|Successor||De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (theatrical)
Nelson Entertainment (home video)
ELP Communications (television)
|Headquarters||1901 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles, California
Avco Corporation (1967–1982)
Embassy Communications, Inc. (1982–1985)
The Coca-Cola Company (1985–1986)
Dino De Laurentiis Productions (1986)
Embassy Pictures Corporation (also and later known as AVCO Embassy Pictures as well as Embassy Films Associates) was an American independent film production and distribution studio responsible for such films as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, The Graduate, The Lion in Winter, Carnal Knowledge, The Night Porter, Phantasm, The Fog, Prom Night, Scanners, The Howling, Escape from New York, and This Is Spinal Tap.
The company was founded in 1942 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, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956, a much re-edited version of Ishirō Honda's original Godzilla from 1954), and the adaptation of The Thief of Baghdad (1961), also with Reeves in the lead. Embassy also distributed Federico Fellini's film 8½ (1963) 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. Under the deal, Levine produced The Carpetbaggers (1964) and its prequel Nevada Smith (1966), which were successes, along with flops such as Harlow (1965), starring Carroll Baker, and The Oscar (1966).
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 The Daydreamer (1966) and Mad Monster Party? (1967), and successful live-action productions including The Graduate (1967), The Lion in Winter and The Producers (both 1968).
New ownership and dissolution
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. Levine stayed on as chief executive. In 1969, the company bought out Mike Nichols production company and signed him to make two movies.
In 1968, Avco Embassy launched Avco Embassy Television, to syndicate films from the Avco Embassy library on TV. In 1976, Avco Embassy sold their broadcasting division and Avco Program Sales to Multimedia, Inc., becoming Multimedia Entertainment; Multimedia Entertainment is now known as NBCUniversal Television Distribution,
The company became less successful in the 1970s and in 1973 recorded a loss of $8.1 million.
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: 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.
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 producing such 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, Embassy bought out Andre Blay Corporation and renamed the company to Embassy Home Entertainment; prior releases from its film catalog had been handled through Magnetic Video, as well as reissues of the Blay Video catalog. In 1984, Embassy Pictures was renamed to Embassy Films Associates.
Coca-Cola and others
Coca-Cola kept Embassy's television division active; 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, Canada. Although De Laurentiis was now owner of Embassy, he was not given rights to then upcoming films such as Crimewave and Saving Grace (both 1986), and an adaptation of Stephen King's The Body, which became Stand by Me (1986), 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 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.
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
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 were previously managed by Stuart Lisell Films, and are now serviced by Rialto Pictures.
Home entertainment rights (DVD, Blu-ray) were previously divided among Image Entertainment, The Criterion Collection), and Anchor Bay Entertainment, via separate output deals. Currently, the majority of the best-known Embassy titles are controlled by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer due to previous VHS or DVD releases through their inheritance of PolyGram's film library, with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment handling distribution for MGM. Any other remaining titles are handled by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, due their longtime relationship with StudioCanal over their Carolco library.
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.
|April 27, 1956||Godzilla, King of the Monsters!||1956 re-cut of Godzilla, originally produced and released by Toho in 1954.|
|July 22, 1959||Hercules||distributed by Warner Bros.|
|February 17, 1960||Jack the Ripper||distributed by Paramount Pictures|
|July 13, 1960||Hercules Unchained||distributed by Warner Bros.|
|May 28, 1961||David and Goliath|
|August 10, 1961||The Thief of Baghdad||Co-production with Titanus and Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France, distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer|
|November 17, 1961||Morgan, the Pirate||Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer|
|December 13, 1961||The Wonders of Aladdin||Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer|
|October 9, 1962||Long Day's Journey Into Night|
|January 23, 1963||The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah||distributed by 20th Century Fox|
|January 22, 1964||Zulu||co-production with Paramount Pictures,only USA distribuition|
|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|
|November 5, 1965||Country Music on Broadway|
|November 17, 1965||The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World|
|1966||Jack Frost||US distribution only; produced by Gorky Film Studio|
|March 4, 1966||The Oscar||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|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||co-production with Rankin/Bass Productions|
|June 10, 1966||Nevada Smith||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|August 3, 1966||A Man Called Adam|
|August 10, 1966||The Idol||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|November 2, 1966||Picture Mommy Dead|
|March 8, 1967||Mad Monster Party?||co-production with Rankin/Bass Productions|
|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||co-production with Rankin/Bass Productions|
|December 21, 1967||The Graduate||North American distribution only; United Artists held International distribution.|
|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|
|June 30, 1971||Carnal Knowledge|
|September 15, 1971||The Steagle|
|December 1, 1971||The Ski Bum|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|October 1978||Born Again|
|November 1, 1978||Watership Down||US theatrical distribution only|
|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|
|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|
- 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 25 Nov 1981: e1.
- "Avco to Buy Embassy Pictures From Levine For $40 Million of Common, Preferred Stock" by STANLEY PENN Staff Reporter. Wall Street Journal 06 May 1968: 8.
- "Mergers Set in Show Business: Avco Buys Nichols Unit MERGERS SHAPED IN SHOW BUSINESS" by LEONARD SLOANE. New York Times 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 6 Dec 1977: 10.
- "Levine, Producer, Quits as President Of Avco Embassy: Amicable Resignation" by A. H. WEILER. New York Times 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, 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 4 Oct 1985: C3.
- "DE LAURENTIIS' EPIC PLAN FOR EMBASSY: FILM CLIPS FILM CLIPS" Mathews, Jack. Los Angeles Times 9 Oct 1985: h1.
- "Justia Trademarks"EMBASSY PICTURES - Trademark Details trademarks.justia.com, Retrieved on October 14, 2012
- Dick, Bernard F. "Engulfed: the death of Paramount Pictures and the birth of corporate Hollywood." The University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky (2001). ISBN 0-8131-2202-3.