Creator: Touchstone Pictures
is a label (or "banner" in Disney-speak) created and owned by The Walt Disney Company
which releases films aimed for more mature audiences than the Disney branded fare.
Since 1979, when they released The Black Hole
, Disney had begun making numerous PG-rated adult and teenage-oriented films such as TRON
, Never Cry Wolf
and The Devil and Max Devlin
(the latter two of which caused an media uproar over their subject material in a Disney film) to remain competitive in the market of live action movies. But none of their efforts were commercially successful. It was as if the Disney name was more of a burden than an asset with large segments of potential audiences, as Disney had been for the longest time associated with G-rated family-friendly fare such as Mickey Mouse cartoons and The Love Bug
. Then-CEO Ron Miller (son-in-law of the late Walt Disney
) announced in 1984 the creation of Touchstone Films (as it was then called) as a new label to 1) protect the wholesome family-friendly image of the Disney name and 2) to remain commercially relevant.
Beginning with Splash
, Touchstone soon became Disney's go-to brand for mainstream live-action films that weren't saccharine enough for the Company's flagship brand. At first, Touchstone was by far Disney's most-used brand for theatrical releases (far more so in terms of quantity than the Disney branded stuff), and television productions. Studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg adopted a strategy of "singles and doubles", in essence producing lots of low-cost High Concept
movies which once in a while would turn into great successes. Three Men and a Baby
- the highest grossing movie of 1987 - is a perfect case in point: a remake of a French film, with television actors in the lead roles and filmed in Canada. In 1990 Disney CEO Michael Eisner even created a competing division within Disney - Hollywood Pictures
- which eventually got scaled back towards the end of the decade.
However, with the Pirates of the Caribbean
series (the first film being the first Disney-branded movie to get a PG-13 rating), the once clear distinction between Disney and Touchstone territory began to blur, and Touchstone became more pigeonholed. In 2006 new Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company would be making an effort to focus more heavily on its three main core brands (Disney, ABC
), as well as on major acquired properties (such as Pixar
and The Muppets
, and later Marvel
and Lucasfilm). As consequence in 2007 it was announced that the Disney studio would scale back on the number of live-action films produced, the majority of which would now be Disney-branded.
The arrival of Rich Ross as Dick Cook's replacement as Disney Studios chairman in 2009 was a huge blow to Touchstone. In an effort to streamline the studio and cut back on losses, Ross announced a new business plan: to trim the number of films that Disney distributed to eight a year, and to only make films that the studio knew how to sell. Namely, in terms of live action films this meant either big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer
produced movies or Marvel Cinematic Universe
films (and Star Wars
movies after the company's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm), or lower-budget Disney Channel
-esque films. Most of the films in Touchstone's pipeline were cancelled, including sequels to sleeper hits The Proposal
and Wild Hogs
. The last in-house studio made film released through Touchstone was the 2010 ensemble comedy You Again
, which flopped at the box office.
In 2011, Touchstone saw new life as the distribution label for DreamWorks
' live action films in North America. While the production side has nothing in the pipeline at the moment, there had been interest by new studio chairman Alan Horn (who replaced Rich Ross in 2012 after the latter resigned due to a series of high-profile flops
) of increasing Disney's yearly output and diversifying the types of movies the studio makes.
However, this doesn't seem to be happening. In 2013, as part of Disney's breakup with Jerry Bruckheimer
, Horn admitted that the studio was not interested in reviving Touchstone as a producer (Bruckheimer wanted to head up a new version of the label). Instead, when Disney took over full distribution rights to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
, they chose to distribute them as simply Marvel-branded films, while the Star Wars
sequel trilogy will be released under Disney. Touchstone was then used to distribute Studio Ghibli
's The Wind Rises
. Strange Magic
, having started production by Lucasfilm
when it was acquired by Disney in 2012, is scheduled to be Touchstone's next non-DreamWorks release, and the last for the foreseeable future.
They had their own television unit until 2007, when it was renamed ABC
Studios as part of Iger's above-mentioned company refocusing efforts.
Notable films released by Touchstone Pictures:
- 3 Ninjas
- The 13th Warrior
- Adventures in Babysitting: The first Disney-associated film to get a PG-13 rating.
- Alive: with Paramount.
- Armageddon, a Jerry Bruckheimer production, directed by Michael Bay.
- Baby Secret Of The Lost Legend
- Bicentennial Man with Columbia Pictures.
- Big Business
- Big Trouble
- Bringing Down the House
- Cabin Boy
- Cant Buy Me Love
- A Civil Action, with Paramount.
- Con Air, a Jerry Bruckheimer production.
- Confessions of a Shopaholic, a Jerry Bruckheimer production
- The Color of Money
- Coyote Ugly, a Jerry Bruckheimer production
- Dead Poets Society: Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- Déjà Vu, a Jerry Bruckheimer production
- Dick Tracy
- Down And Out In Beverly Hills: The first ever R rated film from The Walt Disney Company. Also the first film greenlighted by Michael Eisner after becoming Disney CEO.
- Ed Wood
- Enemy of the State, a Jerry Bruckheimer production
- The Ernest P. Worrell films from Ernest Goes to Camp to Ernest Scared Stupid
- Face/Off: with Paramount.
- Father Of The Bride (1991) and Part II
- Flight Plan
- Fire Birds
- Good Morning Vietnam
- Gnomeo and Juliet: Touchstone's first G rated film. Seriously. (It was originally scheduled to be released by Miramax, but it ended up as a Touchstone film after the Weinstein brothers left the company and the Disney animation folks didn't want it to be released under the Disney name.)
- Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), a Jerry Bruckheimer production
- Green Card
- The Guardian
- The Help, co-production with DreamWorks.
- The Horse Whisperer
- The Insider: Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- Its Pat
- King Arthur, a Jerry Bruckheimer production
- Ladder 49
- The Last Song
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
- Lincoln, co-production with DreamWorks.
- Mr. Destiny
- My Father The Hero
- New York Stories
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: During its original release, though in 2006 it was moved to the Disney brand.
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?: with Universal.
- Open Range
- Pearl Harbor, a Jerry Bruckheimer production, directed by Michael Bay.
- The Prestige: with Warner Bros. .
- Pretty Woman: The highest grossing Disney movie in 1990.
- The Recruit
- The Ref
- Reign of Fire
- The Rocketeer: labeled as "Walt Disney Pictures" in North America only, and re-labeled as Touchstone Pictures elsewhere.
- Romy And Michele's High School Reunion
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- Runaway Bride with Paramount.
- Ruthless People
- Shanghai Noon and its sequel Shanghai Knights
- Sister Act 1 and 2
- Splash: Touchstone's first film.
- Stakeout and its sequel Another Stakeout
- Starship Troopers with TriStar Pictures.
- The Step Up series
- Strange Magic (produced by Lucasfilm)
- Three Men and a Baby and its sequel Three Men And A Little Lady
- The Village
- War Horse, co-production with DreamWorks.
- The Waterboy
- The Wind Rises (US release)
- What About Bob?
- What's Love Got To Do With It
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Notable television productions from Touchstone Television: