Embassy Pictures

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Embassy Pictures
Industry Film studio
Fate Sold
Successor De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (theatrical)
Nelson Entertainment (home)
ELP Communications (television)
Founded 1942
Defunct 1986
Products Motion pictures
Parent Independent (1942-1967)
Avco Corporation (1967-1982)
Embassy Communications, Inc. (1982-1985)
The Coca-Cola Company (1985-1986)
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, The Fog, and Escape from New York.

Founding[edit]

The company was founded in 1942 [1] by Joseph E. Levine, initially to distribute foreign films in the United States.

Some of Levine's early successes were the Italian-made Hercules films with Steve Reeves, Ishiro Honda's Godzilla, King of the Monsters, 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 and Rick Carrier's Strangers in the City (1962).

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.[2] 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[edit]

In 1967, Embassy enjoyed its greatest success with The Graduate. This enabled Levine to sell his company to Avco for a deal worth $40 million.[3][4] Levine stayed on as chief executive.

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.[5]

The company became less successful in the 1970s and in 1973 recorded a loss of $8.1 million.

In 1972 the company had begun cutting back on production and by 1975 had stopped making movies altogether.[6] Levine resigned in mid 1974 to re-enter independent production.[7]

Robert Rehme years[edit]

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.[8][9]

In 1981 Tom Laughlin offered to buy the company for $24 million but withdrew his offer.[3]

Norman Lear and Jerry Perenchio[edit]

In January 1982, television producer Norman Lear and his partner Jerry Perenchio bought the studio for $25 million,[8] 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.

Embassy Television logo, used from 1982-1984

Coca-Cola and others[edit]

Lear and Perenchio sold Embassy Communications (including Tandem Productions) to The Coca-Cola Company for $485 million on June 18, 1985,[10][11][12]

Coca-Cola kept Embassy's television division alive; under their 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, which also owned Columbia Pictures at the time, sold the theatrical division to Dino De Laurentiis, who folded the company into De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, and the home video division became Nelson Entertainment on August 15, 1987, run by Barry Spikings, along with some executives who had previously worked at DEG before it went bankrupt. Nelson Entertainment was the American subsidiary of 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.[13][14] 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 gave 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.

1990s[edit]

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.

Library ownership and property rights[edit]

Today, the Embassy corporation, its divisions and film and 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 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 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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. 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.[15]

Films[edit]

