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Key Video

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Title: Key Video  
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Subject: List of years in home video, The Grapes of Wrath (film)
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Key Video

CBS/Fox Video
General partnership
Industry Home Video
Fate Partnership Ended
Predecessor(s) Magnetic Video
CBS Video Enterprises
Successor(s) 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
CBS Home Entertainment
Founded June 18, 1982
Defunct May 1998
Headquarters Farmington Hills, Michigan (1982-1985)
Livonia, Michigan (1985-1989)
New York City (1989-1998)
Area served Worldwide
Products Pre-Recorded VHS
Pre-Recorded Betamax

CBS/Fox Video was a home video company formed and established in 1982, as a merger between 20th Century Fox Video, formerly Magnetic Video Corporation, and CBS Video Enterprises which sold film libraries from major American film studios and was the American licensee of BBC Video releases. These products were released in the VHS and Betamax home video formats.

The company was based in Farmington Hills, Michigan(home of predecessor Magnetic Video) until 1985, when it moved to Livonia, Michigan. In 1989, it moved its headquarters to New York City, where it stayed until it became Fox Video (now 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) in 1991.

CBS/Fox Video was founded under a 50-50 venture with 20th Century Fox in 1982 when CBS broke off a previous venture formed in 1980. During this period, both companies continued to operate independently while maintaining their partnership. A reorganization occurred in 1990 with CBS selling products under the CBS Video name (which had been sparingly used since the 1970s) and mainstream Fox titles controlled by Fox Video and was enacted in 1991. In 1998, CBS/Fox was acquired by Fox Entertainment Group and later ceased operations in that year. Since CBS/Fox disbanded, their film rights have been brought by 20th Century Fox and CBS merged with Viacom.


Video rental library

Before CBS/Fox Video existed, 20th Century Fox Video released a select few titles for rental only, including Dr. No, Rocky, and Star Wars. While sale tapes were in big boxes that were later used by CBS/Fox in its early years, Video Rental Library tapes were packaged in black clamshell cases. Similar approaches were taken by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video around that time.

Joint venture

In 1982, CBS formed a 50-50 venture with 20th Century Fox after Metro-Goldwyn Mayer broke off a joint venture with CBS, that was agreed in 1980, to market videocassettes and videodiscs.[1] This was publicly announced on June 18, 1982, where they announced CBS's 40-acre film and production facility in Studio City, California would be operated by both companies.[2] In the process, CBS and Fox continued to independently supply programs for the home video market, while CBS/Fox supplied films from motion picture studios.[1]

In 1985, CBS/Fox became the American licensee of BBC Video products.[3] CBS/Fox brought large amounts of film libraries such as the United Artists films. The library brought consisted mainly of pre-MGM merger titles (although at the time, MGM holds the video rights to some pre-merger films that are not yet released on video), films from the James Bond and Rocky series, although the post-merger Bond and Rocky 1980s sequels were released by CBS/Fox as well, and some low profile post-merger films under license from MGM/UA. These UA films were later issued through MGM/UA Home Video (now, MGM Home Entertainment) starting in 1989 (although Fox would later release the post-1986 MGM library years later). CBS/Fox also secured rights from George Lucas for the video release of The Empire Strikes Back for $12 million on August 30, 1984. Lucas claimed the deal was to prevent the film from being broadcast on television.[4][5]

In 1985, CBS and 20th Century Fox secured a financial package that saw both companies generate between $75 and $100 million. The deal also included the offering of bonds with the investment firm Drexel Burnham Lambert.[6]

In 1986, CBS/Fox lost the home video rights to the a.a.p. library to MGM/UA Home Video. At the time, the a.a.p. and pre-May 1986 MGM film libraries were purchased by Ted Turner after its short-lived ownership of MGM/UA, which resulted in the formation of Turner Entertainment Co. In 1987, the company increased its rights from BBC Video after buying the rights to 600 broadcasts. When asked about how the agreement came to light, then-CBS/Fox president Leonard White said "The deal is timed to coincide with the BBC's 50th anniversary".[7] Within a month of the announcement, CBS/Fox released a definitive line-up of films named "Five Star Collection IV" which included 28 films. Such films included: Revenge of the Nerds, Cat's Eye and Oxford Blues.[8]

