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Vestron Video

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Vestron Video was the main subsidiary of Vestron, Inc., a home video company based in Stamford, Connecticut that was active from 1982 to 1992. It is considered to have been a pioneer in the home video market.

Vestron was founded in 1981 by Austin O. Furst, an executive at HBO, who was hired to dismantle some assets of Time-Life: its theatrical, television, and home video divisions. Although he had no problem selling off the former two assets, Furst was having a hard time selling off the latter, and eventually decided to keep and rename the video division. Furst's daughter suggested "Vestron", named after the Roman goddess Vesta and "Tron", which means "instrument" in Greek.

The company held on to its Time-Life Video library, and was also responsible for releases on VHS videocassette of mostly B movies and films from Cannon Films' library. The most notable titles Vestron released were Dirty Dancing, Monster Squad, and An American Werewolf in London. In later years, the company began to shift towards mainstream films, including films released through their Vestron Pictures subsidiary, most notably Dirty Dancing. The company was the first company to release National Geographic videos in the late 1980s, and was the first to market with a pro wrestling video, "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Presents Lords of the Ring".

Vestron, Inc.'s subsidiaries included:

  • Vestron Video (1982-1992)
  • Vestron Pictures (1987-1992)
  • Vestron Music Video
  • Vestron International Group
  • Vestron Video International (1987-1991)
  • Children's Video Library (1983-1987)
  • Lightning Video (1985-1990)
  • Lightning Pictures (1987-1989)

Vestron went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1985 with what was at the time a large market cap IPO of $440MM, which was oversubscribed. The company enjoyed success for several years, at one point exceeding 10% of the US video movie market. At its high point sales approximated $350MM annually, and the company sold video movies in over 30 countries either directly or through sub licensing agreements. This was basically a rights business, built by some insightful people who appreciated the video rights to films before the major studios did. Eventually the major studios smartened up, and film product became increasingly harder for Vestron to acquire. Also, independent producers increased the price of those available.

The company started to make its own films , but when the market's preferences matured and shifted from watching almost any film to just watching "A" titles, for which the majors had a stronghold, the company was committed already with a pipeline of about 20 "B" to low "A" projects. Financing for the company fell through and it eventually filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, and was bought out on January 11, 1991 by Los Angeles-based LIVE Entertainment, a home video and music company, for $27.3 million. LIVE acquired Vestron's extensive film library.

Their international divisions were the second largest just after Warner Brothers. It had many direct theatrical, video and TV distribution offices all around the world in major markets and owned a video manufacturing plant in the Netherlands to supply European markets. Today, most of the holdings of Vestron Video are now owned by Lionsgate.


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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Vestron Video", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.