Touchstone Pictures is merely a brand and does not exist as a separate company: the two de facto companies behind it are the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and Walt Disney Pictures and Television.
Started by then Disney CEO Ron W. Miller in 1984, Touchstone's first release was Splash, a huge hit for Walt Disney Productions, grossing $68 million at the domestic boxoffice. Splash included brief 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 90's 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.
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 April 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 '90s. His Touchstone titles include The Ref, Con Air, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Coyote Ugly, Pearl Harbor, Bad Company, Veronica Guerin, King Arthur and Déjà Vu. In addition, Bruckheimer has also produced several other movies 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 Rocketeer, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Santa Clause, Remember the Titans, Sweet Home Alabama, Bringing Down the House, National Treasure, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dark Water, Hidalgo and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Of these films, The Rocketeer, The Santa Clause, Remember the Titans, National Treasure, and The Curse of the Black Pearl were released under the Disney label; ironically, The Santa Clause was released under both the Disney and Hollywood Pictures labels. The rest were released under Touchstone.
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, 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 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.
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