Universal Pictures was originally formed on April 30, 1912 by Carl Laemmle, a German-Jewish immigrant who settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he managed a clothing store. It is the oldest studio in Hollywood. The word "Universal" means "Omnipresent". In 1915, he opened Universal Studios. In 1946, Universal merged with International Pictures, headed by Leo Spitz and William Goetz. This team ran Universal-International, while Nate Blumberg and J. Cheever Cowdin remained at the helm of Universal Pictures, the parent company. In 1948, Universal-International ordered the destruction of all remaining silent film copies to collect the silver nitrate after World War II ended. In late 1951, Universal-International was acquired by Decca Records. In 1962, Music Corporation of America (MCA) purchased Decca Records and with it, Universal-International Pictures, leaving Milton Rackmil and Edward Muhl in charge, while Dr. Jules Stein (Board Chairman) and Lew Wasserman (President) guiding MCA. As a result of a consent decree with the justice department, MCA divested itself of its talent agency business. In 1990, MCA/Universal was acquired by Panasonic Corporation and later sold to Seagram and Sons in 1995. On December 9, 1996, MCA was reincorporated and renamed as "Universal Studios". In December 2000, French company Vivendi acquired Universal Studios from Seagram and Sons and formed Vivendi Universal Entertainment. On May 11, 2004, it was part-owned by Vivendi SA (20%) and General Electric (80%) and became a subsidiary of NBC Universal, Inc. On January 26, 2011, Vivendi S.A. sold the remaining 20% of NBC Universal to GE until January 28, when Comcast Corporation acquired a 51% controlling interest of the renamed NBCUniversal, LLC, and the remaining stock (49%) from GE on March 19, 2013. Universal is one of the world's first major film studios, alongside Gaumont Film Company, Pathe, Titanus, Nordisk Film and Nikkatsu Corporation, and the very first major film studio in Hollywood. Currently, its logos are credited at the end of every film that is produced by Universal.
1st Logo (1913?-1918?)
Logo: A sepia rotating model globe with "UNIVERSAL FILMS" on a space background with a "Made in USA" logo (which resembles an interstate shield) on two bottom corners.
- There is a green version of the logo.
- There is a black and white version of this logo.
- There is a variant where "UNIVERSAL FILMS" is not superimposed over the globe but rather a model. The text is also placed in a lower position than normal. The globe and space background also looks different. The "Made in USA" logo is also gone. The globe animation is also improved as well.
- There is a variant where the logo looks drawn on a black background. The "Made in USA" logo and the stars are gone. A plate with the text "NESTOR" or "SPECIAL" has been added along with the trademark text under the plate.
- Sometimes, the text "NATIONAL BOARD OF CENSORS" is added under the globe.
- In The Boy Mayor the logo is bigger with stars all over it.
Technique: Likely live-action.
Availability: Extremely rare. Most of their silent films of this time were destroyed, while some went into the public domain and have recreated titles replacing the Universal references, this so far is known to appear on The Hedge Between, The Girl Ranchers, The Ohio Flood, The Heart of Humanity and at the end of The Boy Mayor, all which are in the public domain.
Legacy: This logo marks the first appearance of the iconic Universal globe logo, which has remained a staple of the studio's branding to this day.
2nd Logo (July 22, 1914-1919)
Logo: We see a circle with "UNIVERSAL" written above and "FILMS" written below. Inside the circle is some small text that says "TRADE MARK". A Saturn-like ring surrounds the circle, which reads "THE TRANS-ATLANTIC FILM CO. LTD." (Universal's British distributor at the time).
Music/Sounds: The closing theme of the movie. Otherwise, it uses a violin theme.
Availability: Ultra rare. Like the last logo, this is hard to come across because most of their silent films of this time were destroyed, while some went into public domain and have recreated titles replacing the Universal references. This is harder to find as there are more films destroyed with reissue titles plastering this logo, though a select few films, however, have turned up with their original credits and this logo intact. It last appeared on a silent film aired on TCM's Silent Sunday Nights. However, it can be found on the film By the Sun's Rays.
3rd Logo (January 16, 1922-September 9, 1927)
Logo: Against some dark clouds, we see a biplane flying around a rotating globe counterclockwise, leaving a trail of smoke behind it, which forms the words "UNIVERSAL PICTURES".
- A more zoomed out version in a sepia tone color was used sometimes.
- On Soft Shoes (1925), there is a blue toned version of the logo.
Technique: Live-action model work combined with wiping effects.
Availability: Ultra rare. Currently appears on some 1920's Universal films on TCM's Silent Sunday Nights. It has been seen on The Cat and The Canary and was also seen on Soft Shoes.
4th Logo (January 18, 1925-August 1927?)
Logo: On a dark cloudy background, we see a globe slowly rotating where a smiling Carl Laemmle can be seen in the middle. Below are the words "Carl Laemmle" in a script font and "P R E S E N T S" below it.
- On a black background, we see a globe on the top left with Carl Laemmle smiling in the middle whilst the globe is rotating at a normal pace. On the bottom right-hand corner, we see "Carl Laemmle" in a script font like the normal logo and says "Presents" below it.
- Another variant has the rotating globe but with the "CARL LAEMMLE" text in a capitalized font.
- At the end of Smouldering Fires, we see the text "It's a Universal Picture" on a black background.
Technique: Live-action, for the model globe.
Music/Sounds: An organ theme for the normal logo, whilst the variant has a descending orchestral theme which could be an opening theme to the movie. On both prints of the film it would be normally silent like the original film.
Availability: Like most early Universal logos, extremely rare. Can be seen on the silent film Smouldering Fires, and the variant can be seen on another silent film, Head Winds.
5th Logo (September 9, 1927-September 17, 1936)
Logo: On a cloud-like background, an earth globe rotates as a biplane flies around it. The text "A UNIVERSAL PICTURE" wipes in diagonally as the biplane passes the globe.
Trivia: The biplane is a Lockheed 8C Sirius.
- The position of the globe varies per movie.
- The logo was cropped to 1.85 for Universal's 75th Anniversary logo in 1990. However, fullscreen prints of the logo retain the full aspect ratio.
- A colored variant exists where the entire logo is light blue.
- The words "THE END" are seen superimposed over the globe, and the sky is darker. Seconds later, the text "IT'S A UNIVERSAL PICTURE" fades in.
- Another closing variant exists where the globe is at the bottom right corner rotating. On the top, it says "The End" in a cursive font. "It's a Universal Picture" (also in cursive) is superimposed over the globe. A ray of light also shines down on the globe. On some films, the text is on the bottom left corner. Starting around 1933, the text is in a Broadway font.
- On short films, instead of the text saying "It's a Universal Picture", the text is replaced with "It's a Universal Short".
- On cartoons, it says "It's a Universal Cartoon" in a script font.
Technique: The biplane and globe are both live-action models.
Music/Sounds: The sound of the biplane's engine.
Availability: Very rare; can be seen on films of this era.
- This logo can sometimes be seen after the current Universal logos on certain movies.
- The earlier DVD releases of Frankenstein and Dracula have plastered this with the B&W variation of the 1997 logo, while the later VHS releases of the films plaster this with the B&W variation of the 1963 logo.
- Early Betamax and VHS releases of the films do not use a logo at all, though it can be seen on the alternate opening for the former on its 2005 Special Edition DVD and the 2012 DVD & Blu-ray of the two aforementioned titles.
- This is also seen on Bride of Frankenstein, including its 1984 MCA Home Video VHS release.
- It appears on TCM's print and the Criterion and Universal DVD releases of My Man Godfrey, although several public domain prints of the film have the logo removed entirely. It was also restored for the Criterion Blu-ray and DVD of the 1936 version of Show Boat.
- It surprisingly appears on a cable print of The Texan, a 1930 Paramount film.
Legacy: This is considered an impressive logo for its era.
6th Logo (May 11, 1936-December 15, 1947)
Logo: A stylized glass globe is seen, tilted at an angle and surrounded by stars. Around the globe, the words "A UNIVERSAL PICTURE" rotate, in a stylized Art Deco font.
- On some color releases, like color Woody Woodpecker cartoons at the time, the logo is tinted blue.
- On the colorized versions of the Universal Sherlock Holmes movies, the letters are gold colored.
- Like the previous logo, this logo was also cropped to 1.85 for Universal's 75th anniversary logo in 1990. The full screen version retains the full aspect ratio.
- A Spanish-language version exists, with the text now reading "PELICULA UNIVERSAL". This may have been seen on some Spanish-dubbed Woody Woodpecker shorts.
Closing Variant: Superimposed on a special background or in the last seconds of a movie, we see the words "The End" with lettering that varies on the movie along with the text "A Universal Picture" or "A Universal Release".
Technique: Done in live action, which looks pretty impressive for its time. Created by set designer Alexander Golitzen.
Music/Sounds: A proud, bombastic orchestral fanfare, composed by Jimmy McHugh.
Music/Sounds Variant: From about 1945 onwards, the opening theme of the movie is used.
Availability: Rare. Can be seen on Universal releases of the era.
- This doesn't show up that often on TV since the movies it appears on don't appear as often as newer movies (so you might have to look on home media), but Svengoolie on Me-TV happens to be one of the best sources of this logo (and other older logos from other movie companies).
- It also often shows-up on Johnny Mack Brown films from the time period on Starz Encore Westerns.
- The last regular appearance of this logo was on the Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Woody the Giant Killer".
- It also showed up on a Screenpix Westerns airing of Destry Rides Again on August 27, 2021.
- It is unknown if this appears on any prints of the 1943 version of The Phantom of the Opera.
Legacy: This is one of the only Universal logos not to make use of the Earth as a globe.
7th Logo (August 28, 1946-April 19, 1964)
Logo: On a space background, a model globe rotates. Superimposed onto the globe are the words "Universal International" (in white for B&W films or yellow-orange for color films) in a italic Roman font, with the letters "U" and "I" bigger than the rest of the letters.
Trivia: This logo was the result of Universal's merger with International Pictures.
- There are widescreen and color versions of the logo.
- CinemaScope films have the starfield looking more different, and the company name is larger and more stretched.
- In Germany, the chyroned extra text "IM UNIVERSAL FILMVERLEIH INC" appears in white circles around the globe. This exists in both B&W and color.
Byline: Later on, the credit "EDWARD MUHL, IN CHARGE OF PRODUCTION" would appear in the lower-left corner.
Closing Variant: Same as above, but the text reads "A Universal-International Picture".
Technique: The live-action model, which, compared to the previous logos, looks nicer.
Music/Sounds: None or the opening theme of the movie.
Music/Sounds Variant: On some films such as The Egg and I and The Naked City, the bell theme from the International Pictures logo is used.
Availability: Uncommon. Again, seen on Universal International releases of the period.
- Sometimes, the 11th logo would precede it on later releases of movies from the period (like the DVD release of To Kill a Mockingbird).
- It is preserved on the Magnetic Video release of Blood of the Vampire.
- It appeared on original prints of Horror of Dracula (released as simply Dracula in the UK), but video releases either remove it or plaster it with the Warner Bros. Shield of Staleness. However, the 2018 Warner Archive Blu-ray restores this.
- It can also be seen on all releases of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie at the beginning of This Island Earth as Mike, Tom Servo and Crow enter the theater.
- The CinemaScope variant, aside from films shot in CinemaScope, can be also seen on US prints of King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Legacy: The longevity of this logo (17 years) made it a very iconic one.
8th Logo (December 5, 1963-May 18, 1990)
Logo: We zoom through space, and a pair of Van Allen radiation belts start to form. A rotating earth globe appears in the distance, and as we get closer to it, the word "UNIVERSAL" (in Futura Bold) fades in close-up to us and zooms out to a comfortable distance. Two Van Allen belts surround the globe.
- This logo was animated and designed by Universal Title and Optical (commonly known as "Universal Title"), who was also responsible for the animation for the Universal Television logos, and handled the titles and optical effects for all Universal films and television series until 1990. The globe was hand-painted on a rubber ball by Eyvind Earle, who did the space background and the Van Allen belts as well.
- On international prints of The Wizard, this logo didn’t get plastered over by the Carolco logo. Instead the logo would usually play as normal with the music and would then be followed by the film with the Universal logo blacked out.
