TriStar Pictures: Difference between revisions

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[[Category:Logos made by JAMM Visual]]
[[Category:Logos made by JAMM Visual]]
[[Category:Logos with music by Dave Grusin]]
[[Category:Logos with music by Dave Grusin]]
[[Category:Logos with music by Bill Johnson]]

Revision as of 10:35, 1 February 2024


TriStar Pictures, Inc. (originally spelled Tri-Star) was formed on March 2, 1982 as a joint venture between Columbia Pictures (then owned by The Coca-Cola Company), HBO and CBS, hence the name of the studio. It was originally known as Nova Pictures until May 16, 1983, when its name was changed in order to avoid confusion with the PBS series Nova. CBS was the first joint-owner who dropped out of the venture on November 15, 1985, and sold its interest to Columbia for $48 million. 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 Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc. The Coca-Cola Company merged Tri-Star and Columbia to become "Columbia/Tri-Star", of which it owned 80% of its stock. In late 1987, most of Tri-Star's releases were copyrighted under the "Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc." name until April 13, 1988, when it was reverted back to Tri-Star Pictures, Inc. In January 1988, CPE's stocks somewhat fell, and Coca-Cola decreased its shares in CPE to 49%. On November 8, 1989, Sony of Japan acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment for $3.4 billion. On August 7, 1991, under Sony Pictures Entertainment, the hyphen was officially removed from the name of TriStar Pictures.

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 Studios Home Entertainment), occasionally Vestron Video/Lightning Video (now Lionsgate Home Entertainment), or Thorn-EMI/HBO/Cannon Video/HBO Video (now HBO Home Entertainment), among others. In 1988, following Columbia's buyout of TriStar, home video distribution of its films moved exclusively to RCA/Columbia. From 1985 to 1994, TriStar also distributed films produced by Carolco Pictures in the US and select international regions, which 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. The Taft Entertainment films that TriStar released (such as The Monster Squad and The Running Man) were acquired by Paramount Pictures after Taft merged into Republic and then Viacom. International distribution rights to TriStar's titles were previously handled by Columbia-Warner Distributors (a partnership between Columbia and Warner Bros.) until it was absorbed into Columbia Tri-Star Films in 1988.

1st Logo (April 6, 1984-May 20, 1993)

Visuals: On a dark blue/purple evening background with a pink sky, a splashed white stallion gallops into view from the left. When it gets closer to the camera, three stars coming from the left, right and bottom of the screen crash into each other, forming a "T" in the Didot font (the same font used for CBS' logo, as CBS was one of the joint owners of Tri-Star until 1985). The stallion suddenly grows a pair of wings (if viewed in HD, the wings noticeably appear on the stallion out of thin air) and "flies" over the "T". It zooms out, revealing the stacked words "TRI STAR". The text continues to zoom out. A golden 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.


  • 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 "T-Bone", a white Arabian gelding who was trained by Hollywood horse trainer Corky Randall. The Pegasus sequence was filmed at night in an outdoor arena that 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.


