Columbia Pictures

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The Columbia Pictures logo

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film and TV production company and part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, which in turn becomes Sony Pictures Entertainment , and thus to the so-called "majors" , the five largest film companies in the United States , (alongside Warner Bros. , Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group , Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios ).



In 1919 the brothers Jack and Harry Cohn founded the Cohn-Brandt-Cohn Film Sales Corporation (CBC) together with their lawyer friend Joe Brandt in New York . Brandt was president and worked with Jack Cohn in New York to manage sales, advertising and distribution, while Harry Cohn oversaw film production in Hollywood . He rented space in a Poverty Row studio off Sunset Boulevard near Hollywood's Gower Street and produced moderately successful low-budget films . Her first film was More To Be Pitied Than Scorned in 1922 , a melodrama starring J. Frank Glendon and Rosemary Theby.

In an effort to improve the image, the studio was renamed Columbia Pictures Corporation in 1924 on the initiative of Harry Cohn in reference to Columbia as a poetic name for the United States .

Promotion 1924–1939

Columbia's first president was Joe Brandt, who often had to mediate between the two always controversial Cohn brothers (both vice presidents). In 1932 Harry Cohn paid Brandt out and ran the company himself. Columbia was the only studio in Hollywood where a production manager was also president of the company. In addition, it was the only studio that was not supervised by any company with regard to finances or operational policy decisions.

Even with the new name and newly rented offices on Sunset Boulevard, mostly B-movies were released in the early years . Columbia's rise began when the ambitious director Frank Capra was won over. In 1928 he saved the production of the film Submarine . Incidentally, it was the first film with sound effects that followed Capra's first “real” sound film in 1929 : The Donovan Affair .

Capra turned out to be Columbia's greatest asset, earning great trust from the owners and pressuring the Cohns for better materials and higher investments. Capra film It Happened One Night (1934, orig. It Happened One Night ) was the first film to all five major Oscars won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. This success cemented Columbia's status as one of the most important studios in Hollywood.

In addition to other great films such as Lost Horizon (1937, German title In den Fesseln von Shangri-La ) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), with which James Stewart had his breakthrough, Columbia also produced many short films ( Two-Reeler ) under with Buster Keaton , Charley Chase and Harry Langdon , among others . 1937 began to bring out the first serial stories. The individual episodes, which mostly ended with “to be continued” , were intended to attract visitors to the cinemas week after week. After Jungle Menace (1937, 15 episodes), Batman (1943, 15 episodes) and Superman (1948, 15 episodes) followed.


The desire for distraction and entertainment during the war and post-war years led Hollywood to see its richest decade. All the studios flourished. Columbia, which until then had only borrowed stars like Clark Gable or Cary Grant or shared them with other studios, now tried to build its own stars. As early as 1936 they had a young talented dancer named Margarita Cansino under contract. After a few minor B-movies, she changed her name to Rita Hayworth and became Columbia's first superstar. In the film Cover Girl (1944, German title Es tanzt die Göttin or Das Fräulein on the title page ), Gene Kelly came out big at her side . And with her in the lead role, the film Gilda became one of the great American film noir in 1946 .

Columbia had previously animated films released but expelled in principle, only foreign productions, including " Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse . Most recently, the cartoons by Charles B. Mintz were distributed ( Krazy Kat , Color Rhapsody ). In 1940 Columbia took over the studio from Mintz and renamed it Screen Gems . In 1946 the animation studio was closed after the black and white cartoons produced showed only moderate success, apart from perhaps The Fox and The Crow .

The Screen Gems brand was revived in 1948, this time as a television subsidiary of Columbia. Successful shows and TV series were produced under this label in the years that followed - Rin Tin Tin , Father is the Best (orig. Father Knows Best ), Charming Jeannie (orig. I Dream of Jeannie ) and many more.


In the fifties, some big films followed such as Damn in All Eternity (1952, orig. From Here to Eternity , 8 Oscars) with Burt Lancaster , Die Faust im Nacken (1954, orig. On The Waterfront , 8 Oscars) with Marlon Brando and Die Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, orig. The Bridge on the River Kwai , 7 Oscars) with Alec Guinness and William Holden .

Columbia benefited from the fact that in the early years they had refrained from owning their own movie theaters. In contrast to the large competing companies, the company was spared the massive losses of the cinema chains at that time. But the increasing competition from television made it increasingly difficult for Columbia to work profitably. After the death of Jack Cohn in 1956 and Harry Cohn in 1958, Columbia went into the red for the first time. Abe Schneider and Leo Jaffe now ran the company.

1960s and 1970s

Columbia Pictures Corporation stock (1965)

All the big studios were slowly losing their identity. Independent producers rented the studio space, at least brought in money and fame , like the British production Lawrence von Arabien (1962), and probably led to Columbia opening a branch in England in 1965. Major UK productions were A Man for All Seasons (1966, orig. A Man for All Seasons ) and Georgy Girl (1966). When some costly flops followed, the engagement in Great Britain was terminated in 1969.

In 1968 Columbia was restructured to Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. and moved into a studio area at Gower Street and Sunset Boulevard . ( Lage ) In 1972 she took over Burbank Studios in a joint venture with Warner Communications .

But after successes like Easy Rider (1969) there were a number of failures. In 1973, the investment bank rose Allen & Company Inc. , and under new management great success with again followed Shampoo (1975), Taxi Driver (1976), Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, orig. Close Encounters of the Third Child ) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979, orig. Kramer vs. Kramer ).


In 1982 the company was bought by The Coca-Cola Company . Some blockbusters came out like Ghostbusters (1984), and in 1988 the film The Last Emperor (1987, orig. The Last Emperor ) received all 9 Oscars for which it was nominated. But in 1989 Coca-Cola broke out of the film business and Columbia Pictures was bought up by the Sony Corporation of America , along with Tri-Star Pictures and other entertainment holdings of the Coca-Cola Company .

Columbia Pictures has been the core of Sony Pictures Entertainment since 1991 . The company was then merged with TriStar Pictures to form the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group , whose agencies outside the United States usually bear the name Columbia TriStar Film or Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International (CTFDI).

In the USA, the company continues to operate under the name Columbia Pictures , but is now only a SPE label. The television division and the home entertainment division carried the alliance names Columbia TriStar Television (since 2002 Sony Pictures Television ) and Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (since 2004 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment ). Since the end of 2004 / beginning of 2005, the old alliance name Columbia TriStar has been consistently replaced worldwide by Sony Pictures .

In September 2000 Columbia released TriStar Home Entertainment Anatomie , the first project of the German Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion GmbH on DVD .

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Coordinates: 34 ° 1 ′ 3.5 ″  N , 118 ° 24 ′ 5.6 ″  W.