Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Vestron Dynasty

Today, let's take a look at the history of Vestron Video, one of the pioneers of the home video era, and of course my namesake!

Vestron was founded in 1981 by an HBO executive who was hired to dismantle Time-Life's Theatrical, Television and Home Video assets.  Having sold the Theatrical and Television properties with no issue, he couldn't find a buyer for the Home Video Division, so he kept it, naming it Vestron Video.

They first started to distribute B-Movies, releasing such cult classics as Blood Diner, CHUD II: Bud The CHUD and Earth Girls Are Easy.  They eventually started to distribute more mainstream titles through thier subsidiary Vestron Pictures such as The Princess Bride and Dirty Dancing.  The powers that be in the company started to shift thier interest to soley A-list films.....ignoring the 20 or so B movies still in the works.  This lead to a fall through in financing and the company filing Chapter 11.  In 1991, LIVE Entertainment bought out Vestron.

Now LIVE Entertainment, began life in 1982 as USA Home Video, which was a division of Family Home Entertainment (who also owned Thriller Video and The Video Late Show).  Still with me so far?  Okay good, because it gets a little more convoluted from here.  In 1986, the company changed it's name to International Video Entertainment (IVE), which was then acquired by Carolco Pictures.

So far so good, right? Well there's more and if you're still reading, then I will have to assume that you (like myself) are a nerd such as myself and actually find this fascinating.....good for you!  Okay, so here we go:

In 1990 they became known as Live Home Video.  They then acquired Vestron video and started to release Anime films from Pioneer Entertainment.  Now in 1995, Carolco ceased to exist and StudioCanal acquired the rights to the full film library.  LIVE struck a deal with StudioCanal and continued to distribute Carolco's films on video.  Around this time Live Entertainment absorbed Tenth Avenue Video as well as Magnum Entertainment.  In 1998, the company and all absorbed properties were renamed Artisan Entertainment.

In 2003 Artisan was acquired by Lions Gate Entertainment, who also acquired Tri-Mark Pictures about the same time.   So the long and short of is that Vestron never really died, but became part of a much larger entity, who has become a giant in the home video industry and film production.  With the huge cataloge of movies at Lions Gate's disposal, one has to wonder when the more obscure movies (such as Blood Diner) will get a proper US release. 

For now, I shall be satisfied with the steady stream of genre films that rolls out of Lions Gate on a steady basis.

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