  • On films shot in 2.35:1 (anamorphic Panavision), the triangle and Pegsaus zoom out further to accommodate the wider ratio. VHS and fullscreen DVD releases may use either the full image or the pan-and-scan version of the zooming Pegsaus through one of the following methods:
    • Focusing on the Pegasus when it appears and suddenly shifting when it jumps over the "T".
    • The screen following the Pegasus.
    • The screen starting in the middle and the Pegasus appearing shortly before it jumps over the "T".
    • On Deepstar Six and Air America, two Carolco movies in the aforementioned format (specifically in this case, Super 35), the standard logo is stretched to fit the ratio.
  • On Iron Eagle and The Fisher King, a 1.85:1 version of the shrinking Pegasus was used. A cropped 2.35:1 version was used on Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
    • An open matte version, which shows more of the top but crops out some of the sides, appears only on the 4:3 version of The Fisher King. Iron Eagle used the full image in its 4:3 version, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day never had a known 4:3 release with the TriStar logo.
  • Some anamorphic Scope films such as The Bear use the full image in their 4:3 versions. This was also used on early 4:3 prints of Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, Music Box, and Narrow Margin whenever this logo was preserved.
  • An additional variant exists where 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. This was seen on an HBO airing of Santa Claus: The Movie from December 24, 1986.
  • On trailers and TV spots from 1991 to 1993, the words "TRI STAR" appear in white over a black background with a small "Pegasus Over Pyramid" logo in the upper right next to "TRI" (the films themselves used the 1984 logo and the newly-formed TriStar Television did use this for their logo). However, an animated version exists with the TriStar text scrolling through space and the Pegasus and pyramid scrolling back in their place. It was seen on a video showing Sony Pictures Entertainment's plans for Culver City. It is unknown whether or not it was an abandoned attempt for a new theatrical logo or was made solely for promotional purposes.
  • There was a logo for Producers Sales Organization that began at the end of the Tri-Star logo.
  • The intro 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 spot 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, it cuts to the middle of the TriStar logo when the Pegasus jumps over the "T".
  • On the Blu-ray release of Short Circuit, the background color appears to be washed out.

Closing Variants:

  • May 11, 1984-September 20, 1991, January 29, 1993: Scrolling in the end credits is the same exact logo, minus the purple triangle with the gold outline color. Above it is the text "A TRI-STAR RELEASE". On some films such as The Natural, Johnny Handsome, The Freshman, and Sniper, the text "A TriStar (or Tri-Star) Release" appears below the logo. Flashpoint has the "A TRI-STAR RELEASE" text on the right of the logo. Sweet Dreams, produced by HBO in association with Silver Screen Partners, has the text "Presented by HBO Pictures in association with Silver Screen Partners" above the Pegasus logo 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 trailers and the 1991 TriStar Television logo, minus the "TELEVISION" box below "STAR" nor "PICTURES" below the triangle with "A TRISTAR RELEASE" above. Sometimes, the rectangular box is seen below the logo, but lacks the "TELEVISION" text. Starting in late 1992, there is a new version with "RELEASED BY" above the logo and a box with a Sony Pictures Entertainment byline. This was seen on Wind and Candyman (1992).
  • At the end of Avalon, a still version of the opening logo is seen.
  • On a few Carolco films such as Narrow Margin, Jacob's Ladder and L.A. Story, it lacks the "A Tri-Star Release" text as it just has the print logo.
  • Sometimes, on TV airings, the closing logo may be kept with the Sony Pictures Television (formerly the Columbia TriStar Television Distribution logo) following afterwards or may be skipped ahead with the SPT/CTTD logo.

Technique: A mix of live-action, cel animation, and CGI by R/Greenberg Associates.

Audio: An orchestral piece by Dave Grusin. As the horse gallops into view, three low French horn notes play and repeat. When the Pegasus flies over the "T", more enlightening trumpets play and are combined with the trombone. For the logo formation, a proud brass fanfare is heard.

Audio Trivia: The fanfare was credited during the end of Look Who's Talking Too.

Audio Variants:

