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Touchstone Pictures

Touchstone Pictures
Division of Walt Disney Studios
Industry Film
Founded February 16, 1983
Headquarters 500 S. Buena Vista Street,
Burbank, California
Products Motion pictures
Parent The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)

Touchstone Pictures is an American film production company and one of several film distribution banners of The Walt Disney Studios, owned by The Walt Disney Company. Established on February 16, 1983 by then-Disney CEO Ron W. Miller as Touchstone Films, it typically releases films that feature more mature themes and darker tones than those released under the flagship Walt Disney Pictures label.[1]

Touchstone Pictures is merely a brand, not a distinct business operation, and does not exist as a separate company.[2][3]

Their most commercially successful production partners in later years have been Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Caravan Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Icon Productions, Imagine Entertainment, Mandeville Films, Focus Features, Spyglass Entertainment, and DreamWorks Pictures.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with DreamWorks Pictures by which DreamWorks' productions would be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner over seven years beginning in 2011.[4][5]



Taste for older children had shifted and teens began to shun G-rated films. Due to increased public assumption that Disney films were aimed at children, films produced by the Walt Disney Studios began to falter at the box office as a result.[6] In late 1979, Walt Disney Productions released The Black Hole, a science-fiction movie that was the studio's first production to receive a PG rating (the company, however, had already distributed its first PG-rated film, Take Down—without the Disney moniker visible—almost a year before the release of The Black Hole).[citation needed]

Over the next few years, Disney experimented with more PG-rated fare, such as the 1981 film Condorman.[citation needed] With Disney's 1982 slate of PG-rated films—including the horror-mystery The Watcher in the Woods, the thriller drama Night Crossing, and the science-fiction film Tron—the company lost over $27 million. Tron was considered a potential Star Wars-level success film by the film division. A loss of $33 million was registered by the film division in 1983 with the majority resulting from Something Wicked This Way Comes, a horror-fantasy adaptation of Ray Bradbury's novel. Never Cry Wolf, a 1983 PG release did well as the studio downplayed the film's association with the Disney brand.[6]

Touchstone Films

Touchstone Films was started by then-Disney CEO Ron W. Miller in February 1984 as a label for their PG films with an expected 3 to 4 movies released under the label. Touchstone's first film was Splash, a huge hit for grossing $68 million at the domestic box office was released that year.[6][7][8] Incoming Disney CEO Michael Eisner and film chief Jeffrey Katzenberg considered renaming the label to Hollywood Pictures.[9]

Following in 1985, Down and Out in Beverly Hills was another early success for Touchstone. Allowing the momentum to increase with additional films with Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), Tin Men (1987), and other top movies.[7]

Touchstone Pictures

Touchstone Films was renamed Touchstone Pictures after the film Ruthless People in 1986.[citation needed] With the Touchstone movies, Disney moved to the top of box office receipts beating out all the major film studios by 1988.[7] In April 1988, Touchstone became a unit of Walt Disney Pictures with newly appointed president Ricardo Mestres.[10]

On October 23, 1990, The Walt Disney Company formed Touchwood Pacific Partners I to supplant the Silver Screen Partnership series as their movie studios' primary funding source.[11]

With several production companies getting out of film production or closing shop by December 1988, the Walt Disney Studios announced the formation of the Hollywood Pictures division, which would only share marketing and distribution with Touchstone, to fill the void. Mestres was appointed president of Hollywood.[9]


Following the success of the Disney-branded PG-13 rated Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003, and other films that in the 1980s and '90s would have been assigned to the Touchstone (or Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films) label, Disney has decided to weigh distribution of films more toward Disney-branded films and away from Touchstone Pictures, though not entirely disbanding them as it is continues to regularly employ the Touchstone label for R and most PG-13 rated fare.[12]

In 2006, Disney limited Touchstone's output in favor of Walt Disney Pictures titles due to an increase in film industry costs.[13] Disney revived Touchstone in 2009 to serve as a distribution label for DreamWorks Studios' films.[5][14] Following Disney's decision not to renew their long-standing deal with Jerry Bruckheimer Films in 2013, producer Jerry Bruckheimer revealed that he insisted on revitalizing the Touchstone label for production. Disney was uninterested, with studio chairman Alan Horn admitting that Touchstone's production output had been reduced to DreamWorks' films.[15] In addition to DreamWorks' films, Touchstone has also released non Disney-branded animated films such as Gnomeo & Juliet, The Wind Rises and Strange Magic.[16]

Notable films

Some well-known Touchstone Pictures releases include Beaches, Splash, The Color of Money, Ernest Goes to Camp, Adventures in Babysitting, Good Morning, Vietnam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Dead Poets Society, Pretty Woman, Dick Tracy, Sister Act, When a Man Loves a Woman, Rushmore, The Insider, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Prestige, The Proposal, The Help, War Horse, and Lincoln. Its highest-grossing film release is Armageddon. Although animated films are primarily released by Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone's animated releases include the original theatrical release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gnomeo & Juliet, The Wind Rises, and Strange Magic. Five Touchstone films have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture; Dead Poets Society, The Insider, The Help, War Horse, and Lincoln.

