Touchstone Pictures is merely a label (similar to a record label) and does not exist as a separate company: the two companies behind it are the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and Walt Disney Pictures and Television.
Their most commercially successful production partners in later years have been Caravan Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Icon Productions, Imagine Entertainment, Mandeville Films, Focus Features and Spyglass Entertainment.
The Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group entered into a long-term, 30-picture distribution deal with DreamWorks by which DreamWorks' productions would be released through the Touchstone Pictures banner over the next five years beginning in 2011.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was an actual Disney film, but was released under the Touchstone Pictures banner due to fear of the film's content.
In late 1979, Walt Disney Productions released The Black Hole, a science-fiction film 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 name visible—almost a year before the release of The Black Hole.) Over the next few years, Disney experimented with more PG-rated fare, such as the 1981 film Condorman; 1982's Tron and Tex (which featured scenes of teenagers smoking marijuana) and 1983's Never Cry Wolf (which featured male nudity) and Trenchcoat. The latter film attracted major criticism for including adult themes that were considered inappropriate for a Disney film. At the same time, the Disney name was strongly associated with children's films, and may have adversely affected the box-office performance of films aimed at an older audience, such as The Devil and Max Devlin and Tron.
Started by then-Disney CEO Ron W. Miller in 1984, Touchstone's first film was Splash, a huge hit for grossing $68 million at the domestic boxoffice. Splash included brief rear nudity on the part of star Daryl Hannah and occasional inappropriate language, earning a PG-rating. Because of its success, yet another Disney film label was started in 1990, Hollywood Pictures, with the release of Arachnophobia.
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) label, Disney has decided to weigh distribution of films more toward Disney-branded films and away from Touchstone films, though not entirely disbanding them as it is continues to regularly employ the Touchstone label for R and most PG-13 rated fare.
Some well-known Touchstone Pictures releases include Pretty Woman, Splash, Dead Poets Society, Sister Act, The Insider, Ernest Goes to Camp, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Con Air, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Good Morning Vietnam. Its highest-grossing film release is Armageddon.
Through Touchstone, Disney's first R-rated film, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, came in January 1986 and was a large box-office success. Ruthless People followed in June 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 of recent times has been producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has had a production deal with Disney since the early 1990s. His Touchstone titles include The Ref, Con Air, Armageddon, 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 Walt Disney Pictures and Hollywood Pictures labels.
Many films from the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group have before release shifted between the Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and Hollywood Pictures imprints before finally settling for one. Examples include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Dick Tracy, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Santa Clause, Remember the Titans, Sweet Home Alabama, Bringing Down the House, National Treasure, Enchanted, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dark Water, Hidalgo, Tales of Earthsea, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Of these films, The Rocketeer, The Santa Clause, Remember the Titans, National Treasure, Enchanted, Tales of Earthsea and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl were released under the Disney label. The Santa Clause was released under both the Disney and Hollywood Pictures labels. The rest were released under Touchstone. Since 2006, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been re-released under the Walt Disney label.
- Main article: ABC Studios
Disney's former non-Disney branded television division, Touchstone Television Productions, LLC (formerly known as Touchstone Pictures and Television [itself an alternate version of Walt Disney Pictures and Television] 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, 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. In May 2007, the television production company yet again changed its name, this time to ABC Studios.
- Main article: Disney Interactive Studios
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 merely acts as a label/imprint of Disney Interactive and not its own entity.Template:Citation needed The first such release was the Turok video game in 2008.
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