  • On some films such as Birdy, Candyman (1992), The Muppets Take Manhattan (the Columbia/TriStar DVD has the fanfare, while the Hulu, CTHV VHS print and a February 11, 2023 Film4 UK airing use the silent version), a recent TCM broadcast of Places in the Heart (also on the Columbia/TriStar DVD of said film), and the original theatrical release and some streaming prints of the theatrical version of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) (save for the Director's Cut), the logo is silent.
  • On The Principal and Chaplin, the music begins a few seconds before the logo fades in.
  • Sometimes, the 1984 fanfare has extra reverb after it ends.
  • Strangely, on the 2004 Lionsgate DVD release of Universal Solider (1992), the 1984 fanfare is barely audible, likely due to a printing error.
  • On some prints of Rambo: First Blood Part II (beginning with the 2002 Artisan VHS and DVD release) and other Carolco films, the Carolco theme is heard (one TV airing of the movie had a higher-pitched version of the fanfare). This also appeared on a 1995 Australian television broadcast of Iron Eagle II (with the 1988 theme), likely due to poor plastering. The original domestic print had the standard TriStar fanfare, as this was the version used on HBO early on, starting in 1986.
  • On the U.S. Scream Factory Blu-ray print of Lifeforce (1985), the 1984 fanfare plays in a lower pitch.
  • A French print of the 1986 version of The Hitcher had this logo with the music from the Cannon Films logo, probably thanks to sloppy plastering.
  • TubiTV's print of Bat*21 (1988) uses a master that preserved this logo but also features the 1995 MGM lion roar due to a reverse plastering error.
  • Current TV prints of Matilda (1996), which airs on some channels, such as TBS and Freeform in the U.S., YTV and Disney Channel in Canada, Disney Channel in Latin America and Seven Network in Australia for example and feature this logo under strange circumstances, uses the 1993 fanfare instead of the 1984 fanfare, like Disney Channel airings in Latin America for example, due to a reverse plastering error.
  • On StudioCanal prints of Red Heat (1988), the TriStar logo plays in double high tone. If one listens closely, the PAL tone is briefly heard before going to the double high tone pitch.


  • Can be found on TriStar films from 1984 through 1993.
  • This logo made its first appearance on Where the Boys Are '84 (released on April 6, 1984), and made its final appearance on Cliffhanger (released on May 20, 1993).
  • Strangely, this logo also replaces the 1993 logo on certain TV airings and prints of Matilda (1996), including TBS and Freeform in the US, YTV and Disney Channel in Canada, Disney Channel in Latin America, which sometimes uses the 1993 music over the 1984 logo, like Disney Channel airings in Latin America for example, likely due to reverse plastering.
  • Many video and international theatrical releases of Carolco productions remove this logo, but it's preserved on some films.
  • 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, this won't show up on current releases.
    • However, it was preserved on HBO airings of Santa Claus: The Movie from the late-1980s (including a Christmas Eve 1986 broadcast), among other possible premium cable prints.
  • Strangely, on a couple episodes of the TV series Werewolf, this was used in place of the TriStar Television logo, and was also even retained on Chiller reruns, CTV Throwback prints, and DVD releases.
  • It was also retained on some prints of the theatrical version of Lifeforce, including prints on now-defunct FEARNet, and surprisingly, the original UK VHS release from Guild and the U.S. Scream Factory 4K UHD Blu-ray release (the latter after the MGM lion).
  • It's also retained on the Scream Factory Blu-ray release of Candyman (with the 1997 Universal Pictures logo preceding it).
  • It is unknown whether international theatrical prints of Flight of the Navigator, which TriStar distributed on behalf of Producers Sales Organization outside of North America, used this logo.
  • It may also have possibly been seen on certain international theatrical prints of Wes Craven's Shocker, Field of Dreams, and Hamlet (1990), with Carolco preceding it.
  • The trailer logo is seen on previews of TriStar films from 1991-1993, such as Bugsy, Candyman, Sniper, Cliffhanger, and Sleepless in Seattle (the latter uses the next logo on the main feature, which used the 1984 fanfare, while VHS prints used the 1993 fanfare).

Legacy: This logo's innovative animation and majestic fanfare have made it one of the most iconic film logos of the 1980s.

2nd Logo (June 25, 1993-September 12, 2015)

Behind-the-scenes photographs courtesy of John Callas

Visuals: The logo starts out on a black background. Then a dark background, initially partially shown, slowly fades in and brightens to reveal that it is made up of dark cumulonimbus clouds with fog on the bottom (similar to the ones from the Columbia Pictures logo). A white flash of light then starts to glow and gets bright, as it almost fills the background. A Pegasus appears from the far distance, as it spreads its wings out and takes a few steps, causing the fog to flow. "TRISTAR", in a shiny chiseled font, slowly fades in at the top of the screen with the letters "T" and "S" in a bigger font than the other letters as the flash dims away slowly. 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 and the company byline fades in (described below).


