Sony Integrates TriStar and Columbia Pictures

TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures will soon be one big happy family, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced on March 31 in Culver City, CA. The two production companies, which were purchased separately by Sony in 1989, have been operated independently, except for a common marketing and distribution department. John Calley, Sony Pictures president, said it no longer made financial sense to have the two companies competing for the same projects.

Columbia is one of the oldest Hollywood studios. TriStar was created in 1982 as a joint venture of CBS, Time Warner's HBO, and Columbia. With a library of over 200 films, it generates significant cash through television licensing agreements. Long rumored as a potential candidate for the auction block, TriStar will be absorbed into Columbia, which will operate as Sony's only production company.

Integrating the two companies will require no layoffs, said Calley; TriStar's 40 employees will assume positions in the new combined operation. Chris Lee, TriStar's president of production, will become the new president of production at Columbia, reporting to Amy Pascal.

Although the two companies released 29 films between them last year, many of these were picked up from independent producers. Calley said his goal for Columbia is to produce and distribute up to 24 "in-house" films per year. It is hoped that the increased production will make up for the loss of major supplier Mandalay Entertainment, a production company owned by former Sony Pictures head Peter Guber. Mandalay, which supplied Sony with a half-dozen movies yearly, recently defected to Paramount Pictures.

Sony's big summer release, Godzilla, is currently in production by Centropolis, a Sony-funded company owned by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, who produced Stargate and Independence Day.