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Carolco Pictures, Inc., Carolco International N.V., or Anabasis Investments was an independent production company, that within a decade went from producing such blockbuster successes as Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the Rambo series to being made bankrupt by bombs such as Cutthroat Island and Showgirls before being revived as a unit of C2 Pictures.

HistoryEdit

The company was founded by two film investors, Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna, as Anabasis Investments. Their goal was to make their new studio a major independent production company producing A-movie product. Their earliest films were co-produced with Canadian theater magnate Garth Drabinsky.

Jose Menendez was a member of the Board of Directors of Carolco in August 1989, when he and his wife were murdered by their sons Lyle and Erik Menendez.

One of the first Anabasis/Carolco films was First Blood (1982), followed by the sequel Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) (released the year it was renamed Carolco) with Sylvester Stallone (who later signed a ten-picture deal with the studio). The release of Rambo: First Blood Part II was so instrumental to Carolco's financial success that from then on, the music of the company's logo utilizes the first stanza of its famous score, written by Jerry Goldsmith.

Also in 1985, Carolco started a distribution deal with then-fledging production company TriStar Pictures. TriStar released a majority of Carolco's films from that point on (but not all) in the U.S. and some international countries until 1994.

In 1990, Carolco went on to acquire the rights to the Terminator franchise from Hemdale Film Corporation. The company re-hired Terminator director James Cameron (who had also worked as a screenwriter on Rambo), and Arnold Schwarzenegger to star, in a multi-million-dollar budgeted sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (released in 1991). It was the highest-grossing film of its year, and as it turned out, the most successful film in Carolco's history.

After selling his partnership with Kassar, Vajna created a sister studio to Carolco, Cinergi Pictures, in 1992. Cinergi started to release films from The Walt Disney Company through Hollywood Pictures and Touchstone Pictures.

In later years, Carolco acquired television syndicator Orbis Communications and initiated television production and distribution. They also purchased the former De Laurentiis Entertainment Group production facility in North Carolina (where the television series Matlock was partially filmed), and established a home video division (with LIVE Entertainment, later Artisan Entertainment and Lions Gate Home Entertainment, as output partner).

Carolco struggled for some years to secure the rights to Spider-Man, a property that James Cameron was keen to produce as a film. Plans fell through, although it would eventually be made as a Sam Raimi film for Columbia Pictures.

As budgets for their feature films grew, the box-office intake fell. Following the disastrous releases of Cutthroat Island and Showgirls in 1995, Carolco went bankrupt and the company closed soon after. Following a failed bid by 20th Century Fox to purchase the company, it was folded into StudioCanal, which used it as a shell company to produce adaptations of manga and anime from the Hitotsubashi Group and their Viz Media subsidiary. In 2003, StudioCanal picked up a 10-year first-run contract for new Toei Animation properties outside of Japan; Pretty Cure was one of the first under this new contract, with the Carolco name being used for all properties released in North America under the contract. Under the Carolco name, StudioCanal would also co-produce adaptations of the Digimon and Pretty Cure franchise with Walt Disney Pictures.

On December 17, 2008, Viz Media announced that on April 1, 2009, their current rights to the Pokémon franchise would revert to Carolco. Interestingly, the company that distributes the majority of Carolco's pre-1996 library, Lionsgate, distributed the Pokémon movies in theatres in association with C2 Pictures, Carolco's parent company, and (for the ninth and tenth movie) Universal Pictures from the eighth movie to the tenth. Viz Media would still retain certain rights to the franchise, including international distribution rights for the anime outside of North America, and their logo still appears on the packaging of Carolco's releases to this day.

After 15 years as a shell company for StudioCanal, Carolco was purchased by Brick Top Entertainment in January 2015; Kassar, who up until that point had been the puppet leader of the studio under StudioCanal, passed the baton to Alex Bafer but will still work with Carolco. Among the first properties to be developed under Bafer are an American remake of Takashi Miike's Audition, produced by Kassar, as well as redubbed versions of Pokémon: Adventures in the Orange Islands (in association with Disney Character Voices International, The Pokémon Company Inc., Viz Media, and STUDIOPOLIS) and Digimon Adventure 02 (in association with Disney Character Voices International, Saban Brands, and Orion Television) and the English dub of Go Princess Pretty Cure (in association with Orion Television and ABC Studios).

Carolco's pre-1996 library todayEdit

The assets of Carolco were later sold off to other companies, most already sold during Carolco's existence. Today, the ancillary rights to a majority of Carolco's pre-1996 library are held by French production company StudioCanal, while CBS Paramount Television (through CBS Television Distribution) holds the television rights (inherited from Spelling Entertainment's Worldvision Enterprises), except for Cliffhanger, which Sony Pictures Television distributes.

Lionsgate continues to hold the U.S./Canadian home video rights (via a new output deal with StudioCanal), while the international home video rights are held by a different company for each country. For example, the UK rights are with Momentum Pictures (a subsidiary of Alliance Atlantis) and the Australian rights rest with Universal Studios. Also, Lionsgate spun off its Canadian distribution arm as Maple Pictures in 2005, hence the Canadian video rights rest with Maple.

The only Carolco films not included in the deal are Cliffhanger, Aces: Iron Eagle III, Last of the Dogmen, Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo, and Showgirls; the rights to these have been retained by their original theatrical distributors (TriStar Pictures, New Line Cinema, Savoy Pictures/HBO, Streamline Pictures, and United Artists, respectively). However, Lionsgate does own some ancillary rights to the original Stargate, and full rights to Wagons East.

In 2005, Walt Disney Pictures picked up theatrical rights to Terminator 2: Judgment Day and simultaneously released the original theatrical version in IMAX and a new edited 3-D version sourced from the Extended Special Edition in Real D in 2007. They released the 3-D version on home video that summer under license from StudioCanal and Lionsgate, the latter which still releases the 2-D versions on home video.

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External linksEdit

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