Touchstone Pictures

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Credits
Logo descriptions by
Matt Williams, Kris Starring, and JuniorFan88


Logo captures by
Eric S., V of Doom, SubparMario63, et al.


Editions by
V of Doom, Bob Fish, betamaxtheflyer, BenIsRandom, and Vahan Nisanian


Video captures courtesy of
Tlogods, IdentsandLogos, Stephen Cezar, LogoLibraryInc, and Eric S.

Background

Touchstone Pictures (formerly "Touchstone Films") was established by The Walt Disney Company in 1983 to produce and distribute more adult-oriented films, before which the name was used in promotional materials for the Disney-branded Tex. The company is merely a brand, and doesn't operate as a separate company. The company became a dominant force between its establishment in the 1980s to the early 2000s, making several successful films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Three Men and a Baby, Adventures in Babysitting, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Color of Money, and many more films. However, the company suffered a halt in 2009, when two blows were dealt to the company. First, the then-new Disney chairman Rich Ross trimmed the number of films Disney released in a year to eight. This business plan resulted in planned sequels for Touchstone hits being cancelled, and many more flops to come for Disney in general (he left after the failures of John Carter and Mars Needs Moms); the last Touchstone film released solo, without distributing for others, was You Again. Meanwhile, Disney eventually stopped producing adult-oriented but family-friendly films after Old Dogs flopped with critics (though it did reasonably well at the box office). After all this, Touchstone began merely distributing films for Lucasfilm, Miramax, and DreamWorks, as well as foreign films and titles Disney had no faith in. It didn't help either that Disney was beginning to release their Marvel and Star Wars films under the respective Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm brands. Their output was even more slow after the critical and commercial failure of Strange Magic, with them only distributing Bridge of Spies and The Light Between Oceans since then. As Disney's deal with DreamWorks expired (since they went back to Universal Pictures for distribution) and they eventually acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019, Touchstone now appears to be dormant. Its last release, The Light Between Oceans, came out in September 2016, and while the 2019 film Glass was rumored to be released by Touchstone outside of the United States, it was instead released under the revived Buena Vista International label.


1st Logo (March 9, 1984)

Nicknames: "Thunderball", "Static Thunderball", "Thunderball of Boredom", "Touchstone Thunderball"

Logo: On a black/salmon gradient background, we see a blue ball with 2 yellow thunderbolts cut into it diagonally. Underneath it is the dark blue text:

T O U C H S T O N E
F I L M S

Trivia: The logo was designed by Jerry Kuyper of Landor Associates.

FX/SFX: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Only seen on Splash. It's seen on TV airings and VHS and DVD prints of said film as well as on Disney+, but some late-'80s to mid-'90s issues plaster it with the early version of the 3rd logo.

Editor's Note: This was most likely a placeholder logo, as Disney introduced the Touchstone name and logo less than a month before the release of Splash, which explains its static nature. The pink color scheme for the background since 1980s.

2nd Logo (September 29, 1984-March 22, 1985)

Nicknames: "Shattering Thunderball", "Thunderball II", "Touchstone Thunderball II"

Logo: We start on a blue background, which then shrinks into a ball on a black background zooms out into the upper center portion of the screen. After it heads toward the background, it flashes and turns into the thunderball from the 1st logo and the whole background lights up with "TOUCHSTONE FILMS" at the bottom in navy blue text.

Variant: On full screen versions of Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, as that film was shot in 2.35:1, the logo was squeezed vertically to fit the standard TV aspect ratio, so the circle became an vertical oval.

FX/SFX: The "shrinking" of the circle, and the flash. All 80's cel animation.

Music/Sounds: A "wind-blowing" sound followed by a "chime" during the flash part of the animation. In other cases, it's silent.

Availability: Extremely rare. Only known to appear on 2 films: Country and Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. It also appears on their respective DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Editor's Note: A notable wasted logo. It was actually an effective piece of art, if it didn't show its age.



