Screen Gems is the name of several businesses owned by Columbia Pictures over the film studio's history.
The original incarnation of Screen Gems was founded in 1940, as an in-house animation unit for Columbia, taking over from the outsourced work from Charles Mintz's studio. It lasted until 1946 (although its product kept coming out as late as 1949) For more information on this era, see Columbia Cartoons.
Columbia wasn't done with the Screen Gems name yet, however. In 1948, two years after the name was stripped of its cartoon studio status, the name went in use as the name for Columbia's television unit. It started off distributing Columbia films on TV, but later began making its own series, such as Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Partridge Family. It also distributed most of the early shows from Hanna-Barbera. During this time, Screen Gems gave birth to its most iconis Vanity Plate, the S filmstrip. The version used during this era was notorious for being Nightmare Fuel, giving it the nickname, "The S From Hell".
The big reason for the Screen Gems name being used for Columbia's TV shows was because the then-new novelty had a negative stigma from the then-floundering movie studios, most of which wanted no part in the potentially threatening medium; only Paramount Pictures actually dipped its toes into the novelty. However, by 1974, virtually all of the fear of TV by the studios had subsided, and they'd made their own TV production departments. This meant that the Screen Gems name had little purpose anymore, and Columbia decided it was time to retire the Screen Gems name for good...
...until 1999. By this point, Columbia, had given rise to three additional brand names for film production: Tri-Star Pictures, Triumph Pictures, and art-house unit Sony Pictures Classics. Deciding that three brands wasn't enough, the company decided to revive the Screen Gems name for "films that fall between the wide-release movies traditionally developed and distributed by Columbia Pictures and those released by Sony Pictures Classics." Under this new regime, Screen Gems enjoys a healthy lifestyle, releasing several successful films, including the Underworld series and films based on Resident Evil.
Thanks to its successes, it can be assured that the Screen Gems name is back and here to stay.
Notable films released by Screen Gems (for products from the past two eras, see Columbia Cartoons and Columbia Pictures):
- Arlington Road
- The Resident Evil films
- Half Past Dead
- The Underworld franchise
- When a Stranger Calls (2006 remake)
- Dear John
- Attack the Block
- The Vow
- Think Like A Man