In 1989, CBS/Fox lost the home video rights to the Lorimar library to Warner Home Video, after Warner Communications (which merged with Time Inc. that year to form Time Warner) purchased Lorimar. In November of that year, the company filed a lawsuit against MGM/UA over a video distribution agreement that was broken. The claim was that CBS/Fox lost revenue after video releases ended up being films that did not perform well in cinemas while MGM/UA distributed higher-grossing films.[9] The two companies were placed in a bad relationship since 1981 when MGM/UA brought United Artists which created its own video subsidiary.[10] The case was settled on June 26, 1992, when both companies resolved their differences.[11]

In 1990–91, CBS/Fox began releasing titles from the then bankrupt Media Home Entertainment. At the end of 1990, CBS/Fox reported they controlled 6.5% of the home video market and reported revenues of $249 million.[12]

In 1990, a reorganization of the company was made, with most mainstream Fox titles being turned over to the new FoxVideo that appeared in 1991.[13] CBS began releasing their product under the "CBS Video" name, with FoxVideo handling distribution. However, CBS/Fox remained active for distribution of BBC Video products and other non-CBS or Fox products, and their print logo was also used for FoxVideo's re-releases of pre-1990 Fox movies in tandem with the latter company's logo.

In 1992, ABC Sports and CBS/Fox agreed to a collaboration that allowed men's fragrance company Drakkar Noir to promote their products on a nationwide scale on television. The advertisements cost Drakkar Noir in excess of $1.3 million, which included footage from ABC's The Thrill of Victory and CBS/Fox's The Agony of Defeat.[14]

In 1993, CBS/Fox broadened its appeal to include gay audiences with the release of The Lost Language of Cranes, a BBC production that was shown on PBS in 1992. Video rental stores took advantage of a gay and lesbian audience, which was a small demographic.[15]

In 1995, CBS/Fox secured a 10-year agreement that would allow the company to distribute On Ice's Inc. production of Nutcracker on Ice that was aired by NBC on January 1, 1996.[16]

The end of CBS/Fox Video

In early 1998, Fox Entertainment Group (owned by News Corporation) acquired CBS/Fox Video and the rest of CBS/Fox's non-shopping (film and TV) assets, and renamed CBS/Fox Video to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The company ceased full operations in May 1998, with the releases of FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue and Our Friend, Martin. A short time later, CBS's merger with Viacom was finalized, and the CBS/Fox partnership ceased existence, although even after the corporate split CBS/Fox did still own some ancillary rights to two Rodgers and Hammerstein film properties, South Pacific and Oklahoma, until 20th Century Fox was able to fully assume CBS/Fox' former share of these films.

Specialty labels

CBS/Fox used specialty labels for children and family's videos, music videos, and sports videos. In addition to its main CBS/Fox label, CBS/Fox maintained two other labels, Key Video (mostly B and drive-in fare and some television films, and Playhouse Video (children and family's films and programs, including Planet of the Apes films and Shirley Temple's films, Muppet videos, Mr. Rogers videos, and Dr. Seuss Specials by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises on CBS and ABC videos); this label was also used on the earliest Doctor Who VHS releases. These became inactive by 1991, though 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment reactivated the Key Video label as Key DVD.

Anti-piracy measures

In the attempt to prevent unauthorized tape duplication, CBS/Fox became an early adopter of Macrovision anti-piracy technology.[17] In countries such as Australia, the company introduced a colored spine that was either yellow or blue on VHS tapes. On Betamax cassettes, a polarized seal was present. These measures were taken to ensure that consumers would be guaranteed that their products were of high quality.[18]


External links

  • Internet Movie Database

Template:21st Century Fox

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