Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (formerly Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Video, MCA-Universal Home Video, MCA Home Video, MCA Videodisc Inc. and MCA Videocassette Inc.) is the home video distribution division of American film studio Universal Pictures, owned by the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group division of NBCUniversal, owned by Comcast.
The company was founded in 1980 as MCA Videocassette, Inc., with the release of films on Beta and VHS, including Jaws, Jaws 2, and 1941. In late 1983, both the Laserdisc sister label MCA Videodisc and the VHS/Beta label MCA Videocassette were consolidated into a single entity, MCA Home Video, alternating with the MCA Videocassette name until December 1983. In 1990, with the 75th anniversary of Universal Studios, it became MCA/Universal Home Video, alternating with the MCA Home Video name from 1990 until 1997. The company later went by various company names, including Universal Studios Home Video (1997–2005), and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (2005–2016).
In 1980, they released two '50s 3-D motion pictures, Creature from the Black Lagoon and It Came from Outer Space, in anaglyphic format on Beta and VHS.
This company was the video distributor for DreamWorks titles until DreamWorks was sold to Paramount Pictures' parent company, Viacom, in 2006, at which point Paramount took over distribution. After Viacom spun off DreamWorks in 2008, Universal Studios Home Entertainment was planned to resume distributing DreamWorks' movies, but this deal fell through. The company was also the video distributor for Summit Entertainment releases until they were bought by Lionsgate, at which point 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment took over distribution. Until Lionsgate formed their home video division, their releases were distributed by UPHE with the exception of Dogma, which was distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In addition to DVDs, Universal was a major supporter of the HD DVD format until Toshiba discontinued the format. Since July 22, 2008, UPHE released Blu-rays and it was the last major Hollywood movie studio to do so. The very first three Blu-ray releases to come out in the U.S. were The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Scorpion King.
UPHE is the U.S. home video distributor for Open Road Films, Funimation, STX Entertainment, Bleecker Street, HIT Entertainment, Broad Green Pictures, Aviron Pictures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Picturehouse, DreamWorks Pictures, GKIDS and Crunchyroll (through Funimation) releases.
Starting in 2019, Universal will become the home video distributor for DreamWorks Animation releases.
In the Netherlands, UPHE distributes most DVDs of films released theatrically by Independent Films, although this is now limited to catalog releases, as more recent films are now released through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
UPHE also distributes StudioCanal DVDs and Blu-rays in France, most of the Republic Pictures library in the UK and most of the Carolco Pictures library in Australia, Latin America, and several European countries (along with other StudioCanal properties). In the 1980s until the late 1990s, they also distributed tapes released by Cineplex Odeon in Canada.
UPHE previously distributed its films on video internationally through CIC Video (a division of Cinema International Corporation, later United International Pictures) alongside Paramount Pictures. Following Universal's acquisition of PolyGram in 1999, PolyGram Video (which had international operations) was dissolved into Universal.
UPHE's international operations are a joint venture with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a carry-over from the PolyGram days. But more often than not, both UPHE and SPHE operate a joint venture in Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia called Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The venture distributes UPHE and SPHE titles on DVD and Blu-ray in those countries and also licenses anime series and films from the anime library of NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan, the Japanese division of UPHE's sister company, Universal Pictures International Entertainment, formerly known as Pioneer LDC from 1981 to 2003, Geneon Entertainment from 2003 to 2008 and Geneon Universal Entertainment from 2008 to very late 2013, the year they switched to their current name. The name of the joint venture is Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia. Before that, though, NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan had a marketing and distribution division in North America called Geneon USA, which, like UPHE, also distributed home video. At the time, NBCUEJ was known as Geneon Entertainment. Geneon Entertainment USA shut down in late 2007, though UPHE continues to distribute home video worldwide.
In October 2014, Universal established global headquarters for its home video division in Los Angeles.
At the start of 2015, Paramount Home Media Distribution signed a distribution agreement with Universal, whereby the latter will distribute the former's titles overseas, particularly the territories where Paramount holds an office. The deal began on July 1, 2015 in the United Kingdom. Universal will continue distributing Paramount's DVDs and Blu-rays out of the U.S., Spain and Canada.
Notes and references