Background: Touchstone Pictures (formerly "Touchstone Films") was established by The Walt Disney Company in 1983 to produce and distribute more adult-oriented films. The company is merely a brand, and doesn't operate as a separate company. The company became a dominant force between its establishment in the 1980s to the early 2000s, making several successful films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Three Men and a Baby, Adventures in Babysitting, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Color of Money, and many more films. However, the company suffered a halt in 2009, when two blows were dealt to the company. First, the new Disney chairman Rich Ross trimmed the number of films Disney released in a year to eight. This business plan resulted in planned sequels for Touchstone hits being cancelled, and many more flops to come for Disney in general (he left after the failures of John Carter and Mars Needs Moms); the last Touchstone film released solo, without distributing for others, was You Again. Meanwhile, Disney released it's last attempt at an adult-oriented but family-friendly film, Old Dogs. The film, a box office hit but a massive critical flop, led to Disney getting out of producing such movies in general. After all this, Touchstone began merely distributing films for Lucasfilm, Miramax, and DreamWorks, as well as foreign films and films Disney had no faith in. The critical and commercial failure of Strange Magic seems to be the likely end for the company, as they've only distributed the hit Bridge of Spies since then. As Disney's deal with DreamWorks expired (since they went back to Universal Pictures for distribution), the future of Touchstone remains uncertain. Its last release, The Light Between Oceans, came out in September 2016. Currently no projects have been announced since then.
1st Logo (March 9, 1984)
Nicknames: "Thunderball", "Thunderball of Boredom", "Touchstone Thunderball"
Trivia: The logo was designed by Jerry Kuyper of Landor Associates.
Logo: Just a static logo under a salmon background with the blue text:
T O U C H S T O N E
F I L M S
and a lightning bolt over a blue circle, or a "thunderball".
Availability: Rare. Seen only on its first feature Splash. Some late-80s to mid-90s VHS prints plaster it with the early version of the 3rd logo.
Scare Factor: None.
2nd Logo (September 29, 1984-March 22, 1985)
Nicknames: "Thunderball Shattering Light", "Thunderball II", "Touchstone Thunderball II"
Logo: It starts out on a blue background. The blue color shrinks into a ball on a dark background and zooms out into the upper center portion of the screen. After it heads toward the background, it flashes and turns into the typical thunderball, and the whole background lights up with "TOUCHSTONE FILMS" at the bottom in navy blue text. Essentially, it's an animated version of the last logo.
Variant: On fullscreen versions of Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, as that film was shot in 2.35:1, the logo was squeezed vertically to fit the standard TV aspect ratio, so the circle became an vertical oval.
FX/SFX: Early CGI.
Music/Sounds: A "wind-blowing" sound followed by a "chime" during the flash part of the animation. In other cases, it's silent.
Availability: More common than the previous logo. It appeared on two films, Country and Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. It also appears on their respective DVD & Blu-Ray releases.
Scare Factor: Low. The sound effects used may catch a viewer unaware.
(August 9, 1985-February 7, 2003, October 17, 2003)
Nicknames: "The Snake", "Thunderball III", "Touchstone Thunderball III", "Thunderball Snake"
Logo: On a black background, a blue oblong moves from the right side of the screen to the left. As it shrinks to the left of the screen, the stacked text "TOUCHSTONE PICTURES" slides next to it. After the oblong morphs into a blue ball, the text shines from right to left before hitting the ball. After the text hits the ball, the usual thunderbolt appears on it.
- For the first two years of this logo's use, "FILMS" was seen instead of "PICTURES". The "shining" of the letters is also difficult to see. This version appeared on My Science Project, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Off Beat, Ruthless People, and The Color of Money.
- The positioning of the logo varies. Earlier variants were in the middle; for the rest of the logo's run, it was on the bottom.
Music/Sounds: A tune that begins with synthesized bells, ending in a "twang" when the circle and thunder meet.
- The closing logo is normally silent, but sometimes has the closing theme ending over it.
- Sometimes, it has the opening theme starting over it.
- Some movies, like The Color of Money and The Waterboy, the opening theme starts over it to sync up with the animation.
Availability: Common. Found on many movies produced by the company during this time, and considering its long period of use. Notable films with this logo include Ed Wood, Ernest Scared Stupid, and Double Take among others. This logo wasn't seen at all on Gangs of New York, released on December 20, 2002 and makes a surprise appearance on Veronica Guerin, released on October 17, 2003. It was also seen on the original version of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, though newer prints have it plastered with the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo starting with the 2006 3D re-release.
- Normal: Low to medium. The music may creep out a few, not to mention the dark & ominous nature of the logo.
- Silence and the Opening/Closing Theme: None.
4th Logo (August 2, 2002-September 2, 2016)
Nicknames: "Thunderball IV", "CGI Golden-Light Thunderball", "Touchstone Thunderball IV", "CGI Touchstone Thunderball"
Logo: On a black background, the lightning bolt from the previous logo streaks in. It zooms back onto a 3D sphere. After that, the text
P I C T U R E S
in the style you see here zooms out, at first a shadow then is lit up.
Variants: Sometimes,the logo is tinted blue.
FX/SFX: Great CGI by PictureMill.
Music/Sounds: Same as the previous one but with a single echo-ey synth tune in place of the "twang". Some films use the music from the 3rd Logo. Sometimes the Film's theme or silence is used.
Availability: Seen on all Touchstone releases starting with the debut of Signs in 2002 and beyond in 2003, and also now seen at the start of DreamWorks films that Touchstone distributes, and end of trailers for those films, starting with I Am Number Four. Also seen on an American English version of The Wind Rises.
Scare Factor: Minimal for the silent and film music versions, and low to medium for the version with the 3rd logo's music.