Screen Gems is an American film production company and division company of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group that has served several different purposes for its parent companies over the decades since its incorporation.
Animation studio: 1939â"1946
For an entire decade, Charles Mintz distributed his Krazy Kat, Scrappy, and Color Rhapsody animated film shorts through Columbia Pictures. When Mintz became indebted to Columbia in 1939, he ended up selling his studio to them. Under new management, the studio assumed a new name, Screen Gems. The name was derived from an early Columbia Pictures slogan, "Gems of the Screen", itself a takeoff on the song "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean". Jimmy Bronis, Mintz's production manager became the studio head, but was shortly replaced by Mintz's brother-in-law, George Winkler. After this, Columbia decided to "clean house" by ousting the bulk of the staff (including Winkler) and hiring creative cartoonist, Frank Tashlin. After Tashlin's short stay came Dave Fleischer, formerly of the Fleischer Studios, and after several of his successors came Ray Katz and Henry Binder from Warner Bros. Cartoons (previously Leon Schlesinger Productions). Animators, directors, and writers at the series included people such as Art Davis, Sid Marcus, Bob Wickersham, and, during its latter period, Bob Clampett.
Like most studios, the Screen Gems studio had several established characters on their roster. These included Flippity and Flop, Willoughby Wren, and Tito and His Burrito. However, the most successful characters the studio had were The Fox and the Crow, a comic duo of a refined Fox and a street-wise Crow.
Screen Gems is also notable for being, in an attempt to keep costs low, the last American animation studio to stop producing black and white cartoons. The final black-and-white Screen Gems shorts appeared in 1946, over three years after the second-longest holdouts (Famous Studios and Leon Schlesinger Productions). During that same year, the studio shut its doors for good, though their animation output continued to be distributed until 1949.
The Screen Gems cartoons were only moderately successful when compared to those of Disney, Warner Bros., and MGM. The studio's purpose was assumed by an outside producer, United Productions of America (UPA), whose cartoons, including Gerald McBoing Boing and the Mr. Magoo series, were major critical and commercial successes.
Theatrical short film series
- Color Rhapsodies (1939â"1949, inherited from Charles Mintz)
- Fables (1939â"1942)
- Phantasies (1939â"1943)
- Flippity and Flop (1946)
- The Fox and the Crow (1940â"1946)
- Li'l Abner (1944)
One-shot theatrical short films
- How War Came (1941)
- The Great Cheese Mystery (1941)
- The Dumbconscious Mind (1942)
- The Vitamin G-Man (1943)
- He Can't Make It Stick (1943)
Television subsidiary: 1948â"1974
In November 1948, Columbia borrowed the Screen Gems name for its television production subsidiary when the studio acquired Pioneer Telefilms, a television commercial company founded by Harry Cohn's nephew, Ralph Cohn. Pioneer was later reorganized as Screen Gems. The studio opened its doors for business in New York on April 15, 1949.
By 1951, Screen Gems became a full-fledged television studio by producing and syndicating several popular shows (see below). On July 1, 1956, studio veteran Irving Briskin stepped down as stage manager of Columbia Pictures and form his production company Briskin Productions, Inc. to release series through Screen Gems and supervise all of its productions. On December 10, 1956, Screen Gems expanded into television syndication by acquiring Hygo Television Films (a.k.a. Serials Inc.) and its affiliated company United Television Films, Inc. Hygo Television Films was founded in 1951 by Jerome Hyams, who also acquired United Television Films in 1955 founded by Archie Mayers. During that year, the studio began syndicating Columbia Pictures' theatrical film library to television, including the wildly successful series of two-reel short subjects starring The Three Stooges in 1957. Earlier on August 2, 1957, they also acquired syndication rights to "Shock!", a package of Universal horror films (later shifted to MCA TV), which was enormously successful in reviving that genre. The name "Screen Gems", at the time, was used to hide the fact that the film studio was entering television production and distribution. Many film studios saw television as a threat to their business, thus it was expected that they would shun the medium. However, Columbia was one of a few studios who branched out to television under a pseudonym to conceal the true ownership of the television arm. That is until 1955, when Columbia decided to use its mascot under the Screen Gems banner.
From 1958 through 1974, under President John H. Mitchell and Vice President of Production Harry Ackerman, Screen Gems delivered classic TV shows and sitcoms: Father Knows Best, Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Hazel, Here Come the Brides, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Gidget, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Flying Nun, The Monkees, and The Partridge Family. It was also the original distributor for Hanna-Barbera Productions, an animation studio founded by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera after leaving Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and was also the distributor of the Soupy Sales show. The company also entered a co-production deal with Canada's CTV Television Network and produced several shows, many of which were filmed or taped in Toronto for distribution to Canadian stations (Showdown, The Pierre Berton Show).
In the late 1950s Screen Gems would also go into broadcasting. Stations that would be owned by Screen Gems over the years would include KCPX (Salt Lake City; now KTVX, owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group), WVUE (New Orleans; now owned by the Louisiana Media Company), WAPA (San Juan; now owned by the Hemisphere Media Group), WNJU (Linden, NJ; now owned by NBCUniversal), and several radio stations as well, including 50,000-watt clear channel WWVA (Wheeling WV; now owned by Clear Channel Communications). As a result in funding its acquisitions, 18% of Screen Gems' shares was spun off from Columbia and it became a publicly traded company in NYSE until 1968.
From 1964 to 1969, former child star Jackie Cooper was Vice President of Program Development. He was responsible for packaging series (such as Bewitched) and other projects and selling them to the networks.
In 1965 Columbia Pictures acquired a fifty percent interest in the New York-based commercial production company EUE, which was incorporated into Screen Gems and renamed EUE/Screen Gems. The studios were sold in 1982 to long time Columbia Pictures Executive, George Cooney, shortly after Columbia Pictures was sold to The Coca-Cola Company.
On December 23, 1968, Screen Gems merged with its parent company Columbia Pictures Corporation and became part of the newly formed Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. for $24.5 million.
On May 6, 1974, Screen Gems was renamed Columbia Pictures Television as suggested by then-studio president David Gerber. The final notable production from this incarnation of Screen Gems before the name change was the 1974 mini-series QB VII. Columbia was the last major studio to enter television by name.
Changes in corporate ownership of Columbia came in 1982, when Coca-Cola bought the company, although continuing to trade under the CPT name. In the mid-1980s, Coca-Cola reorganized its television holdings to create Coca-Cola Television, merging CPT with the television unit of Embassy Communications as Columbia/Embassy Television, although both companies continued to use separate identities until January 4, 1988, when it and Tri-Star Television were reunited under the CPT name. Columbia also ran Colex Enterprises a joint venture with LBS Communications to distribute the Screen Gems library, which ended in 1988.
On December 21, 1987, Coca-Cola spun off its entertainment holdings and sold it to Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. for $3.1 billion. It was renamed to Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc., also creating Columbia/Tri-Star by merging Columbia and Tri-Star. Both studios continued to produce and distribute films under their separate names. into a separate company called Columbia Pictures Entertainment. In 1989, Columbia Pictures was purchased by Sony Corporation of Japan. On August 7, 1991, Columbia Pictures Entertainment was renamed to Sony Pictures Entertainment as a film production-distribution subsidiary, and subsequently combined CPT with a revived TriStar Television in 1994 to form Columbia TriStar Television.
The television division today is presently known as Sony Pictures Television.
Selected TV shows
Television programs produced and/or syndicated by Screen Gems (most shows produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions are now owned and distributed by Warner Bros. Television, except for Jeannie and Partridge Family 2200 A.D. (see below):
- The Ford Television Theatre (1948â"1957)
- Burns & Allen (syndicated reruns of filmed episodes from 1952 to 1958)
- Art Linkletter's House Party (produced by John Guedel) (1952â"1969)
- Captain Midnight [later rebranded on television as Jet Jackson, Flying Commando] (1954â"56)
- The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (produced by Herbert B. Leonard) (1954â"1959)
- Father Knows Best (1954â"62)
- Tales of the Texas Rangers (1955â"57)
- Treasure Hunt (1956â"1959)
- Playhouse 90 (selected filmed episodes) (1956â"1960)
- Ranch Party (1957-1958)
- Huckleberry Hound (produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions) (1958â"62)
- The Donna Reed Show (1958â"66)