3rd Logo (August 9, 1985-October 17, 2003)

Nicknames: "The Snake", "Thunderball III", "Touchstone Thunderball III", "Snake Thunderball"

Logo: On a black background, a blue oblong moves from the right side of the screen to the left. As it shrinks to the left of the screen, the stacked text "TOUCHSTONE PICTURES" slides next to it. After the oblong morphs into a blue ball, the text shines from right to left before hitting the ball. After the text hits the ball, the thunderbolt from the last 2 logos appears on it.

Variants:

  • For the first two years of this logo's use, "FILMS" was seen instead of "PICTURES". The "shining" of the letters is also difficult to see. This version appeared on My Science Project, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Off Beat, Ruthless People, and The Color of Money.
  • The positioning of the logo varies. Earlier variants were in the middle; for the rest of the logo's run, it was on the bottom.
  • In its later years, the logo was enhanced with a motion blur effect added when the logo slides, and a slightly larger shine. This variant can be seen on movies like Unbreakable, Gone in 60 Seconds or Veronica Guerin.

FX/SFX: The "flash" and the "electricity", pretty good 2D animation from the animation unit of Walt Disney Productions (now known as Walt Disney Animation Studios).

Music/Sounds: A series of synthesized bells, ending in a "twang" when the circle and thunder meet, composed by John Debney. In other cases, it used the opening/closing theme of the movie or silent. On some films, such as The Color of Money, 3 Ninjas and The Waterboy, the film's opening score deliberately syncs up with the logo's animation.

Availability: Common, due to its longevity of nearly 20 years. It's found on many movies produced by the company during this time. It was first seen on My Science Project and was last seen on Shanghai Knights, released on February 7, 2003, but made one last surprise appearance on Veronica Guerin. This logo wasn't seen at all on Gangs of New York, Jerky Boys: The Movie, and overseas theatrical prints of Face/Off, Air Force One, Starship Troopers, and Die Hard With a Vengeance (for the latter, co-producer Cinergi sold most international theatrical rights to Disney/Buena Vista). However, all overseas TV, video, and streaming releases of the former 3 films start with the Buena Vista International logo, while Die Hard With a Vengeance (save the European Touchstone Home Entertainment Blu-ray which contains Buena Vista International) only opens with Cinergi. This logo was seen on pre-2006 prints of The Nightmare Before Christmas, though newer remastered prints have it plastered with the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo starting with the 3D re-release. It can still be found on pre-2006 DVD and VHS releases of said film.

Editor's Note: Since this logo uses cel animation, the logo wasn't that bad when it made its debut back in the mid-1980s, but in the later years of the logo's use, it started to look worn out. This logo, however, is a favorite of many, mainly due to the creepy music.

4th Logo (August 2, 2002-September 2, 2016)

Nicknames: "Thunderball IV", "CGI Golden-Light Thunderball", "Touchstone Thunderball IV", "CGI Touchstone Thunderball"

Logo: On a black background, the lightning bolt from the previous logo streaks in and zooms back onto a grey-blue 3D sphere. After that, the text "TOUCHSTONE PICTURES" zooms out, at first a shadow then is lit up.

FX/SFX: Zooming out of the flash. This was done by Picture Mill.

Music/Sounds: Same as the previous logo. Usually, it uses the film's music or silence. On some films such as Under the Tuscan Sun, the synth chord in the background and the final note are removed and a different synth note sustains itself.

Music/Sounds Variant: Composer James Newton Howard wrote a theme for the logo to be specially used for Signs. Although it wound up unused, it was later featured in the respective film's expanded score album. It might have been created as a main theme for the logo in general, but this remains unknown. The possible theme can be heard here, and its alternate version can be heard here.

Availability: Seen on all Touchstone releases starting with the debut of Signs in 2002. Despite the logo appearing as early as 2002, the previous logo continued to be used until 2003, where this logo's use became more widespread, starting with Bringing Down the House, released on March 7, 2003. Also seen at the start of DreamWorks films starting with I Am Number Four, and at the end of trailers for those films, as well as American prints of The Wind Rises.

Editor's Note: Great CGI. However, it's not as memorable as the previous logo. Also, the previous theme doesn't fit with the logo, which is probably why it was rarely used.