Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Screen Gems

Go To
And don't ask if the gems are rubies or diamonds. They're emeralds.

Screen Gems is the name of several businesses owned by Sony/Columbia Pictures over the film studio's history.

The original incarnation of Screen Gems was founded in 1940, as an in-house animation unit for Columbia, taking over from the outsourced work from Charles Mintz's studio (though the name dated back to the mid 1920s, as Columbia's slogan of the time, "Gems of the Screen"). It lasted until 1946 (although its product kept coming out as late as 1949). For more information on this era, see Columbia Cartoons.

Columbia wasn't done with the Screen Gems name yet, however. In 1948, two years after the name was stripped of its cartoon studio status, the name went in use as the name for Columbia's television unit. It started off distributing Columbia films on TV, but later began making its own series, such as The Donna Reed Show, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Monkees and The Partridge Family. It also distributed most of the early shows from Hanna-Barbera (most notably The Flintstones). During this time, Screen Gems gave birth to its iconic Vanity Plates. The first came to be known as The Dancing Sticks, a collection of animated straight lines of different colors. The second was the S filmstrip. The version used during this era was notorious for being Nightmare Fuel, giving it the nickname, "The S From Hell".


The big reason for the Screen Gems name being used for Columbia's TV shows was because the then-new novelty had a negative stigma from the then-floundering movie studios, most of which wanted no part in the potentially threatening medium; before Columbia, only Paramount Pictures had actually dipped its toes into the novelty. For that reason, they used a different name to obscure the relationship to the movie studio; 20th Century Fox did a similar thing by calling their TV department "TCF Television Productions, Inc." until 1958. However, by 1974, virtually all of the fear of TV by the studios had been dead for almost two decades, and they had made their own TV production departments (and even before then, one of the logos that predated the "S from Hell" featured the Torch Lady herself, making the link with Columbia very obvious, despite the different name). This meant that the Screen Gems name had little purpose anymore, and Columbia decided it was time to retire the Screen Gems name...


...that was, until 1999. By this point, Columbia had given rise to three additional brand names for film production: TriStar Pictures, Triumph Films, and art-house unit Sony Pictures Classics. Deciding that three brands wasn't enough, the company decided to revive the Screen Gems name for "films that fall between the wide-release movies traditionally developed and distributed by Columbia Pictures and those released by Sony Pictures Classics," mostly of the action/thriller genre. They are essentially Sony/Columbia's answer to Miramax/The Weinstein Company's Dimension Films. Under this new regime, Screen Gems enjoys a healthy lifestyle, releasing several successful films, including the Underworld series and films based on Resident Evil.

Thanks to its successes, it can be assured that the Screen Gems name is back and here to stay.

Notable films released by Screen Gems (for products from the past two eras, see Columbia Cartoons and Columbia Pictures):