- Naked City (produced by Herbert B. Leonard) (1958â"63)
- Behind Closed Doors (1958â"59)
- Tightrope (1959â"60)
- Dennis the Menace (1959â"1963)
- Quick Draw McGraw (produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions) (1959â"62)
- The Three Stooges [190 two-reel short subjects produced from 1934 through 1958] (1959â"74; distributed thereafter by other Columbia/Sony divisions)
- Two Faces West (1960â"61); syndicated
- My Sister Eileen (1960â"61)
- Route 66 (produced by Herbert B. Leonard) (1960â"1964) (Sony surrendered the rights to the estate of Herbert B. Leonard)
- The Flintstones (produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions 1960â"1966; syndicated by Screen Gems until 1974)
- Yogi Bear (1960â"1963; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions)
- Top Cat (1961â"62; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions)
- The Jetsons (1962â"63; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions)
- Hazel (1961â"66)
- Grindl (1963â"64)
- The Farmer's Daughter (1963â"66)
- Bewitched (1964â"72; produced by Ashmont Productions 1971â"72)
- Jonny Quest (1964â"65; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions)
- Magilla Gorilla (1964â"67; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions)
- Peter Potamus (1964â"67; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions)
- Days of our Lives (produced by Corday Productions 1965â"1974; produced thereafter by Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television)
- Camp Runamuck (1965â"66)
- Gidget (1965â"66)
- The Soupy Sales Show (1965â"66; produced by WNEW-TV New York City)
- I Dream of Jeannie (1965â"70; produced by Sidney Sheldon Productions)
- Morning Star (1965â"1966) (in conjunction with Corday Productions)
- The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1965â"66)
- Hawk (1966)
- Love on a Rooftop (1966â"67)
- The Monkees (1966â"68; produced by Raybert Productions)
- Adventures of the Seaspray (1967; produced by Pacific Films)
- Everybody's Talking (1967)
- The Flying Nun (1967â"70)
- The Second Hundred Years (1967â"68)
- Dream House (1968â"1970)
- Here Come the Brides (1968â"70)
- The Ugliest Girl in Town (1968â"1969)
- The Johnny Cash Show (1969â"1970)
- Playboy After Dark (1969â"1970; produced by Playboy Enterprises)
- Nancy (1970â"71; produced by Sidney Sheldon Productions)
- The Partridge Family (1970â"74)
- The Young Rebels (1970â"1971)
- Getting Together (1971â"1972)
- The Good Life (1971â"72; produced by Lorimar Productions)
- Bridget Loves Bernie (1972â"73)
- The Paul Lynde Show (1972â"73; produced by Ashmont Productions)
- Temperatures Rising (1972â"73; produced by Ashmont Productions)
- Needles and Pins (1973)
- The New Temperatures Rising Show (1973â"74; produced by Ashmont Productions)
- The Young and the Restless (produced by Bell Dramatic Serial Company 1973â"74; produced thereafter by Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television)
- Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1973â"74)
- Police Story (produced by David Gerber Productions 1973â"74; produced thereafter by Columbia Pictures Television from 1974 to 1977)
- Jeannie (1973â"75; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions; Sony Pictures Television owns the distribution rights due to the show's connection to I Dream of Jeannie)
- The Girl with Something Extra (1973â"1974)
- Sale of the Century (1973â"1974)
- Partridge Family 2200 A.D. (1974â"75; produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions; Sony Pictures Television owns the distribution rights due to the show's connection to The Partridge Family)
- Goodyear Theatre (1957â"1960)
- Alcoa Theatre (1957â"1960)
- Casey Jones (1958)
- The Donna Reed Show (1958â"1966; full rights belong to the estate of Donna Reed since 2008)
- Manhunt (1959â"1961)
Specialty feature film studio, 1999â"present
On September 16, 2002, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television became Sony Pictures Television, while three years earlier, in 1999, Screen Gems was resurrected as a fourth specialty film producing arm of Sony's Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, after Sony Pictures Classics, Triumph Films and Destination Films. Screen Gems produces and releases "films that fall between the wide-release films traditionally developed and distributed by Columbia Pictures and those released by Sony Pictures Classics." Many of its releases are of the horror, thriller, action, comedy and urban genres, making the unit similar to Dimension Films (part of The Weinstein Company), Hollywood Pictures (part of the Walt Disney Company), and Rogue Pictures (currently owned by Relativity Media, but distributed by former owners Universal Studios).
The highest grossing Screen Gems film as of December 2013, is Resident Evil: Afterlife, which grossed a total of $296,221,566 worldwide.
Screen Gems films
- Screen Gems at the Internet Movie Database
- Screen Gems Television at the Internet Movie Database
- Archive of Screen Gems President John H. Mitchell
- The Columbia Crow's Nest â" site dedicated to the Screen Gems animation studio.