchase was to allow a stronger company to handle the overhead.[4]

By 1994, Castle Rock Entertainment launched a foreign sales operation, Castle Rock International, and planned to produce 12 to 15 films annually.[13] Castle Rock Entertainment also had aspirations to distribute its own films once its deal with Columbia Pictures expired in 1998.[13][14] It was long rumored that Castle Rock Entertainment's film projects could go to New Line Cinema when the deal expired.[15]

Turner Broadcasting System merged with Time Warner Entertainment in 1996. After a failed attempt to divest the company, Time Warner Entertainment integrated Castle Rock Entertainment into Warner Bros., and cut its production slate to five films per year.[14] On June 27, 1997, Castle Rock Entertainment's staff was reduced to 60 employees and Castle Rock International was folded into Warner Bros.[16]

In January 1998, Warner Bros. and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment formed a deal to co-finance and co-distribute Castle Rock Entertainment films; that deal was taken over by Universal Pictures after the studio's parent company Seagram merged with PolyGram later that year. The Warner Bros./Universal deal expired in 2000.[17] On June 19, 2000, after the expiration of the Universal deal, Spanish player Telefónica Media took over its take in the Castle Rock production company. Castle Rock Entertainment also set up projects with Village Roadshow Pictures and Bel-Air Entertainment, two of Warner Bros.' key production affiliates.[18]

On July 20, 1998, Castle Rock Television took over production of The WB's midseason show Movie Stars, which was set to be in development at Studios USA.[19] In 2001, Castle Rock Television had set up Mission Hill writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein with an overall deal, producing several projects, like an unsold family concept pitch at ABC.[20]

In April 2002, Warner Bros. reduced Castle Rock Entertainment's budget following a string of box office bombs. Castle Rock Entertainment fired 16 of its 46 employees, and Castle Rock Entertainment's physical production and public relations departments, back-office duties, and remaining employees were absorbed into Warner Bros.[21]


In May 2020, Rob and Michelle Reiner signed a deal with Warner Bros. Television Studios, and on October 1 of that year, it relaunched the company.[22] On October 19, 2021, the feature division company was revived with a $175 million film fund under which the studio will develop, produce and finance new films for global audiences. Reiner will continue as Castle Rock CEO, with Michele Reiner and Matthew George serving as co-presidents. Castle Rock will produce films in a first-look deal with Warner Bros. on theatrical content, which has long been its home, in addition to their existing deal with Castle Rock television productions.[23] In April 2022, Jonathan Fuhrman joined Castle Rock Entertainment as EVP and Head of Business Affairs. He will report to Rob and Michelle Reiner and Matthew George.[24]

Following an additional $170 million investment from Derrick Rossi, Reiner announced his intention to relaunch Castle Rock through two films, one a sequel to his This Is Spinal Tap mockumentary, and the other Albert Brooks: Defending My Life documentary, shopping both films at the 2022 Cannes festival.[25]

Ownership of the Castle Rock library[edit]

Castle Rock Entertainment Television
FateFolded into Warner Bros. Television
SuccessorWarner Bros. Television

Warner Bros. owns the copyrights and overall rights to most of the pre-2010 Castle Rock films and television shows, with a few notable exceptions. Amazon's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) owns the worldwide home video rights (under licensed and currently distributed in physical home media by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment through Studio Distribution Services since July 1, 2020) to most of the pre-1994 films by virtue of the purchase of the pre-April 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/Epic Productions library via Orion Pictures (which had included, in part, the Nelson Entertainment holdings) in 1999.[26][27][28][29] Sony Pictures owns the distribution rights to A Few Good Men, In the Line of Fire, and North, whereas its television division owns the distribution rights to Seinfeld.



  1. ^ Bloomberg LLC company profile for Castle Rock Entertainment (Retrieved on 29 August 2020 from Bloomberg LLC company profile website)
  2. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (7 August 1993). "COMPANY NEWS; Turner Move To Purchase Movie Studio". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  3. ^ George W. Beahm (1992). The Stephen King story. Internet Archive. Andrews & McMeel. ISBN 978-0-8362-8004-3.
  4. ^ a b c d Herman, Karen (November 29, 2004). "Interview with Rob Reiner". Archive of American Television. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  5. ^ Turner, Melissa (14 October 1987). "Coca-Cola division invests in film production company". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. p. 20 – via newsbank.com.
  6. ^ "Coke Invests In a Film Deal". The New York Times. 13 October 1987. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Castle Rock Prods. Formed To Release Films Through Col". Variety. 1987-08-19. pp. 4, 22.
  8. ^ "Castle Rock Entertainment Ready For Launch With $270-Mil Purse". Variety. 1987-11-04. p. 25.
  9. ^ "GROUP W TO INVEST IN CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT". Daily News of Los Angeles. MediaStream Inc. Knight-Ridder Inc. November 14, 1989 – via newsbank.com.
  10. ^ Sterngold, James (1998-01-27). "'Seinfeld' Producers Wonder, Now What?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-10-19.
  11. ^ "Turner Broadcasting Company Report". Securities and Exchange Commission. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Done deal: Turner Broadcasting System Inc. said it closed..." Chicago Tribune. December 25, 1993. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  13. ^ a b Cox, Dan (February 4, 1994). "Castle Rock gets intl". Variety.
  14. ^ a b Cox, Dan (December 7, 1997). "Castle Rock near split-rights deal". Variety.
  15. ^ Cox, Dan (1995-10-02). "STUDIO ON STEROIDS". Variety. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  16. ^ Cox, Dan (June 9, 1997). "Time Warner takes toll: Castle Rock staff halved". Variety.
  17. ^ Harris, Dana (June 19, 2000). "Telco at Castle door". Variety.
  18. ^ Harris, Dana (2000-06-19). "Telco at Castle door". Variety. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  19. ^ Hontz, Jenny (1998-07-20). "WB sitcom 'Stars' shifts to Castle Rock". Variety. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  20. ^ Adalian, Josef; Schneider, Michael (2001-11-02). "Family foibles for ABC". Variety. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  21. ^ Harris, Dana (April 30, 2002). "Castle Rock cuts 16 as WB clamps down on coin". Variety.
  22. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2020-10-01). "Rob & Michele Reiner Relaunch Castle Rock Banner With Overall Deal At Warner Bros TV". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2021-10-19). "Castle Rock Entertainment Relaunches With $175M Film Fund". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-11-07.
  24. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (2022-04-25). "Jonathan Fuhrman Joins Rob Reiner's Castle Rock Entertainment". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  25. ^ "Rob Reiner on Re-Launching Castle Rock with 'Spinal Tap' Sequel and Shooting Documentary on Pal Albert Brooks: Cannes". 18 May 2022.
  26. ^ Eller, Claudia (October 23, 1998). "MGM Agrees to Acquire PolyGram Movie Library". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ Frankel, Daniel (October 22, 1998). "MGM Acquires Lion's Share of PolyGram". E! News. EOnline. NBCUniversal. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  28. ^ Bloomberg News (October 23, 1998). "COMPANY NEWS; MGM SAYS IT WILL BUY POLYGRAM'S MOVIE LIBRARY". The New York Times. p. 3.
  29. ^ "Warner Bros., PolyGram Near Financing Deal". Los Angeles Times. December 6, 1997. Retrieved 2 March 2019.