United International Pictures

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United International Pictures
Joint venture
PredecessorCinema International Corporation
CIC Video
FoundersArthur Abeles
Lew Wasserman
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
ProductsMotion pictures

United International Pictures is a joint venture of Paramount Pictures (owned by Viacom) and Universal Pictures (part of NBCUniversal) which distributes some of their films outside the United States and Canada. UIP also had international distribution rights to certain Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists films when MGM was part of the venture. In 2001, MGM left UIP,[1] and signed a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox's overseas arm.

The company formerly distributed DreamWorks releases internationally as well.


Cinema International Corporation[edit]

Paramount's early history with MCA dates back to the 1950s, when part of its talent pool worked for Paramount Pictures, notably Alfred Hitchcock. In 1958, MCA purchased the pre-1950 Paramount sound feature film library. In 1962, MCA purchased Universal Studios. In 1966, Gulf+Western purchased Paramount.

In a cost-cutting move, in 1970, as a result of American anti-trust laws, and due to declining movie-going audiences, both Paramount and Universal agreed to merge their international operations into a new company: Cinema International Corporation, registered in England and Wales. It even operated in Canada and the Caribbean until the late 70s, when those territories were considered part of the "domestic" North American market.

In 1973, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer closed down its distribution offices and became a partner in CIC, which took over international distribution for MGM's films; however, United Artists took over the US, Canadian and Caribbean distribution for MGM's films that time. CIC also entered the home video market by forming CIC Video, which distributed Paramount and Universal titles on video worldwide. MGM however, had its own video unit, which later became a joint venture with CBS as MGM/CBS Home Video (later known as MGM/UA Home Video, which was later renamed to MGM Home Entertainment).

United International Pictures[edit]

In 1981, MGM merged with United Artists, which had its own international distribution unit. CIC refused to let MGM drop out of the venture at the time, but let them merge UA's overseas arm into CIC, which led to the reorganization of the company as United International Pictures. MGM eventually left the venture in 2001, when it moved its international distribution to 20th Century Fox. The last MGM film to be released through UIP was Hannibal.

In 1986, Ted Turner purchased MGM/UA, but later resold the company except for its film library, which included the pre-May 1986 MGM film and television library and the pre-1950 Warner Bros. film library (which the latter was sold to Associated Artists Productions in 1956, and got acquired by United Artists in 1958). After that library was acquired by Turner, UIP (through MGM/UA) signed a deal to continue distributing the pre-May 1986 MGM and pre-1950 Warner Bros. film libraries for theatrical release.

CIC's name lived on in its video division, which became directly managed as a joint venture of Paramount Home Video and MCA Videocassette, Inc. (later MCA Home Video and MCA/Universal Home Video). CIC Video survived until 1999, when Universal purchased PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and reorganized its video division (which was a joint venture with what is now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and remains so to this day) under the Universal name, while Paramount took over full ownership of CIC Video and merged it under its own video division.

UIP also had a subscription television arm, UIP Pay TV, which distributed Paramount, MGM/UA, and Universal releases to pay TV broadcasters outside the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Anglophone Caribbean. UIP Pay TV was broken up in 1997 after a 4-year investigation by the European Union, as it accused UIP as a cartel-like organisation. The pay TV rights for the films were eventually transferred to Paramount International Television (later renamed CBS Paramount International Television and currently known as CBS Studios International; today, the Paramount films are distributed by Trifecta Entertainment & Media), Universal Worldwide Television (currently known as NBCUniversal International Television Distribution) and MGM Worldwide Television.

2007 reorganization[edit]

Starting in 2007, United International Pictures considerably reduced its international operations. At least 15 "key countries" are now directly managed separately by Universal Pictures, taking over operations in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland[1] and Paramount Pictures, taking over operations in Australia, Brazil, France, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and the United Kingdom.[1]

As Universal Pictures takes over South Korean operations, CJ Entertainment has become the new South Korean distributor K1.

Though their Japanese operations were initially planned to be kept intact, United International Pictures withdrew from the Japanese market in late 2007;[2] and as a result, Paramount Pictures started taking their Japanese distribution operations in-house until January 31, 2016 when they formed distribution alliances with TOWA PICTURES Company, Ltd. for Japanese theatrical distribution of their films starting with The Big Short on March 4, 2016,[3] and Universal Pictures Japan also formed distribution alliances with TOHO-TOWA Company, Limited for theatrical distribution[4] and Geneon Entertainment (now NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan) for home entertainment distribution.[5]

In 2002, United International Pictures withdrew from the Finnish market. As a result, their releases in that country later started being handled by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, then in 2006, distribution passed on to national cinema operator Finnkino.

Past organization[edit]

The company is based in London, United Kingdom, though their operations in that country are currently[when?] being taken over by Paramount Pictures. However, as of 2010, they continue to directly distribute films in 19 countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines (through Sony Pictures International since June 2014), Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. In addition, the company has distribution agreements with locally owned distribution companies in a further 43 countries.[6] One such example is Bontonfilm in the Czech Republic, who previously distributed material from CIC & UIP in both the Czech and the Slovak markets.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures to begin self-distribution of films in 15 key countries beginning in January 2007". IndependentFilm.com. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Foreign film distributor closing down | The Japan Times Online". Search.japantimes.co.jp. 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  3. ^ Variety Asia Online Archived August 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Show Biz Japan!#7 - JETRO USA - Japan External Trade Organization". Jetro.org. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  5. ^ "Geneon to Merge with Universal Pictures Japan - News". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  6. ^ UIP website: Who We Are Retrieved 2012-09-10

External links[edit]