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Note: This is not to be confused with an earlier company of the same name.

Background

TriStar Pictures (originally spelled "Tri-Star") was formed in 1982 as a joint venture between Columbia Pictures (then owned by the Coca-Cola Company), HBO, and CBS, hence the name of the studio. Originally it was known as "Nova Pictures" until the name was changed on May 16, 1983 in order to avoid confusion with PBS's hit science series NOVA. CBS was the first joint-owner who dropped out venture on November 15, 1985 and sold its interest to Columbia Pictures for $48m. In 1986, HBO sold its shares in Tri-Star to Columbia as well and formed HBO Pictures. On December 21, 1987, Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. was renamed to "Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc." and Coke merged Tri-Star & Columbia to become "Columbia/Tri-Star", of which Coca-Cola owned 80% of its stock. In late 1987, most of Tri-Star's releases were copyrighted under the "Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc." name until mid-1988, when it was reverted back to "Tri-Star Pictures, Inc.", as a new entity with that name was incorporated on April 13. In January 1988, CPE's stocks fell a little and Coke decreased its shares in CPE to 49%. On November 8, 1989, Sony Corporation of Japan acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment for $3.4 billion. On August 7, 1991, under Sony Pictures Entertainment, the hyphen (-) was taken off of the name to refer it to the current CamelCase-style name, "TriStar". Early on, (with a few exceptions), TriStar's films were released on Home Video by either RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video (now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), CBS/FOX/Key Video (now 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), occasionally Vestron Video/Lightning Video (now Lionsgate Home Entertainment), or Thorn-EMI/HBO/Cannon Video (now HBO Video), among other companies. In 1988, following Columbia's buyout of TriStar, Home Video distribution of films produced by the studio moved exclusively to RCA/Columbia. From 1985 until 1994, TriStar also distributed films produced by Carolco Pictures; these were released on the International Video Entertainment and Live Home Video labels (now Lionsgate Home Entertainment), often with TriStar's logo cut. Cliffhanger is the only Carolco film in which the rights were retained by the original distributor.


1st Logo
(April 6, 1984-May 28, 1993)

Nicknames: "The Early Pegasus", "Wobbly Wings", "Jumping Pegasus", "Pegasus Over Pyramid", "'80s Pegasus", "The Quiet/Loud Music", "Majestic Pegasus", "Pegasus Over a Triangle", "From Stallion to Pegasus", "The TriStar Pegasus"

Logo: On a dark blue/purple evening background with pink skies, a splashed white horse that's known as a stallion, gallops into view coming from the left. When it gets really close, three stars coming from the left, right, and bottom of the screen crash into each other, forming a "T" in Didot font (the same font used for the CBS text as CBS was one of the joint owners of Tri-Star until 1985). The stallion grows a pair of wings and flies over the "T". It zooms out, revealing two more letters: "R", and "I", and below it is the word "STAR" reading the stacked words, "TRI STAR". The text continues to zoom out. A yellow outline of a triangle zooms out with the spaced-out word "PICTURES" under it, surrounding the text and the background. As this happens, the triangle outline reveals an abstract drawing of a Pegasus "jumping" over the logo.

Trivia:

  • According to then-TriStar head Victor Kaufman: "One of the advisers in creating the company was Sydney Pollack, who was a famous director and actor, and he helped us put together the logo. The horse for the TriStar logo was the horse from The Electric Horseman, which he directed and made with Robert Redford. And the horse from The Electric Horseman was a dark horse, so he transposed the horse to look white, and put it on the screen, and created a Pegasus and created ... the music and everything ..."
  • According to Elizabeth Kaye McCall's book The Tao of Horses, the Pegasus was played by a white Arabian gelding named "T-Bone," who was trained by Hollywood horse trainer Corky Randall. The Pegasus sequence was filmed at night in an outdoor arena Randall frequently used. T-Bone, powdered to look whiter, was to run in an especially made L-passage flanked by black curtains. When Randall called him, he galloped through it, and jumped over a fence to reach him, creating the desired effect.
  • This logo was spoofed on the Family Guy S4 episode "Petergeist", where it shows Joe Swanson riding his wheelchair instead of the Pegasus, and it says "JOE SWANSON THEATRES" instead of "TRI STAR PICTURES".