Release Date Title Notes
July 22, 1959 Hercules
July 13, 1960 Hercules Unchained
May 28, 1961 David and Goliath
August 10, 1961 The Thief of Baghdad
October 9, 1962 Long Day's Journey Into Night
January 22, 1964 Zulu co-production with Paramount Pictures
March 10, 1964 The Empty Canvas co-production with Paramount Pictures
April 9, 1964 The Carpetbaggers co-production with Paramount Pictures
November 14, 1964 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
December 18, 1964 Contempt
June 30, 1965 Requiem for a Gunfighter
July 31, 1965 The Bounty Killer
August 3, 1965 Darling
October 20, 1965 Village of the Giants
October 1965 Git!
November 5, 1965 Country Music on Broadway
November 17, 1965 The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World
March 4, 1966 The Oscar
April 10, 1966 Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter
April 10, 1966 John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums
April 14, 1966 Billy the Kid Versus Dracula
June 1966 The Cat
June 1, 1966 The Daydreamer
June 10, 1966 Nevada Smith co-production with Paramount Pictures
August 3, 1966 A Man Called Adam
November 2, 1966 Picture Mommy Dead
March 8, 1967 Mad Monster Party?
May 24, 1967 The Caper of the Golden Bulls
June 27, 1967 Woman Times Seven
September 6, 1967 Where the Bullets Fly
September 27, 1967 Robbery
October 25, 1967 Way Out
December 2, 1967 The Wacky World of Mother Goose
December 21, 1967 The Graduate
March 18, 1968 The Producers
October 30, 1968 The Lion in Winter
July 30, 1969 Stiletto
November 11, 1969 Don't Drink the Water
December 15, 1969 Generation
March 25, 1970 The Adventurers co-production with Paramount Pictures
May 1, 1970 The Thirteen Chairs
August 12, 1970 Soldier Blue
August 17, 1970 Macho Callahan
August 26, 1970 The People Next Door
October 14, 1970 C.C. and Company
January 21, 1971 Promise at Dawn
February 8, 1971 Hot Pants Holiday
February 17, 1971 The Man Who Had Power Over Women
February 28, 1971 The Sporting Club
March 3, 1971 The Man Who Had Power Over Women
June 30, 1971 Carnal Knowledge
September 15, 1971 The Steagle
December 1, 1971 The Ski Bum
1972 Wacky Taxi
April 1, 1972 J.C.
June 15, 1972 A Place Called Today
August 23, 1972 Rivals
September 13, 1972 The Ruling Class
October 1972 Thumb Tripping
November 1972 The Stoolie
February 1973 Jory
April 11, 1973 Book of Numbers
June 15, 1973 Interval
June 20, 1973 A Touch of Class
August 10, 1973 Night Watch
October 23, 1973 The Summertime Killer
November 14, 1973 Hurry Up, or I'll Be 30
December 19, 1973 The Day of the Dolphin
July 20, 1974 Lucky Luciano
September 20, 1974 Homebodies
November 7, 1974 The Tamarind Seed produced by ITC Entertainment and Lorimar Productions
December 5, 1974 The Photographer
April 30, 1975 Tubby the Tuba
August 8, 1975 Farewell, My Lovely produced by ITC Entertainment
October 22, 1975 Diamonds
November 1975 Petersen
December 1975 Psychic Killer
January 1976 The Four Deuces
February 15, 1976 Deadly Hero
March 5, 1976 Man Friday
April 11, 1976 The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
May 19, 1976 The Premonition
May 28, 1976 Shoot
October 27, 1976 Bittersweet Love
November 1976 Pipe Dreams
December 22, 1976 Voyage of the Damned produced by ITC Entertainment
January 1977 False Face
February 9, 1977 The Cassandra Crossing produced by ITC Entertainment
March 23, 1977 The Domino Principle co-production with ITC Entertainment
May 7, 1977 Cross of Iron co-production with EMI Films and ITC Entertainment
August 4, 1977 The Great Gundown
August 1977 Sidewinder 1
October 1977 The Chicken Chronicles
April 9, 1978 Rabbit Test
April 28, 1978 The Manitou
May 10, 1978 A Different Story
June 14, 1978 Go Tell the Spartans
August 1978 Stingray
October 1978 Born Again
November 1, 1978 Watership Down
March 21, 1979 The Bell Jar
March 28, 1979 Phantasm
April 13, 1979 Old Boyfriends
May 11, 1979 Winter Kills
June 15, 1979 Goldengirl
August 31, 1979 City on Fire
September 19, 1979 The Onion Field
September 28, 1979 A Man, a Woman, and a Bank
January 25, 1980 Fish Hawk
February 1, 1980 The Fog
March 7, 1980 The Black Marble
March 7, 1980 Death Ship
April 1, 1980 The Baltimore Bullet
April 11, 1980 Night Games
June 1, 1980 Hog Wild
August 15, 1980 Prom Night
September 10, 1980 The Exterminator
September 26, 1980 Hopscotch
January 14, 1981 Scanners
January 23, 1981 Delusion
April 10, 1981 The Howling
April 24, 1981 Take This Job and Shove It
March 6, 1981 Dirty Tricks
May 29, 1981 The Night the Lights went out in Georgia
May 29, 1981 Dead & Buried
June 5, 1981 Final Exam
July 10, 1981 Escape From New York
August 14, 1981 An Eye for an Eye
September 25, 1981 Carbon Copy
October 1981 Tulips
November 6, 1981 Time Bandits distribution only, produced by Handmade Films
January 22, 1982 Vice Squad
January 29, 1982 The Seduction
February 19, 1982 Swamp Thing
March 12, 1982 Parasite
May 7, 1982 Paradise
June 15, 1982 The Soldier
July 23, 1982 The Challenge distribution only, produced by CBS Theatrical Films
July 23, 1982 Zapped!
July 30, 1982 Hysterical
December 10, 1982 Savannah Smiles
April 8, 1983 Losin' It
April 20, 1983 Champions
June 17, 1983 Fanny and Alexander
July 8, 1983 Deadly Force
August 5, 1983 Get Crazy
September 23, 1983 Eddie and the Cruisers
March 2, 1984 This Is Spinal Tap
September 28, 1984 The Bear
March 1, 1985 The Sure Thing
July 3, 1985 The Emerald Forest
December 13, 1985 A Chorus Line co-produced with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and distributed by Columbia Pictures
January 31, 1986 The Goodbye People
April 25, 1986 Crimewave co-produced with Renaissance Pictures and distributed by Columbia Pictures
May 2, 1986 Saving Grace distributed by Columbia Pictures

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dick, p.79
  2. ^ Dick, p. 80-81
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b 'Avco's Way to Lick the Movie Giants of Hollywood', New Straits Times, 6 Dec1981 p 8
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ "Norman Lear" Coke Buys Embassy & Tandem normanlear.com Michael Schrage The Washington Post, Retrieved on January 25, 2013.
  11. ^ "Norman Lear" Lear, Perenchio Sell Embassy Properties normanlear.com AL DELUGACH and KATHRYN HARRIS, The Los Angeles Times, Retrieved on January 25, 2013
  12. ^ "Norman Lear" Coke buys Embassy: 485 million. normanlear.com CHRISTOPHER VAUGHN and BILL DESOWITZ The Hollywood Reporter, Retrieved on January 25, 2013
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Justia Trademarks"EMBASSY PICTURES - Trademark Details trademarks.justia.com, Retrieved on October 14, 2012

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]