- While a dedicated 3D variant exists (having been created for Jaws 3D and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn), the Scope version of the standard logo was converted to 3D for the stereoscopic reissue of Jaws in 2022.
Variants: Several renditions of this logo have been discovered. This is going to get complicated, so let's explain this simply:
- 1963-1973: "A UNIVERSAL PICTURE/RELEASE", with the "UNIVERSAL" text sandwiched between "A" and "PICTURE" or "RELEASE". This can also be seen on newer movies that use this logo for a retro effect.
- "PRESENTS" is underneath the "UNIVERSAL" text. Sometimes, "UNIVERSAL PRESENTS" starts blurred, but becomes clearer as the globe zooms in fast. This variant is seen on movies like Secret Ceremony, The Killers (1964), Two-Lane Blacktop and Anne of the Thousand Days.
- 1971-1990: The byline "AN MCA COMPANY", in a yellow Eurostile Bold font, appearing below the "UNIVERSAL" text. The Scope variant has it in a different font.
- "Scope": Shown in a wide ratio of 2.20:1 or 2.35:1 widescreen, the globe appears to zoom in rather slowly, and the "UNIVERSAL" text is blurred when it fades in, becoming clearer as it zooms out. The logo is much wider than usual, to accommodate the extra space. This is seen on films shot in this format such as High Plains Drifter, The Sugarland Express, Jaws, The Car, Halloween II and III, John Carpenter's The Thing, Scarface (1983), Firestarter (1984), The Dark Crystal, The Last Starfighter and They Live. It also had a bylineless variant of its own, which can be found on Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969) and The Day of the Jackal (1973). A sepia-tone variant can be found on The Deer Hunter.
- "Flat": Presented in 1.37:1 academy or 1.85:1 "matted" widescreen, the logo appears to move somewhat faster than the widescreen version. The "UNIVERSAL" text is not blurred, and simply fades in. Seen on films such as Coogan's Bluff, Duel, Charley Varrick, The Sentinel, National Lampoon's Animal House, The Jerk, Little Miss Marker (1980), Coal Miner's Daughter, Somewhere in Time, An American Werewolf in London, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cat People (1982), Videodrome, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future I and II, Weird Science, Brazil, Out of Africa, An American Tail and The Land Before Time. In an earlier variant, used in tandem with the normal version, "A UNIVERSAL PICTURE" starts blurred, but becomes clearer, along with the Edward Muhl byline. The globe zooms in faster in this variant, used on movies like Shenandoah, Send Me No Flowers, Charade and Father Goose. A B&W version of this variant can also be seen on Kitten with a Whip, which was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (with the logo intact). It was also the default pan-and-scan version of the logo and plastered the above variant on older VHS copies of most, if not all, Universal films shot in scope (a notable exception being the original VHS of The Dark Crystal, which was released by Thorn EMI Video).
- Off-center: Only known to exist on old video prints of Charade, the logo is slightly off-center, due to a sloppy job reformatting the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 into 4:3. Another off center version can be found on the MCA Discovision, MCA Videocassette Inc. and MCA Home Video releases of Jaws.
- In the early years of the "Flat" version of the logo, Universal had a small registered trademark symbol (®) below the "L" in "UNIVERSAL," which faded in alongside the zooming text. By 1975, Universal added a larger ® in the same position, but it fades in after the text zooms out. However, you can still see the smaller ® behind the bigger ®.
- Like the last logo, a credit for then-Universal head Edward Muhl can be seen on the lower-left of the first movies to feature this logo.
- The 1971 version is bylineless on some films.
- The 1971 version, but with "PRESENTS" underneath the byline in a smaller font. This was seen on American Graffiti.
- The widescreen version of Jaws 3-D has the MCA byline in a more extended font.
- There is a variation that contains the word "RELEASE" below the MCA byline. This was used to plaster the Paramount logo at the end of 1980s reissue prints of Alfred Hitchcock films owned by Hitchcock himself (including Rear Window and 1956's The Man Who Knew Too Much), and also appeared on US theatrical prints of The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella.
- A black-and-white version was seen at the beginning of the 1980 MCA Videocassette, Inc. VHS release of Scarface (1932) (Also on the 1984 MCA Home Video reprint), the 1980 VHS release of Psycho, and the 1965 unsold TV pilot Dark Intruder (which received a theatrical release).