Variants:

  • On some movies that are in the 2:35:1 ratio, the triangle and the Pegasus shrink while the jingle plays. On VHS and full-screen DVD releases, they might use the standard animation or use the pan-and-scan version of the zooming Pegasus by
    • (1.) the screen focusing on the Pegasus when it appears and suddenly shifting when it jumps over the "T"
    • (2) the screen following the Pegasus
    • or (3), the screen starting in the middle and the Pegasus appears shortly before it jumps over the "T".
      • On two Carolco movies in the aforementioned format (in this case, shot in Super 35), Deepstar Six and Air America, the standard logo is stretched to fit the ratio.
  • On The Fisher King, a 1.85:1 verson of the shrinking Pegasus was used. Terminator 2: Judgement Day also used this variant in it's 2:35:1 ratio.
  • On many Tri-Star releases in 1985, we can see the white stallion make it half way and start to grow its wings and jump over the "T".
  • The text "A TRI-STAR RELEASE" appears on a black background after the end of the Tri-Star logo. The 1984 theme, which appears to be out of sync in this variant, plays over it as well. Seen originally on earlier films such as Supergirl, and Santa Claus: The Movie. In recent years, it has been removed or plastered over on TV airings and video releases. However, on the U.S.A. Home Video VHS and CED of Supergirl, the standard version is used.
  • On 1991-1993 movie trailers and commercials, the words "TRI STAR" are in white over a black background with a little "Pegasus Over Pyramid" logo in the upper right next to "TRI", while the films themselves used the 1984 logo and the newly-formed TriStar Television did use this for their logo.
  • There was a logo for Producers Sales Organization that began at the end of the Tri-Star logo.
  • The beginning of Tri-Star Showcase has this logo edited, with the horse galloping. When it jumps over the "T", it fades to the preview of the movie.
  • On a TV commercial for Places in the Heart, the pegasus outlining and company name appear bolder.
  • On the VUDU print of Lock-Up, the 2011 StudioCanal logo plays, and after it ends cuts in the middle of the this logo when the Pegasus jumps over the "T".

Closing Variants:

  • May 11, 1984 - September 20, 1991, January 29, 1993: Scrolling in the end credits would have the same exact logo, minus the purple triangle with the gold outline color. Above the logo has the phrase "A TRI-STAR RELEASE". Some films such as The Natural, Johnny Handsome, The Freshman, and Sniper, the "A TriStar (or Tri-Star) Release" phrase is below the logo.
  • Flashpoint has "A TRI-STAR RELEASE" text on the right of the logo.
  • The movie Sweet Dreams, being produced by HBO/Silver Screen Partners, has the text "Presented by HBO Pictures in association with Silver Screen Partners" above the Pegasus-over-Pyramid and the "A TRI-STAR RELEASE" text below. Made in U.S.A (produced by Hemdale) has the text "Released through Tri-Star Pictures".
  • December 11, 1991- October 16, 1992: The closing variant of the still logo from the movie trailers and the 1991 TriStar Television logo, minus the "TELEVISION" rectangular box below "STAR" nor "PICTURES" below the triangle with the phrase "A TRISTAR RELEASE" minus the hyphen between the TriStar name seen above the logo. Sometimes, the rectangular box is seen below the logo, but it lacks the "TELEVISION" text inside it. Starting in late 1992, there is a new version with "RELEASED BY" above the logo and the rectangular box has a Sony Pictures Entertainment byline. This was seen on Wind and Candyman.
  • A black screen with a copyright stamp is seen at the end of The True Story of Glory.
  • On Avalon, a still of the movie logo is seen after the end credits and the Baltimore Pictures logo.
  • A few Carolco films such as Narrow Margin, Jacob's Ladder and L.A. Story only have the print logo.

FX/SFX: The wings growing on the horse, the forming of the "T", the text zooming out.

Cheesy Factor: The wings and mane were drawn and animated frame by frame, which explains why the wings appear suddenly; and the Pegasus doesn't look like it jumps over the gate-like "T", but still the logo looks very well done and is ahead of the others by approximately 10 years.