  • This logo was based on a still image Sony had introduced alongside its sister studio Columbia on March 2, 1992. The logo was only used for home video and television until a fully animated logo debuted in the summer of 1993.
  • 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 cloud background was a large model shot in a studio.
  • This logo was apparently animated in 2.20:1, as even open matte presentations have this logo cropped on both sides.
  • The logo bears an intentional resemblance to the Columbia logo introduced around the same period. This is done to reinforce the connection between the two studios.
  • This logo was directed by John Callas, and behind-the-scenes stills of the logo (including alternate lighting of the cloud background and close-ups of the horse) can be seen on his Facebook account.


  • June 25, 1993-March 12, 1999: (Bylineless)
  • December 15, 1995-February 21, 2014: "a SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT company" (first seen on Jumanji, the byline is blue on its first appearance, but starting with Mary Reilly, released on February 23, 1996, the byline is bright yellow or white). However, some post-1995 films continued to use the bylineless version until 1999. Starting with Sparkle on August 17, 2012, the byline appears smaller and a bit darker, but slightly off-centered like in the 1996 Columbia logo. This byline was last used on Pompeii, however, Moms' Night Out and When the Game Stands Tall still used this byline in tandem with the one below until August 2015.
  • April 16, 2014-September 12, 2015: "a Sony Company" (seen on Heaven is for Real, Ricki and the Flash, War Room (the logo's final domestic appearance), and the UK theatrical version of The Lady in the Van (the last film overall to use this logo)). In this version, the Sony logo transitions to this logo.


  • During this logo's early years, on movie trailers and commercials, when the Pegasus is spreading out its wings, the "TRISTAR" text is fully solid, rather than transparently 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 earlier before the Pegasus spreads out its wings and the "TRISTAR" text appears.
  • The brightness of the clouds and the color of the byline vary depending on the film.
  • In 2007, starting with Daddy Day Camp, the logo is given an "enhanced" look with the "a SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT company" byline in gold, to match the clouds' color.

Closing Variants:

  • The Pegasus is placed inside the same box from the Columbia Pictures print logo introduced around the same time. Its wings overlap both ends of the box. The "TRI STAR" text from the previous logo is placed next to it, with "TRI" spaced out to fit the full width of "STAR". 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 appears at the end of the features Chaplin and Cliffhanger, which both used the 1984 logo at the beginning and were produced by Carolco; the former 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 also uses this, but with the "A TriStar Release" text above.
  • Starting with Heaven is for Real, the Pegasus' wings have the shadows removed, and "A TRISTAR PICTURES RELEASE" is now seen underneath with the byline "a Sony Company". Sometimes, the shadows are still intact.
  • After the end credits of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, the opening logo is static, and in black-and-white.
  • On a 2010 TBS airing of My Best Friend's Wedding, the TriStar text is written in the same font as the preceding Zucker Brothers Productions logo.

Technique: A combination of live-action film (the Pegasus and cloud background, both filmed separately) and CGI (the light beam, wings, text, and fog), done by Intralink Film Graphic Design.

Audio: A majestic arrangement of the last logo's fanfare, this time composed by Bill Johnson. It starts with an ascending and descending back-and-forth piano glissando, followed by a two-note descending xylophone tune, on the last note, the same six opening notes from the last logo begin. Between the third and fourth notes, there is a delay filled with a four-note tuba tune. The music rises in intensity as we hear more and more instruments come in (including brass instruments and drums), ending in a very majestic fanfare.

Audio Variants:

  • Starting with The Big Hit, released on April 24, 1998, the fanfare has been rearranged. This fanfare plasters the original version on the original DVD release of Desperate Measures.
  • Sometimes, this logo is silent (found on international prints of Fortress 2: Re-Entry and Cowboy Bebop: The Movie). Other times, the opening theme of the movie plays over the logo.
  • On earlier films with this logo, such as Jury Duty and some prints (such as the 1997 and 1999 DVD releases) of Sleepless in Seattle, the 1984 fanfare is used.
  • On the DVD releases, the BYUtv airing, and Pluto TV prints of Little Secrets, the fanfare is in double high tone. The Spanish track on the 2003 DVD release, however, retains the normal tone of the logo's fanfare.


