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United International Pictures (or UIP) is a joint venture of Paramount Pictures (owned by Viacom) and Universal Studios (owned by NBCUniversal), to distribute some of the two studios' films theatrically outside the United States (including territories), Canada, and the Anglophone Caribbean.

UIP also had international theatrical distribution rights to features by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (which included Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists) when MGM was part of the venture. In 2000, as MGM left UIP,[1] those rights were passed on to 20th Century Fox (owned by News Corporation).

Overview[edit | edit source]

Cinema International Corporation[edit | edit source]

Paramount's early history with MCA dates back to the 1950s, when part of its talent pool worked for Paramount Pictures, notably Alfred Hitchcock. In 1958, MCA purchased the pre-December 1949 Paramount sound feature film library. In 1962, MCA purchased Universal Studios. In 1966, Gulf+Western purchased Paramount.

In a cost-cutting move, in 1970, as a result of American anti-trust laws, and due to declining movie-going audiences, both Paramount and Universal, agreed to merge their international operations into a new company: Cinema International Corporation, registered in England and Wales. It even operated in Canada and the Caribbean before those territories were considered part of the "domestic" North American market.

In 1973, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer closed down its distribution offices and became a partner in CIC, which took over international distribution for MGM's films; however, United Artists took over the US, Canadian and Caribbean distribution for MGM's films that time. CIC also entered the home video market by forming CIC Video, which distributed Paramount and Universal titles on video worldwide. MGM however, had its own video unit, which later became a joint venture with CBS as MGM/CBS Home Video (later known as MGM/UA Home Video, which then became managed by Warner Home Video).

United International Pictures[edit | edit source]

In 1981, MGM merged with United Artists, which had its own international distribution unit. CIC refused to let MGM drop out of the venture at the time, which led to the reorganization of the company as United International Pictures. MGM eventually left the venture in 2001, when it moved its international distribution to 20th Century Fox. The last MGM film to be released through UIP was Hannibal.

In 1986, Ted Turner purchased MGM/UA, but later resold the company except for its film library, which included the pre-May 1986 MGM film library and the pre-1950 Warner Bros. film library (which was sold to Associated Artists Productions, sold in 1958 to United Artists). After that library was acquired by Turner, UIP (through MGM/UA) signed a deal to continue distributing the pre-May 1986 MGM film library for theatrical release.

CIC's name lived on in its video division, which became directly managed as a joint venture of Paramount Home Video and MCA Videocassette, Inc. (later MCA Home Video and MCA/Universal Home Video). CIC Video survived until the late 1990s/early 2000s, when Universal purchased PolyGram and reorganized its video division (which was a joint venture with what is now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and remains so to this day) under the Universal name, while Paramount took over full ownership of CIC Video and merged it under its own video division.

UIP also had a subscription television arm, UIP Pay TV, which distributed Paramount, MGM/UA, and Universal releases to pay TV broadcasters outside the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Anglophone Caribbean. UIP Pay TV was broken up in 1997 after a 4-year investigation by the European Union, as it accused UIP as a cartel-like organisation. The pay TV rights for the films were eventually transferred to Paramount International Television (later renamed CBS Paramount International Television and currently known as CBS Studios International; today, the Paramount films are distributed by Trifecta Entertainment & Media), Universal Worldwide Television and MGM Worldwide Television.

2007 reorganization[edit | edit source]

Starting in 2007, UIP considerably reduced its international operations. At least 15 "key countries" are now directly managed separately by Universal (taking over operations in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland)[1][2] and Paramount (taking over operations in Australia, Brazil, France, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and the UK).[1]

As Universal takes over the Korean division of UIP, CJ Entertainment became the new distributor for films by Paramount.

Though it was initially planned to be kept intact, UIP's Japanese operations ceased in late 2007;[3] Paramount took its Japanese distribution operation in-house,[4] and Universal Pictures Japan formed distribution alliances with Toho-Towa for theatrical distribution[5] and Geneon Entertainment (now Geneon Universal Entertainment) for home entertainment distribution).[6]

In 2002, Finland's UIP branch ceased operations. Its releases in that territory were later handled by Buena Vista International, then in 2006, distribution passed on to national cinema operator Finnkino.

Current organization[edit | edit source]

The company is based in London, United Kingdom. As of 2010, UIP continues to directly distribute films in 19 countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines (through Solar Entertainment Company), Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. In addition, the company as distribution agreements with locally owned distribution companies in a further 43 countries.[7] One such example is Bontonfilm in the Czech Republic, which has released films from UIP for both the Czech and the Slovak markets for years.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

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See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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