Music/Sounds: An orchestrated piece done by Dave Grusin. As the horse gallops into view, three low French horn notes play and they repeat. When the Pegasus flies over the "T", more enlightening trumpets play and are combined with the trombone. For the logo formation, a loud trumpet solo is played. Although on some films, such as Birdy, Runaway, Candyman, The Muppets Take Manhattan (The Columbia/TriStar DVD has the fanfare The Hulu and CTHV VHS print are silent), a recent Turner Classic Movies (TCM) broadcast of Places in the Heart, and streaming prints of the theatrical version of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (save for the Director's Cut), among others, the logo is silent. On The Principal and Chaplin, the music begins a few seconds before the logo fades in. Sometimes the theme echoes after the logo ends. Strangely, on the 2004 Lionsgate DVD release of Universal Solider, the fanfare is barely audible, likely due to a printing error.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • On some prints of Rambo: First Blood Part II, the Carolco theme is heard (one TV airing of the movie had the high-tone version of the theme). This also appeared on a 1995 Australian television broadcast of Iron Eagle II. The original domestic print had the standard TriStar fanfare, as this was the version used on HBO early on, starting in 1986.
  • A Chinese bootleg Blu-Ray of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo had this logo with the music from the Cannon logo, probably thanks to sloppy plastering. This also appeared on a French print of The Hitcher (the 1986 version).
  • When TubiTV aired Bat*21, it used a master that preserved this logo, but also contained the MGM lion roar due to poor reverse plastering.

Availability: Common. Can be found on TriStar movies from the '80s and early '90s, particularly The Muppets Take Manhattan, Birdy, Red Heat, Total Recall, Night of the Creeps, Light of Day, Side Out, Air America, The Natural, Jacob's Ladder, Short Circuit 1 & 2, Toy Soldiers (1991), Volunteers (1985), Steel Magnolias, The Running Man, Universal Soldier, The Hitcher (1986), Heaven Help Us, Sweet Dreams, Rad, Hook, Glory, Touch and Go (HBO/Cannon VHS only; it is unknown if it appears on the 1999 Trimark Home Video VHS release), The Monster Squad, Mountains of the Moon (The 1999 Artisan/Pioneer DVD), Head Office, Bat*21 (While it's saved on the Media Home Entertainment VHS, it's absent from the MGM DVD), Q&A (Including the 20th Century Fox DVD from 2003), Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, L.A. Story, the first two Look Who's Talking movies, Labyrinth, and Sniper, among others. This logo made its first appearance on Where the Boys Are '84 as TriStar's first released film and then on The Natural, TriStar's first produced film and officially ended with Cliffhanger. The trailer logo is rare and seen on previews of TriStar films from 1991-1993, such as Bugsy, Candyman, Sniper, Cliffhanger, and Sleepless in Seattle (though the latter uses the next logo on the main feature). The silent version can also be found on the 1999 VHS of The Muppets Take Manhattan. Many video releases of Carolco productions remove this logo, but it's preserved on some films, such as Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, DeepStar Six, Universal Solder, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Basic Instinct, a demo VHS of Red Heat, VUDU and YouTube streaming prints of Homeboy (1988), a PlutoTV airing of Johnny Handsome, (but not on the Blu-Ray release of said film nor Carolco as it only features StudioCanal), current releases of Rambo III, and streaming prints, the 1998 Widescreen LaserDisc release and reportedly, an Encore airing of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, as well as being present on the 2012 UK theatrical re-release of Total Recall. It was also preserved on French VHS releases of Total Recall and Hamlet (1990). This plasters the 1st Carolco logo on recent releases of films like Angel Heart and Extreme Prejudice, and the 2nd logo on Rambo: First Blood Part II (sometimes with the Carolco jingle). Also seen on The Kiss (including the Canadian Astral Video VHS), international prints of Fright Night Part II (including the German Blu-Ray), and on the original MGM/UA Home Video VHS release of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, a Cannon film released by TriStar originally (the current DVD version has it replaced with the 2001 MGM lion, though it was retained on a Chinese bootleg Blu-Ray of the film, strangely with the Cannon jingle intact). The CBS/FOX Home Video VHS release of Places in the Heart removes this logo, while it is retained on the DVD release. It's also retained on Paramount's official YouTube print of Ironweed, being it uses the same master found on the Olive Films DVD and Blu-Ray, and was also intact on the Lionsgate DVD, after the third Vestron Video logo. It may have also been seen on original theatrical prints of the first Silent Night, Deadly Night film, but these particular prints have more than likely been destroyed in the aftermath of that film's controversy and subsequent withdrawal from theaters. Also may be found on theatrical prints of High Spirits and Santa Claus: The Movie; for both films, don't expect this on the Media Home Entertainment VHS releases. For the latter film, there is a small chance it might be restored on the recent DVD and Blu-Ray releases from Lionsgate, and maybe non-American media, but the odds aren't very likely. Strangely, on a couple episodes of the TV series Werewolf, this was used in place of the TriStar Television logo and was even retained on Chiller reruns. It was also retained on VOD prints of Lifeforce, including prints on FEARNet. Don't expect it on the original Vestron Video VHS, the 1997 MGM/UA Movie Time VHS or the 2000 MGM DVD (both of which include the film's international cut), or the U.S. Scream Factory Blu-Ray. It may be intact on the Video Treasures reprint, but the odds aren't likely. It is unknown if this was retained on VHS or DVD releases of Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star, the Scorpion DVD of Where the Boys Are '84 (Don't expect it on the Blu-Ray), Love at Stake, foreign releases of They Live, or High Tide. Don't expect it on VHS releases of Made in U.S.A. Strangely, it is seen on ABC Family/Freeform's airings of Matilda (Instead of the next logo below).