Through Touchstone, Disney's first R-rated film, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, came in January 31, 1986 and was a large box-office success. Ruthless People followed in June 27, 1986 and was also very successful. Both of these pictures starred Bette Midler, who had signed a six-picture deal with Disney and became a major film star again with these hits as well as Beaches and Outrageous Fortune.

One of the key producers behind Touchstone films has been producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who had a production deal with Disney from 1993 to 2014.[17][18] His Touchstone titles include The Ref, Con Air, Enemy of the State, Gone in 60 Seconds, Coyote Ugly, Pearl Harbor, Bad Company, Veronica Guerin, King Arthur and Déjà Vu. In addition, Bruckheimer has also produced several other films released under the Disney and Hollywood labels.


Releases from Touchstone Pictures are distributed theatrically by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and through home media platforms via Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (branded as "Touchstone Home Entertainment").

Related units

Touchstone Television

Main article: ABC Studios

Disney's former non-Disney branded television division Touchstone Television Productions, LLC (formerly known as Touchstone Films Television Division, Touchstone Films Television, Touchstone Pictures Television and Touchstone Pictures and Television [itself an alternate version of the Walt Disney Television names] and later Touchstone Television) is known for being the production company of the series The Golden Girls, Blossom, Boy Meets World (all three began before Disney's ABC acquisition), My Wife and Kids, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and Scrubs.

On February 8, 2007 at the Disney Investor Conference, then-Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney, announced that they would rebrand Touchstone Television to ABC Television Studio in order to tie its successful productions more closely with the ABC brand. The announcement was made as part of a company-wide strategy to focus on three core brands, Disney, ABC and ESPN.[19] In May 2007, the television production company yet again changed its name, this time to ABC Studios.

Touchstone Games

By the end of 2007, Disney's video game subsidiary Buena Vista Games began to produce material under its own Touchstone imprint. As is the case with its motion picture and television counterparts, Touchstone Games merely acts as a label/imprint of Disney Interactive and not its own entity. The first such release was the Turok video game in 2008.

See also


  1. ^ Deitchman, Beth (March 7, 2014). "It’s Been 30 Years Since Touchstone Pictures’ Splash-y Debut". Disney D23. Retrieved August 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ Letter signed by Thomas O. Staggs (Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, The Walt Disney Company) to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, March 1, 2007. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
  3. ^ The Walt Disney Company SEC filing Form 10-K For the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2006, page 15
  4. ^ "The Walt Disney Company: 2011 Annual Financial Report" (PDF). The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved December 30, 2012.  Page 12
  5. ^ a b Variety: Disney signs deal with DreamWorks; Company will handle distribution for films, Variety, February 9, 2009
  6. ^ a b c Harmetz, Aljean (February 16, 1984). "Touchstone Label to Replace Disney Name on Some Films". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Walt Disney Company History". Company Profiles. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ 1984 Yearly Chart for Domestic Grosses at, Retrieved on May 25, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Harmetz, Aljean (December 2, 1988). "COMPANY NEWS; Disney Expansion Set; Film Output to Double". New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  10. ^ "People: Los Angeles County". Los Angeles Times. April 13, 1988. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Disney, Japan Investors Join in Partnership : Movies: Group will become main source of finance for all live-action films at the company's three studios.". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 23, 1990. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  12. ^ The Walt Disney Company SEC filing Form 10-K For the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2006, page 15
  13. ^ Brooks, Barnes; Michael Cieply. "Disney and DreamWorks form partnership". The New York Times. Retrieved November 3, 2013. 
  14. ^ Barnes, Brooks; Michael Cieply (February 9, 2009). "DreamWorks and Disney Agree to a Distribution Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved September 29, 2013. 
  15. ^ Masters, Kim (September 19, 2013). "Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer to Split in 2014". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2013. 
  16. ^ Butler, Karen (November 11, 2014). "Lucasfilm's animated 'Strange Magic' set for Jan. 23 release". UPI. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  17. ^ Miller, Daniel (September 19, 2013). "Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer to end longtime partnership". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 20, 2013. 
  18. ^ Lev, Michael (January 18, 1991, Friday), 2 Top Movie Producers Sign Disney Accord, The New York Times Financial Desk. Late Edition – Final, Section D, Page 3, Column 1, 286 words
  19. ^ The Walt Disney Company News Release, "Disney-ABC Television Group Renames Television Studio". Retrieved on May 25, 2007

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