Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the home video distribution division of American film studio Universal Pictures, owned by the NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast.
HistoryThe company was founded in 1980 as MCA Videocassette, Inc., with the release of films on Beta and VHS, including Jaws, Jaws 2 and 1941. Prior to 1980, Castle Films had served as Universal's home film distribution unit. 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 and Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
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.
After the founding of NBC Universal in 2004, Universal started releasing DVDs of shows from the newly-established NBCUniversal Television Distribution.
Universal 1440 Entertainment was formed in 2005 as the production arm of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
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. Until they 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, its sequel and The Scorpion King. Since August 9, 2016, UPHE started releasing Ultra HD Blu-rays.
UPHE is the U.S. home video distributor for the Universal Pictures film library, the Focus Features film library, and shows from NBCUniversal Television Distribution. The division also currently has distribution deals with Bleecker Street, Mattel Creations, Aviron Pictures, Pure Flix Entertainment, Picturehouse, DreamWorks Pictures, GKIDS, Blumhouse Tilt, DreamWorks Classics, Big Idea Entertainment, Neon, Entertainment One, and Amazon Studios releases. On October 10, 2018, it was confirmed that UPHE would become MGM's home video distributor for films released by the United Artists Releasing joint venture, beginning with the Blu-ray release of Operation Finale on December 4, 2018; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will continue to release MGM's April 1986-August 2018 catalog until June 2020, as well as Orion Pictures' releases starting with The Belko Experiment''.
In 2015, two years prior to Sony Pictures Television acquiring a 95% stake in Funimation, Funimation formed a multi-year home video distribution deal with UPHE. SPHE soon took over after the UPHE deal expired.
Starting on June 5, 2018, Universal re-released all of DreamWorks Animation's film library after their deal with 20th Century Fox ended.
On January 14, 2020, Universal and Warner Bros. announced that they would partner on a 10-year joint-venture involving the merger of the physical North American operations of both Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video into one entity beginning in 2021, subject to regulatory approval.
InternationallyIn 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 and Belga Films.
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. 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 alongside Paramount Pictures. In Japan, releases from both Universal and Paramount appeared on CIC-Victor Video Ltd. for VHS and on Pioneer LDC, Inc. for Laserdisc. Following Universal's acquisition of PolyGram in 1999, PolyGram Video was dissolved into Universal.
UPHE's international operations are a joint venture with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a carryover 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 home media 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 2009 and Geneon Universal Entertainment from 2009 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 USA shut down in late 2007, though UPHE continues to distribute home video worldwide.
From 2017 to 2018, Funimation began directly distributing a select number of its titles in Australia and New Zealand through Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia. In September 2018, Funimation transferred distribution to Madman Entertainment, with Madman handling distribution and classification within the region.
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 United States and Canada.
Alongside the announcement of the Universal/Warner Bros. NA physical home media joint-venture, Universal announced that they would begin handling home video distribution of Warner Bros. titles in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan in the third quarter of 2020, while Warner Bros. announced that they would begin handling home video distribution of Universal titles in the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in the first quarter of 2021.