Scare Factor: Low, due to the sudden loud music at the end of the logo. This logo has become a memorable one and a favorite of many.

2nd Logo
(June 25, 1993-August 28, 2015)

Nicknames :"'90s Pegasus", "Ultra Majestic Pegasus", "The TriStar Pegasus II"

Logo: We start out on a black background. Then we see a part of the evening, which slowly fades in and brightens up to reveal a dark background with dark cumulonimbus clouds with a layer of fog on the bottom. A white flash of light at the bottom, that starts to glow and gets bright as it almost fills the screen. A Pegasus appears from far distance spreads its wings out and takes a few steps towards the viewer, causing the fog to flow as the flash dims away slowly. "TRISTAR" in a light shiny gold chiseled bold font slowly fades in above it, on top of the screen with the letters "T" and "S" in a bigger font that the other letters. The Pegasus stops when its wings are fully spread out and the "TRISTAR" text fully appears. The text slowly shines as the fog still flows.

Trivia:

  • This logo was based on a still image Sony had introduced alongside its sister studio Columbia in 1992. The logo was only used for home video and television until a fully animated logo debuted in the summer of 1993.
  • This logo was animated by Intralink Film Graphic Design. The footage of the white stallion was shot in a hangar at the Santa Monica Airport. The wings were done by combining real feathers and digitized computing and were merged with the white stallion's image via computer morphing. The footage of the cloud background was shot from the Haleakala Crater on Maui.

Byline:

  • June 25, 1993-March 12, 1999: (Bylineless)
  • December 15, 1995-Febuary 21, 2014: "a SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT company" (first seen on Jumanji. However, some post-1995 films continued to use the bylineless version until 1999. In 2012, the byline appears smaller and a bit darker, but slighty of centered, like the 1996 Columbia Pictures logo; last used on Pompeii. However, Moms' Night Out and When the Game Stands Tall still used the SPE byline in tandem until August 2015.)
  • April 16, 2014-September 12, 2015:"a Sony Company" (seen on Heaven is for Real, Ricki and the Flash, War Room and the UK theatrical version of The Lady in the Van (The last film to use this logo). In this version, the Sony Pictures Entertainment logo transitions to this logo)

Variants:

  • During this logo's early years, on movie trailers and commercials, when the Pegasus is spreading out its wings, the "TRISTAR" text is fully transparent, rather than fading in as in the regular version. Also, it doesn't shine.
  • On Sleepless in Seattle (the first movie to use this logo), the flash dims away quickly and early before the Pegasus spreads out its wings and the "TRISTAR" text appears.
    • On early VHS releases, the 1993 music replaced the 1984 music
  • In 1998, the logo became enhanced by making the clouds a lighter gold color.
  • In 2007, starting with the infamous Daddy Day Camp, the logo was given a "enhanced" look, with the SPE byline in gold to match the cloud's color.
  • From 2012-February 2014, the SPE byline is smaller and is a bit darker, but not centered.
  • A very early trailer and commercial logo has a black background with the stacked words "TRI STAR" and next to it is the box with the Pegasus in front of the cloud. This can be seen on the trailer for Rudy.
  • Since the 2014 release of Heaven is for Real, the Sony logo now transitions to this logo.

