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|Industry||Home video company|
|Fate||Acquired by Live Entertainment|
|Successor||Live Home Video (later Artisan Entertainment, now part of Lionsgate Home Entertainment)|
|Austin Owen Furst, Jr.|
|Parent||Vestron, Inc. (1981–1991)
Live Entertainment (1991–1992)
Lions Gate Entertainment (2016–present)
|Divisions||Vestron Video International
Vestron Music Video
Children's Video Library
Vestron Video was the main subsidiary of Vestron, Inc., a home video company based in Stamford, Connecticut that was active from 1981 to 1992. It is considered to have been a pioneer in the home video market.
Vestron was founded in 1981 by Austin Owen Furst, Jr. (born 1943), an executive at HBO, who was hired to dismantle the assets of Time-Life Films. Furst bought the video rights of the film library for himself and decided to form a home entertainment company with these assets. Furst's daughter suggested the moniker "Vestron", a portmanteau combining the name of Roman goddess Vesta and "Tron", which means "instrument" in Greek.
The company held on to its Time-Life Video library, and was also responsible for releases on VHS videocassette of mostly B movies and films from Cannon Films' library. They also distributed films under The Movie Store banner. The most notable titles Vestron released were Dirty Dancing, Monster Squad, and An American Werewolf in London. In later years, the company began to shift towards mainstream films, including films released through their Vestron Pictures subsidiary, most notably Dirty Dancing. The company was the first company to release National Geographic videos in the late 1980s, and was the first to market with a pro wrestling video, "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Presents Lords of the Ring". They also released a 3-volume series called "How to Beat Home Video Games", which contains strategies for video games of the time.
Vestron went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1985 with what was at the time a large market cap IPO of $440MM, which was oversubscribed. The company enjoyed success for several years, at one point exceeding 10% of the US video movie market. At its high point sales approximated $350MM annually, and the company sold video movies in over 30 countries either directly or through sub licensing agreements. This was basically a rights business, built by some insightful people who appreciated the video (VCR) rights to films before the major studios did. Eventually the major studios smartened up, and film product became increasingly harder for Vestron to acquire. Also, independent producers increased the price of those available.
The company started to make its own films (Dirty Dancing, Earth Girls Are Easy, Blue Steel), but when the market's preferences matured and shifted from watching almost any film to just watching "A" titles, for which the majors had a stronghold, the company was committed already with a pipeline of about 20 "B" to low "A" projects. Financing for the company fell through and it eventually filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, and was bought out on January 11, 1991 by Los Angeles-based LIVE Entertainment, a home video and music company, for $27.3 million. LIVE acquired Vestron's extensive (3,000 plus) film library; titles continued to be released under the Vestron name until 1992, with LIVE distributing the releases.
Their international divisions were the second largest just after Warner Bros. It had many direct theatrical, video and TV distribution offices all around the world in major markets and owned a video manufacturing plant in the Netherlands to supply European markets. Today, most of the holdings of Vestron Video are now owned by Lions Gate Entertainment, which merged with LIVE's forerunner company, Artisan Entertainment in 2003.
Vestron, Inc.'s subsidiaries included:
- Vestron Video (1981–1992)
- Vestron Pictures (1986–1990)
- Vestron Music Video (1980s)
- Vestron International Group
- Vestron Television, whose most notable production was a television series based on Dirty Dancing.
- Vestron Video International (1987–1991)
- Children's Video Library (1983–1987): Children's/family video sub-label.
- Lightning Video (1985–1990): genre sub-label.
- Lightning Pictures (1987–1989)
- Interaccess Film Distribution: Overseas distribution unit, formerly entitled Producers Distribution Organization. Many of its staff were hired from Producers Sales Organization after its bankruptcy.
Resurrection (Vestron Video Collector's Series)
On August 1, 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment has resurrected the Vestron Video brand as a collection of DVDs and Blu-rays that will release out-of-print Vestron library titles. This line, dubbed the Vestron Video Collector's Series, is branded with an updated version of the first Vestron Video logo from 1982–1986 and will begin with Blu-ray releases of the cult films Chopping Mall (an outside theatrical release) and Blood Diner (released by Lightning Pictures) on September 27, 2016.
List of Releases
|Title||Production Year||Licensed From||Release Date||DVD||Blu-ray||OOP Date||Notes|
|Blood Diner||1987||Lightning Pictures||September 27, 2016||No||Yes|
|Chopping Mall||1986||Concorde Pictures||September 27, 2016||No||Yes|
|Waxwork / Waxwork II: Lost in Time||1988 / 1992||Vestron Pictures / Lionsgate||October 18, 2016||No||Yes||Double feature|
|Return of the Living Dead 3||1993||Trimark Pictures||November 22, 2016||No||Yes|
|C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D.||1989||Lightning Pictures||November 22, 2016||No||Yes|
- Frederick Wasser (2001). Veni, vidi, video: the Hollywood Empire and the VCR (pp. 107-108). University of Texas Press. Retrieved November 17, 2009.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 25 December 1982. pp. 44–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc . 23 February 1985. pp. 25–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 13 July 1985. pp. 9–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- LA BRIEFLY. Daily News of Los Angeles (August 26, 1986).
- Billboard (November 1, 1986), p. 48
- Alexander, Chris (August 1, 2016). "Exclusive: Vestron Video Returns with Blood Diner Blu-ray". Coming Soon. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
- Hunt, Bill (August 1, 2016). "Lionsgate bows new Vestron BD series, plus BFI's Napoleon, Peter Gabriel, Da Vinci Code 4K, Phantasm & more". The Digital Bits. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
- Barton, Steve (August 4, 2016). "Lionsgate Unveils New Vestron Video Logo". Dread Central. Retrieved August 6, 2016.