Creator: Orion Pictures

A studio from the stars!

Orion Pictures was founded in 1978 by Arthur B. Krim, Eric Pleskow, and Robert S. Benjamin, three United Artists expatriates who found themselves dissatisfied with decisions by the studio's then-owner Transamerica. They chose to finance independently-produced films and release them via a distribution deal with Warner Bros. . The studio was known for allowing its filmmakers a lot of control over its projects; unfortunately, such business ideals did not equal profits.

The upstart studio wasted no time in acquiring talent and film deals, and got its first film out by April of the next year. However, the movies released in its first two years yielded no major successes outside of 10. However, Orion managed to save some face by hiring back Woody Allen.

In 1981, Orion severed ties with WB, who kept most of the fruits of the deal, and got its hands on ailing film studio Filmways, gaining the company's extensive film library, including the near-entire American International Pictures library, as well as many television shows including Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and the Merrill Heatter game shows (including The Hollywood Squares and High Rollers which Orion produced syndicated revivals of in the mid-80s; the rights to the former show are now owned by CBS). By 1983, Orion had not only a full distribution arm and ambitious dreams, but also its own television unit and an arthouse subsidiary known as Orion Classics.

In September of 1984, Orion released Amadeus, the success of which inspired that of numerous other films later on in the decade, putting the studio into the league of success. This inspired Metromedia to take a stake in the company in 1986, then buying it all in 1988. Unfortunately, the next year heralded a number of costly bombs, putting Orion in jeopardy. By 1987, they had also established their own video label, after having gone through other firms (e.g. Warner Home Video, HBO Video and its predecessors, Embassy Home Entertainment, and Vestron Video) for home video releases, while internationally their releases were distributed by Columbia Pictures.

Despite the successes of such films as Dances with Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs (which won back to back Academy Awards for Best Picture), Orion was losing money. With cash running low, it had no choice but to declare bankruptcy at the end of 1991. Studios like New Line Cinema, ABC, and Republic Pictures were interested in buying the floundering studio, but nothing came of it (ABC instead bought what remained of their TV division).

While the company finally got out of bankruptcy by 1996, the damage had been done. Only a select few Orion releases came out afterwards, as Metromedia instead chose to focus on the newly acquired Samuel Goldwyn Company.

The final nail in Orion's coffin came in 1997, when Metromedia's filmed entertainment properties were bought out by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While sister studio The Samuel Goldwyn Company got to stay around for a few more years before being replaced by Samuel Goldwyn Films independently of MGM, Orion's second chance wouldn't come until 2013. Its first show as a television production unit was Paternity Court, a syndicated courtroom show that's become a decent ratings success, at least enough to justify not only its continued existence, but also led MGM to revive the brand in 2014 as a specialty and genre film division. It also exists as a copyright name under which to organize its films, as well as those of certain other companies whose libraries MGM has bought out over the years, such as Hemdale and most of the Polygram Filmed Entertainment library.
Films released by Orion Pictures: