New World Pictures

New World Pictures
Fate Acquired by News Corporation
Successor Fox Television Stations (television)
20th Century Fox (film)
Founded July 8, 1970 (1970-07-08)
Defunct January 22, 1997 (1997-01-22)[1]
Headquarters Atlanta, Georgia[2], United States
Key people
Roger Corman (co-founder)
Gene Corman (co-founder)
Robert Rehme (CEO, 1983–1989)
Ronald Perelman (CEO; 1989–1997)
Products Motion pictures
Television production and distribution
Television broadcasting
Owner 21st Century Fox
Parent Fox Entertainment Group

New World Pictures (also known as New World Communications Group, Inc. and founded as New World Pictures, Ltd., then renamed New World Entertainment) was an American independent production, distribution, and (in its final years as an autonomous entity) multimedia company. It was founded in 1970 by Roger Corman as a producer and distributor of motion pictures, later expanding into television production in 1984. New World eventually expanded into broadcasting with the acquisition of seven television stations in 1993, with the broadcasting unit expanding through additional purchases made during 1994.

20th Century Fox (then owned by News Corporation), controlled by Rupert Murdoch, became a major investor in 1994 and purchased the company outright in 1997; the alliance with Murdoch, particularly through a group affiliation agreement with New World reached between the two companies in May 1994, helped to cement the Fox network as the fourth major U.S. television network.

Although effectively defunct, it, along with various regional subsidiaries (i.e. "New World Communications of Tampa"), continues to exist as holding companies within the complex 21st Century Fox corporate structure.


New World Pictures (1970–1987)

The company was founded on July 8, 1970 as New World Pictures, Ltd.; it was co-founded by B-movie director Roger Corman and his brother Gene, following their departure from American International Pictures (AIP).[3] At the time, New World was the last remaining national low-budget film distributor, and was also one of the most successful independent companies in the nation. Corman hoped to continue AIP's formula at New World, making low-budget films made by new talent and distributing them internationally. However, it started out with only ten domestic offices, and one each in Canada and the United Kingdom; its films were distributed regionally by other companies.[4]

New World initially made exploitation films such as The Student Nurses and other small-scale productions. Corman helped launch the filmmaking careers of Jonathan Demme (Caged Heat, Crazy Mama), Jonathan Kaplan (White Line Fever), Ron Howard (Grand Theft Auto), Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000) and Joe Dante (Piranha), all of whom made some of their early films as interns for the company.[4] New World also released foreign films from acclaimed directors such as Ingmar Bergman (Cries and Whispers, Autumn Sonata), Federico Fellini (Amarcord) and Akira Kurosawa (Dersu Uzala). The distribution of such films was conceived by Corman in an effort to disassociate New World as an exhibitor for exploitation films.[4]

In 1983, Corman sold New World to Larry Kupin, Harry E. Sloan and Larry A. Thompson for $16.5 million; the three new owners decided to take the company public. Corman retained the film library, while New World acquired home video rights to the releases. In 1984, Robert Rehme – who formerly served as chief executive officer of Avco Embassy Pictures and Universal Pictures, and had previously worked for New World as its vice president of sales in the 1970s – returned to the company as its new CEO. Later that year, Thompson left the company to form his own firm.[5]

In 1984, the company created three new divisions: New World International, which would handle distribution of New World's productions outside the United States; New World Television, a production unit focusing on television programs (the first television programs produced by the unit were the soap opera Santa Barbara and the made-for-TV movie Playing With Fire); and New World Video, which would handle home video distribution of films produced mainly by New World Pictures. In May 1986, New World acquired post-production facility Lions Gate Studios for $4.4 million. That November, the company acquired the Marvel Entertainment Group (MEG), the corporate parent of Marvel Comics.[6][7] By early 1987, the company sold its shares in Taft Broadcasting for $17.8 million.[5]

New World Entertainment (1987–1993)

In 1987, New World acquired independent film studio Highgate Pictures and the Learning Corporation of America.[8] By this time, New World Pictures changed its name to New World Entertainment to better reflect its a range of subsidiaries besides the film studio, including its purchase of Marvel Comics. Also that year, New World almost purchased two toy companies, Kenner Products and Mattel, but both planned acquisitions never materialized (although Hasbro would acquire Kenner in 1991). In the fall of 1987, New World became the third in the list of prime time series producers to the network after Lorimar-Telepictures and MCA. In 1988, Michael Mann, executive producer of the hour-long syndicated program Crime Story, filed a lawsuit against New World.[5]

Around this time, New World faced a major financial slump and the company began restructuring itself. Facing insolvency, company management appealed to New World's principal lender, GE Capital, for a comprehensive debt restructuring, which would have wiped out the company's equity and left GE holding a 90% ownership stake. GE demurred, preferring an insolvency workout and tried to force the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Another equity firm, Sloan and Kuppin, instead pursued an aggressive program of divestitures and sales, which ultimately yielded a substantial profit to management while leaving the debt holders struggling. This began with the sale of Marvel Entertainment Group to Andrews Group (run by financier Ronald Perelman) in 1989; Marvel Productions was excluded from the sale.[9] In an irony, later that year, Perelman subsequently acquired New World Entertainment, with Four Star Television (a television production company that Perelman had previously acquired) becoming a unit of the company.[10] The bulk of its film and home video holdings were sold in January 1990 to Trans-Atlantic Pictures, a newly formed production company founded by a consortium of former New World executives.[11] Highgate Pictures and Learning Corporation of America were shut down in 1990. On October 7, 1991, New World sold much of its "network" assets to Sony Pictures Entertainment.[12] Some television programs produced by New World such as Santa Barbara and The Wonder Years would remain in production by the company until their cancellations in 1993; New World would not return to producing programs for the major broadcast television networks until early 1995.

In December of that year, New World formed two new divisions, New World Family Filmworks and New World Action Animation, to increase production to the growing family market by $20 million; Marvel Productions President Rick Ungar was appointed to head the two divisions.[12][13] Following Marvel Entertainment Group's acquisition of ToyBiz in 1993, that company's CEO Avi Arad was named President and CEO of both New World Family Filmworks and Marvel Films,[14] a new unit formed as a joint venture between Marvel and New World (which included an animation studio, Marvel Films Animation); Marvel Productions was renamed New World Animation in 1993.[14][15][16]

New World Communications (1993–1997)

In 1992, Perelman purchased SCI Television from George Gillett,[10] acquiring the company's seven television stations: CBS affiliates WAGA-TV (channel 5) in Atlanta, WJBK-TV (channel 2) in Detroit, WJW-TV (channel 8) in Cleveland, WITI-TV (channel 6) in Milwaukee and WTVT (channel 13) in Tampa; NBC affiliate KNSD (channel 39) in San Diego; and independent station WSBK-TV (channel 38) in Boston. Also included in the purchase was the library of Storer-owned syndication firm Blair Entertainment, which they had bought in 1985. SCI had undergone several corporate restructurings following its 1987 purchase by Gillett Communications from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (which, in turn, had acquired the stations' former parent Storer Communications in 1985). Earlier in the decade, the group – then known as GCI Broadcast Services, Inc. – had restructured after defaulting on some of its financing agreements. Eventually, the renamed SCI ran into severe financial problems, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 1992. SCI was folded into New World, following the completion of its purchase of the group by Perelman in the summer of 1993.

In 1993, New World Entertainment purchased ownership stakes in syndication distribution company Genesis Entertainment and infomercial production company Guthy-Renker.[10] With the asset expansion, the company changed its name to New World Communications.[17]

The company expanded its broadcasting holdings in January 1994 with its purchase of Argyle Television – a company partially related to Argyle Television Holdings II, which merged with Hearst Broadcasting to form Hearst-Argyle Television in 1997 – acquiring its four stations: CBS affiliates KTBC-TV (channel 7) in Austin, Texas and KDFW-TV (channel 4) in Dallas; NBC affiliate WVTM-TV (channel 13) in Birmingham, Alabama; and ABC affiliate KTVI (channel 2) in St. Louis. Then in February, New World acquired four of the six television stations owned by Citicasters: ABC affiliates WBRC-TV (channel 6) in Birmingham and WGHP-TV (channel 8) in High Point, North Carolina; NBC affiliate WDAF-TV (channel 4) in Kansas City, Missouri; and CBS affiliate KSAZ-TV (channel 10) in Phoenix). Citicasters retained ownership of ABC affiliates WKRC-TV (channel 12) in Cincinnati, Ohio and WTSP (channel 10) in St. Petersburg, Florida; in the latter case, New World opted against buying WTSP, as WTVT had the higher viewership of the two stations and market-wide signal coverage (WTSP's analog signal did not adequately cover southern sections of the Tampa-St. Petersburg market as its transmitter was short-spaced to avoid interfering with the signal of Miami ABC affiliate WPLG, as both stations broadcast on VHF channel 10; because of this reason, ABC has long maintained a secondary Tampa affiliate in Sarasota-based WWSB).

The concurrent purchases of WBRC and WGHP posed issues as, at the time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only allowed a single company to own a maximum of twelve television stations nationwide (the Argyle and Citicasters purchases, combined with the seven stations it earlier acquired from SCI Television, would have given New World a total of 15 stations) and in the case of Birmingham, New World could not keep WBRC and WVTM in any event, as it forbade common ownership of two television stations in the same market. As a result, following the completion of the Citicasters station purchases in late March 1995, New World would then place WBRC and WGHP in a blind trust and seek buyers for both stations.[18]

Affiliation agreement and merger with Fox

The biggest deal involving New World Communications would aid in changing the face of American broadcasting. In the wake of Fox's landmark $1.58 billion deal with the National Football League (NFL) on December 17, 1993, which awarded it the television rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) beginning with the league's 1994 season,[19][20] the network began seeking agreements with various station groups to affiliate with VHF stations that had established histories as affiliates of the Big Three broadcast television networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) and therefore had higher value with advertisers (compared to its predominately UHF affiliate body, the vast majority of which were independent stations before joining the network), in an effort to bolster the network's newly acquired package of NFL game telecasts.[21]

Shortly after the Citicasters acquisition announcement, on May 23, 1994, New World Communications and Fox reached a multi-year affiliation agreement in which New World would switch most of its television stations to the network beginning that fall. The deal would include most of the stations that New World was in the midst of acquiring from Argyle and Citicasters, with all of the affected stations joining Fox after existing affiliation contracts with their then-current network partners concluded (WDAF-TV and KSAZ-TV were the first to switch on September 12, 1994, when Fox televised its inaugural regular-season NFL games; KDFW, KTBC and KTVI switched on July 1, 1995, while all but three of the other stations that remained under New World ownership switched on either December 11 or 12, 1994). In exchange, Fox parent News Corporation agreed to purchase a 20% interest in New World for $500 million.[2][22][23][24] New World was approached by Fox in part due to the group's expanding presence in several primary and secondary markets of NFC teams (including those of the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals; St. Louis and Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point would respectively become NFL markets in 1995 with the relocation of the Rams from Los Angeles and the foundation of the Charlotte-based Carolina Panthers). New World, meanwhile, was concerned about the effect that the network's loss of NFC rights to Fox would have on both CBS, which was near the bottom of the network ratings at the time, and on the group's CBS-affiliated stations.

The stations that became Fox affiliates had to acquire or produce additional programming to fill their broadcast days as Fox programmed significantly fewer hours of network content (prime time programming for two hours on Monday through Saturdays and three hours on Sundays, the Monday through Saturday children's block Fox Kids, and an hour of late night programming on Saturdays) than its three established major network competitors; on top of that, most of the New World stations (with KTVI later becoming the lone exception) declined to carry the Fox Kids block, a peculiarity even at a time when some ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates were still pre-empting portions of their network's children's program lineups. The time vacated by news programs, daytime shows and children's programs from each station's former network was filled by additional syndicated programming and, in particular, local newscasts (with morning newscasts expanding by one to two hours and early-evening newscasts by a half-hour; the majority of the stations – except for KTBC, initially, until it launched an hour-long 9:00 p.m. newscast in August 2000 – also carried a newscast in the final hour of prime time). The deal as a whole (as well as a second affiliation agreement that was struck one month after the New World deal through the purchase of four Burnham Broadcasting stations by SF Broadcasting, a joint venture with Savoy Pictures) caused a domino effect that resulted in various individual and group affiliation deals involving all four networks (primarily, CBS and ABC) affecting television stations in 30 media markets, including several where New World did not own a station.

Three New World stations were excluded from the Fox affiliation deal. In Boston, where New World owned WSBK-TV, Fox was already affiliated with WFXT (channel 25), which the network would later re-acquire from the Boston Celtics in July 1995 (besides that, WSBK – like WFXT – was a UHF station with no prior history as a major network station and no existing news department, unlike the vast majority of its sister stations).[25] WVTM was exempted in Birmingham, as in the summer of 1995, New World sold WBRC as well as WGHP to Fox Television Stations, with WBRC switching to Fox after its affiliation contract with ABC expired on August 31, 1996 (Fox's purchases of WBRC and WGHP – the latter of which switched to the network when its contract with ABC expired on September 1, 1995 – were finalized on January 17, 1996). KNSD (also a UHF station) also did not switch as Fox was already affiliated with a VHF station in the San Diego market, Tijuana, Mexico-based XETV-TV (channel 6, now a CW affiliate). Both KNSD and WVTM retained their NBC affiliations. New World planned to sell all three stations as well, in order to comply with the FCC's twelve-station ownership limit.[17] In November 1994, New World sold WSBK-TV to the Paramount Stations Group subsidiary of Viacom (which turned it into a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN), a new network launched on January 16, 1995 in partnership with Viacom subsidiary Paramount Television).[26][27]

Meanwhile, the transfer/assignment applications of the Argyle stations were not filed with the FCC until some time after New World had already completed its purchases of the four Citicasters stations on September 9 and October 12, 1994 (the former being the consummation date for the WDAF and KSAZ purchases, and the latter for the WGHP and WBRC purchases). New World began operating the Argyle stations through time brokerage agreements on January 19, 1995; the acquisition of the Argyle stations was completed on April 14, following the trust transfers of WBRC and WGHP.

Later that year, Brandon Tartikoff, who helped NBC out of its ratings doldrums in the 1980s in his former role as President of Entertainment at NBC, joined New World Communications in an executive position; concurrently, New World acquired Tartikoff's production company Moving Target Productions. New World also acquired the remaining interest in Genesis Entertainment, which expanded upon New World's production assets into television distribution (Genesis was subsequently renamed New World-Genesis Distribution following the closure of the purchase).

Later in 1995, the company signed a distribution deal with NBC (Access Hollywood, now distributed by NBCUniversal Television Distribution, was the only program that came out of the agreement), in exchange for renewing the NBC affiliations for WVTM and KNSD in ten-year deals. That year also saw the acquisitions of Cannell Entertainment and entertainment magazine Premiere (the latter of which was purchased in a joint venture between New World and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., which assumed New World's interest following its merger with News Corporation). In May 1996, New World sold WVTM and KNSD to NBC Television Stations for $425 million;[28] the two stations became owned-and-operated stations of NBC when the deal became final on August 14.

On July 17, 1996, Fox parent News Corporation announced that it would acquire the remainder of New World Communications, for $2.48 billion in stock.[29][30] When the merger with News Corporation was finalized on January 22, 1997, the former New World television stations were transferred into its Fox Television Stations subsidiary, turning the former group's twelve Fox affiliates into owned-and-operated stations of the network, joining WGHP and WBRC. The "New World Communications" name has lived on since then by the stations involved in the purchase that remain under Fox Television Stations ownership, under the names "New World Communications of (city or state)" or "NW Communications of (city or state)", originally used solely in copyright tags seen during the closing of each station's newscasts (except from 2007 to June 2009 as a result of Fox's December 2007 sale of eight owned-and-operated stations – including former New World stations WJW, KTVI, WDAF-TV, WITI-TV, WBRC and WGHP – to Local TV, which itself would merge with Tribune Broadcasting in December 2013[31]) and since late June 2009, in FCC license filings as the legal licensee names for these stations.

New World Pictures status

New World Pictures still exists as a legal holdings entity under 21st Century Fox for the ex-New World television stations now operating as Fox O&Os, New World Pictures was folded to 20th Century Fox.[1]

Current rights to the New World libraries

Films released from 1971–1983

Films released from 1984–1991

Television programs and films

Former New World-owned television stations

City of license / Market Station Channel
Years Owned Current Ownership Status
Birmingham, Alabama WBRC-TV 6 (50) 1994–95** Fox affiliate owned by Raycom Media
WVTM-TV 13 (13) 1995–96 NBC affiliate owned by Hearst Television
Phoenix KSAZ-TV 10 (10) 1994–97 Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
San Diego KNSD 39 (40) 1993–96 NBC owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations
Tampa - St. Petersburg WTVT 13 (12) 1993–97 Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
Atlanta WAGA-TV 5 (27) 1993–97 Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
Boston WSBK-TV 38 (39) 1993–95 MyNetworkTV affiliate owned by CBS Television Stations
Detroit WJBK-TV 2 (7) 1993–97 Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
Kansas City, Missouri WDAF-TV 4 (34) 1994–97 Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
St. Louis KTVI 2 (43) 1995–97 Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
High Point - Greensboro -
Winston-Salem, N.C.
WGHP-TV 8 (35) 1994–95** Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
Cleveland WJW-TV 8 (8) 1993–97 Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting
Austin, Texas KTBC-TV 7 (7) 1995–97 Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
Dallas - Fort Worth KDFW-TV 4 (35) 1995–97 Fox owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
KDFI-TV 27 (36) * MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station (O&O) owned by Fox Television Stations
Milwaukee WITI-TV 6 (33) 1993–97 Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Broadcasting

Partial filmography

Roger Corman regime

New regime

(P/U) = film picked up for distribution by New World only


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    Geoffrey Foisie (May 30, 1994). "Fox and the New World order" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. Cahners Business Information. p. 8. Retrieved March 16, 2015 via American Radio History.
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