- There is another scope variant where the 1.85 version is cropped to 2.35. This can be found on Coupe De Ville, Bird on a Wire, and Jaws: The Revenge. However, the GoodTimes DVD of the latter uses the regular scope variant. The cropped Scope variant also appears, in reverse, on The House with a Clock in Its Walls (more can be read about that on this company's Logo Variations page).
- On most movies from 1989 and 1990, the MCA byline has more of a red-orange color, and the Van Allen belts are more purple. This can be found on Parenthood, Uncle Buck, Field of Dreams, the VHS release of Born on the Fourth of July, Opportunity Knocks, Coupe De Ville, Bird on a Wire, and the theatrical trailers for Back to the Future Part III and Problem Child (both of which ultimately used the 75th Anniversary variant of the 9th logo). However, some movies from 1989, such as Back to the Future Part II, The Dream Team and K-9, would still use the original variant of the MCA byline. A clip of this variant was used for the Universal 75th Anniversary logo, which also used clips from the 5th and 6th logos.
- On the end of Discovery Channel Southeast Asian prints of Jaws and Jaws 2, the logo is faster and the credits music plays over the logo.
- At the end of some films from the era, we see a blue background with the print logo of the time inside a yellow circle with "UNIVERSAL STUDIOS" written under it. Around the yellow circle is a red ring with the following text inside: "THE ENTERTAINMENT CENTER OF THE WORLD". The text "PRODUCED AT" appears above it & "CALIFORNIA, U.S.A" below it. It then fades to a slide with a red bus outside of a set in Universal Studios in Hollywood. On the top-left corner of the screen is the yellow text "When in Hollywood Visit Universal Studios".
- A variant of this had "(Ask for Babs)" fade in under the text. This a reference to the 1978 comedy National Lampoon's Animal House, where the character Barbara "Babs" Jensen became a tour guide at Universal Studios. Animal House director John Landis would use this variant at the end of all the movies he did for Universal.; such examples include The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In London (the theatrical release only. All home video releases and TV broadcasts edit it out with the exception of a 2001 VHS release), Into The Night, and Amazon Women On The Moon. If you did ask for "Babs", you would have likely gotten a discount or free entry to Universal Studios according to this source. In 1989, Universal announced that they would no longer be giving out free entries or discounts.
- Another variant also lacked the "PRODUCED AT" & "CALIFORNIA U.S.A" text.
- A rare French variant of this has the circle logo zoom in, then the text "UNE PRODUCTION" and "DES STUDIOS UNIVERSAL, CALIFORNIE U.S.A" and "LE RENDEZ-VOUS MONDIAL DU SPECTACLE" appears. The logo doesn't fade into the bus set here.
Technique: Live-action for the globe, combined with 2D animation for the Van Allen belts, and fading effects for the text. This was very advanced for the 1960s, and its longevity is impressive, especially considering how computerized logos were making their debut during the 1980s.
Music/Sounds: None or occasionally the opening theme of the movie. Such memorable instances include Father Goose (composed by Nelson Riddle), The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Scarface (1983), The Dark Crystal, and The Night Walker (both composed by Vic Mizzy). The opening tag from the latter film was also heard in abridged form on The World of Abbott and Costello. The 1972 feature length pilot of the TV series Emergency! used a dramatic, drum-driven fanfare based upon the series' theme.
- On the US DVD of the Battlestar Galactica movie (which is really the pilot episode "Saga of a Star World" released as a theatrical film in Europe), the 1963 logo is heard with the CIC fanfare.
- On the 1984 MCA Home Video VHS of The Man Who Knew Too Much and a 1984 German ARD airing of The Trouble with Harry (1955), this logo has the Paramount/VistaVision music, which surprisingly fits quite well.
- Sometimes, it used an updated version of the 1936-1947 fanfare (composed by Miklos Rosza for the 1982 film Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid); this tune was mostly heard over the logo of Universal Pay Television.
- On a print of The Projected Man featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the logo curiously uses the Les Baxter-composed fanfare from the 1960-1963 American International Pictures logo (which was actually used for the logo of a British company called Compton Films, also the UK distributor). However, the Shout! Factory Blu-ray just uses the opening theme.