  • Can be found on TriStar films from 1993 to 2015.
  • The logo made its first appearance on Sleepless in Seattle, and made its final appearance on The Lady in the Van.
  • The version with the SPE byline made its debut on Jumanji and would used on most subsequent releases.
  • This logo was also used, for some reason, as a de-facto home video logo on 1997 VHS copies of The Craft, Multiplicity, Alaska, and Fly Away Home (all of which were released and/or distributed by Columbia Pictures; Alaska was also produced by Castle Rock Entertainment) instead of the Columbia TriStar Home Video logo (some prints of these tapes do have the CTHV logo instead).
  • This is also preserved on the Live Home Video VHS, DVD and laserdisc releases of Wagons East! (which was the last Carolco film distributed by TriStar Pictures).
  • Seen on international printings and US video releases of Faster.
  • The silent version makes a surprise appearance at the start of Sony's PAL DVD release of Wes Craven's Shocker (1989) before the Universal Pictures logo. Despite Carolco having international rights, Sony released the film on DVD internationally in the mid-2000s before StudioCanal eventually regained the home video rights.

Legacy: This logo was praised for its effects and fanfare.

3rd Logo (September 26, 2015-)


  • 2015-2020: After the Sony Entertainment logo (albeit with motion blur added) transitions to this logo, there is the cloud formations of the previous logo shrouded in darkness, with a cerulean blue background partially illuminated by the bottom half of the screen. Then, a light shines up from the center and the clouds and background brighten, turning into full daylight. The clouds here are pure white and more ethereal in design, compared to the more realistic golden clouds from the last logo. Just as the clouds light up, there is a white stallion gallop out from the glowing light towards the camera, with the light fading out shortly afterwards. The stallion opens its wings as it runs out, revealing itself to be a Pegasus; once it stops running towards the screen, it stands up on its hind legs, showing off its full wingspan in the process. Once it has done this, the "TRISTAR" text from the previous logo (only more golden) fades in, then the byline "a Sony Company" from the previous logo fades in after that. This was last used on the Hulu original film Happiest Season, released on November 25, 2020.
  • 2022-: Starting with the release of The Woman King, released on September 16, 2022, the Sony logo at the beginning is updated with a new animation based on its May 2021 identity, with motion blur added to that logo, just like before. Otherwise, the logo remains the same.


  • The logo was designed by JAMM Visual of Santa Monica, California. Sony commissioned the updated logo to take advantage of new technologies such as 4K and IMAX 3D, which is why there's an open matte version of this logo available, unlike with the previous logo. Daffy London provided assistance on the model, rigging, layout and animation.
  • Two videos exist showcasing the development of the logo, with concept art, pre-renders, animation tests, etc. They can be seen here and here.
  • The logo does not have an HFR version, unlike the 2011 and 2021 WB/New Line and 2012 MGM logos. As a result, the 4K UHD version of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk has noticeable judder during this and the other opening logos.


  • On FXM's print of The Walk, a 1.78:1 matted version is used.
  • On most TV prints of some movies, the original scope version has been cropped to 16:9.
  • On the development videos above, and on the film The Book of Clarence, the Sony logo is omitted, similar to the 1993-2014 logo. On the latter, it is bylineless. Also, the first seconds of the fanfare are cut as they are part of the Sony logo in the first video of the former.

Closing Variant: Beginning with T2 Trainspotting in 2017, a revised version of the 1993 early closing variant is used. Here, the text is now in the same font as the opening logo and is larger.

Technique: CGI, done by JAMM Visual of Santa Monica, California, with assistance from Daffy London.

Audio: The 1998 rearranged fanfare from the previous logo or the opening theme of the movie.


  • It was first shown on the IMAX trailer for The Walk (most trailers use the previous logo).
  • The fully animated version debuted on the film itself and has been seen on TriStar releases since then.

Legacy: Considered a very worthy update of the previous logos thanks to its CGI and reuse of the 1998 fanfare.

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