Closing Variants:

  • It's the same current print logo that appeared on movie trailers during its early years, and looking similar to the last print logo. The Pegasus is placed inside a box, with a cloud background overlapping the top. Its wings overlap both ends of the box. Below the logo is the phrase "A TRISTAR RELEASE", or "RELEASED BY" above the logo with the SPE byline underneath. Sometimes, "A TRISTAR RELEASE " isn't there. Sometimes, it's bylineless.
  • One early variant of such featured the boxed Pegasus logo at center, with "TRISTAR PICTURES" (in Bank Gothic MD BT) and the SPE byline below one another. This particular closing variant happened to appear at the end of the features Chaplin and Cliffhanger, which both used the old logo at the beginning, although the latter was the last movie to use the old logo at the beginning; though this may be unsurprising, since both Columbia and TriStar first introduced their new logos for their home video and television divisions a year earlier in 1992. The movie Wilder Napalm has the "A TriStar Release" text above.
  • On films like The Call and Heaven is for Real, the shadows of the Pegasus' wings is removed.
  • Starting with Heaven is for Real, "A TRISTAR PICTURES RELEASE" is now seen underneath with the byline: "a Sony Company".

Cheesy Factor: After the flash dims away and as the Pegasus begins to spread his wings, you can see parts of "TRISTAR" visible on the top of the middle cloud before the chiseled version of the said text fades in.

FX/SFX: The light beam forming the Pegasus, the fog flowing, the text fading in and shining.

Music/Sounds: A more majestic remix of the first jingle, composed by Bill Johnson. Starting with the film Godzilla released in May 20, 1998, the fanfare has been rearranged.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • Early films with this feature this logo with the original 1984 music, such as Sleepless in Seattle, Jury Duty and Magic in the Water.
  • Sometimes, this logo is silent. Other times, there's music from any music soundtrack playing over the logo.
  • On Little Secrets, it is high pitched.

Availability: Common. It debuted on Sleepless in Seattle and was last seen on War Room. Strangely, this logo is seen on 1997 VHS prints of The Craft, MultiplicityMatilda (No Previews version) and Alaska instead of the Columbia TriStar Home Video logo (some prints do have the CTHV logo instead). The Live Home Video release of Wagons East! preserves this logo.

Scare Factor: None to low. This logo is beautiful over the years, although the Pegasus appearing like it might burst through the screen might startle some.

3rd Logo
(September 30, 2015-) 

Tristar
Sony TriStar Pictures (2015, new full version)00:30

Sony TriStar Pictures (2015, new full version)

Nicknames: The TriStar Pegasus lll", "Ultra Majestic Pegasus II", "CGI Pegasus", "Christian Pegasus", "2010s Pegasus"

Logo: We see the clouds of the previous logo, only this time, more improved. Then the clouds brighten and turn into full daylight. Then, we see a pegasus run towards us. He stands up in his hind legs and rises his wings. Once he has done this, the TRISTAR text from the previous logo (only more golden) fades in, then the byline "a Sony Company" fades in after that.

Trivia: This time, this logo was animated at JAMM VFX, Santa Monica, California. Sony commissioned the updated logo to take advantage of new technologies such as 4K and IMAX 3D. 

FX/SFX: The light shining, and the Pegasus running toward us as the night time turns into the daylight, and the texts fading in, as well as the combination of the elements of the 1993 logo and the Pegasus in the 1984 logo. It's all very nice CGI.

Music/Sounds: Same as the previous logo.

Availabilty: Brand new. First seen on the IMAX trailer for The Walk, and will be seen on future films.

Scare Factor: Low. The Pegasus coming at you may startle some, but other than that, it's a great logo and a suitable successor to the previous logo.


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