Availability: Common; was used for a total of 27 years, making it the longest-used logo since the classic era of movies.
- This logo made its theatrical debut on Charade, released on December 5, 1963, and made its last regular appearance on Bird on a Wire, released on May 18, 1990.
- This was never plastered over (the 20th Anniversary version of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial does plaster this with a special variant of the 1997 Universal logo; however, the 1982 variation is still seen on the 1988 and 1996 VHS releases, the theatrical DVD and Blu-ray, and airings on HBO and Cinemax, as well as the 2015 Nickelodeon airing).
- The "PRESENTS" variation of the logo is seen on Silent Running and Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, followed by the "a GERRY ANDERSON CENTURY 21 CINEMA PRODUCTION" logo.
- Strangely, on Airport, this logo is seen after the end credits with the opening P.A. track for the film playing over it (pan-and-scan releases apparently had the logo and track at the start of the film, if the 1981 MCA Videocassette, Inc. release is anything to go by). A similar occurrence appeared on John Carpenter's The Thing (without any audio; this time around, the Universal logo remains at the end, even on pan-and-scan prints).
- This logo is also seen on the Don Bluth/George Lucas and Steven Spielberg productions An American Tail, The Land Before Time, and the Paul Newman comedy Slap Shot. A sped-up or cut-short version was seen on a few trailers from 1985-1990 (including those for all 3 Back to the Future films, the last of which actually uses the 9th logo), but most went without it.
- This logo was not originally seen on the following films (recent releases of some of these films have this logo added on at the start, however): The Electric Horseman, 1941, The Blues Brothers, Torn Curtain, Family Plot, and Frenzy. The Emergency! version can be found only on the pilot episode, available as part of the season 1 DVD set. (The episode is not rerun as part of the series' syndication package.)
- The original 1963 version of this logo makes a surprise appearance on the trailer for By The Sea.
- The 1971 logo was also retained on the 30th Anniversary theatrical re-release of Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II.
- It is unknown if this appears on any prints of Watchers.
- It appeared on theatrical prints of Associated Film Distribution titles they purchased the rights to; however, most home video, TV and/or streaming prints edit the logo out (since Universal only had theatrical rights; ITC Entertainment or other successor companies retained all other rights). On Golden Pond, for instance, had this logo on theatrical prints, but most video prints have this logo omitted (it does appear on the 1987 Mexican VideoVisa VHS release, however). Similarly, it was also seen on the theatrical release and an HBO airing of The Great Muppet Caper, but all home video releases of the film delete the logo. Conversely, the scope variant was deleted from Jim Henson Video's VHS of The Dark Crystal, but is still intact on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's VHS and DVD releases of the film; the original Thorn EMI Video also retained it.
- The closing variant is common on VHS and laserdisc releases, but extremely rare on DVD and Blu-ray.
- It was found on some trailers for Back to the Future: Part III, Ghost Dad, Jetsons: The Movie, Problem Child, and Darkman, all of which ultimately used the next logo.
- The closing variant was spotted on the Japanese Laserdisc of Back to the Future.
Legacy: Another iconic logo, one that lasted 27 years, making it one of the longest-used logos in film.
9th Logo (May 25, 1990-June 18, 1997)
Logo: A large flash appears from the far right side of the Universal globe, which is on a new, detailed starfield background. We move around the globe as the flash dims away and see the shiny golden word "UNIVERSAL", in a brand new font (in Copperplate Gothic Bold), appears from behind the globe and circling it. We zoom out and the globe moves to the center, as the word "UNIVERSAL" straightens itself out and takes its place across the globe. The byline "AN MCA COMPANY", in gold and in spaced-out letters to fit the width of "UNIVERSAL", appears below the logo.
- For the logo's debut and its first official year (1990), the initial version of this logo is different from the one used afterwards. It begins with clips of the 5th and 6th logos, ending with the 8th logo as if it were a grand unveiling or passing of the torch. This is followed by the new logo animation, which, at the end, has the words "75th ANNIVERSARY" on top of it, with "75" in the middle of "ANNIVERSARY", which is in spaced-out letters like the MCA byline, and written out in script with "th" flashing in next to "75".
