Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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 NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment division of NBCUniversal, which is 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. Prior to 1980, Castle Films (known as Universal 8 after 1977) 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 (1997–2005) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (2005–2016).
Universal 1440 Entertainment was formed in 2005 as the production arm of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
This company was the worldwide 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. Until Lionsgate formed their home video division, their releases were distributed by Universal with the exception of Dogma, which was distributed by Columbia TriStar Home Video.
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 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 all of the Universal Pictures film library, the Focus Features film library, and shows from NBCUniversal Television Distribution (NBC, E!, Syfy, USA Network, Universal Kids, and Oxygen). The division also currently has distribution deals with Bleecker Street, The Film Arcade, Mattel Creations, Aviron Pictures, STX Entertainment, 101 Studios, Open Road Films, MGM Home Entertainment (select new releases only, most of them are handled by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), Pure Flix Entertainment, Picturehouse, GKIDS (select & in-demand titles only until 2017 when distribution had shifted to Shout! Factory), Blumhouse Tilt, DreamWorks Classics (via DreamWorks Animation), Big Idea Entertainment, Neon, Entertainment One (in Canada, UK, Australia, Spain, Germany and USA), and Amazon Studios (starting with Brad's Status).
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.
On January 14, 2020, Universal and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced that they would partner on a 10-year multinational joint-venture, merging their physical operations in North America. Universal will distribute Warner Bros.' titles in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan; while Warners will distribute Universal's titles in the U.K., Italy and Benelux. On April 7, 2020, the European Commission approved the merger.
In the Netherlands, UPHE used to distribute 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 later on, Belga Films.
UPHE also distributes StudioCanal titles on home media 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. In Japan, releases from both Universal and Paramount appeared on CIC-Victor Video Ltd. (a joint venture between CIC Video and JVC) for VHS and on Pioneer LDC, Inc. for Laserdisc. 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 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, and Universal has licensed all of NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan's catalog to other companies rather than directly distributing them themselves.
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. With the distributor change for Universal's titles in the UK, Paramount Home Media Distribution signed a new UK home entertainment distribution deal with StudioCanal and Lionsgate UK's Elevation Sales in July 2020 that began in January 2021.
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.
Family film and entertainment label
Universal 1440 Entertainment
Universal 1440 Entertainment is the direct-to-video entertainment label of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, itself is the home entertainment distribution division of Universal Pictures, owned by the NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment division of Comcast's NBCUniversal.