- On some widescreen films such as Far and Away, the logo is zoomed out further than normal.
- On The Hard Way, the 75th anniversary logo has the widescreen in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.
- A variant without any text besides the Universal lettering exists.
Technique: Contrary to popular belief, this logo was not done in CGI, but was produced using models filmed with motion control. The globe and letters were shot at the Chandler Group, and the background was originally a painting by Eric Von Schmidt. The compositing and byline were done by Studio Productions (now Flip Your Lid Animation), who also created the logos for Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox in 1986 and 1993, respectively. The whole thing was done in 70mm, and is the first regular logo of any major studio created specifically for large format.
Music/Sounds: A majestic orchestral fanfare composed by James Horner.
- A French horn fanfare is heard during the first half of the 75th Anniversary logo before segueing into the normal theme (albeit with some differences from the 1991 version, such as the music not "ending" at the fade-out). A faster version of this interlude was later used as the 1991 Universal Television theme.
- The 75th Anniversary logo is silent on the 1991 Media Home Entertainment/Fox Video VHS of Closet Land.
- On Reach the Rock, the Spanish track on the Universal Blu-ray of Dazed and Confused (1993), and a TCM France airing of Casino (1995), the next logo's 1997 fanfare is heard, most likely due to a reverse plaster error.
- On AMC prints of The People Under the Stairs (1991), the 2012 fanfare is heard, once again due to a reverse plastering error.
- On a Russian dub of Happy Gilmore, older HBO airings of Jungle Fever, AMC's print of Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood, and the Blu-ray of Backdraft (the latter when you select the Turkish track), the fanfare is in a lower pitch.
- Sometimes, the logo is silent.
Availability: Uncommon, but still somewhat easy to find. Was used on all Universal releases of the era, such as Cape Fear, Army of Darkness, Carlito's Way, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Casino, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Casper, and Waterworld, among others.
- This logo made its theatrical debut on Back to the Future Part III, released on May 25, 1990, and made its final appearance on McHale's Navy, released on April 18, 1997.
- The final film to use the 75th Anniversary version was A Kiss Before Dying, released on April 26, 1991.
- Recently, it was also seen on Commandments (released by Gramercy Pictures) and the 1997 TV film Buried Alive II (the PAL DVD release has the next logo).
- The version without the "75th Anniversary" wording debuted on Backdraft (although trailers for it have the 75th Anniversary logo).
- Most prints of Mallrats (including premium network broadcasts and video releases) have this logo preceding the Gramercy Pictures logo. However, most recent prints such as the Blu-ray release have this replaced with the Focus Features logo.
- Both this and the 2012 logo precede the 1987 New Line Cinema logo on VUDU's print of Drop Dead Fred (a 1991 PolyGram/Working Title production which New Line distributed for the US; however, Universal holds international rights due to them controlling some of the pre-1996 PolyGram library). The 25th Anniversary Blu-ray from Final Cut Entertainment also retains this combo, sans the 2012 logo. It is unknown if this would have been retained on the cancelled Blu-ray release from Severin Films, or if it's intact on the Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray.
- It was found on some trailers for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Leave It to Beaver, A Simple Wish, and The Jackal, all of which ended up using the next logo.
- On the international release of Street Fighter, the logo is plastered by the Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International logo, and the opening credits are edited to credit Columbia Pictures instead; however, the globe and sky still remain.
- A portion of this logo appears about halfway through The King.
- It was seen on Comet's airing of the season 1 opening of Sliders.
- Strangely, the logo also makes a surprise appearance on Reach the Rock, with the 1997 theme.
- It was seen on the international teaser trailer of Twister, found on the Brazilian VHS of Diabolique and the Japanese Laserdisc of self-titled.
- It was originally seen on some direct-to-video and television films releases; however, the next logo plasters it on streaming platforms.
- The 2012 logo precedes the 75th anniversary variant on newer prints of Career Opportunities, meaning a total of five Universal logos are displayed before the movie begins.
Legacy: This is yet another iconic logo, despite the 75th anniversary of the studio actually being in 1987 (however, this may likely refer to the anniversary of Universal City Studios, which opened in March 15, 1915).
10th Logo (May 19, 1997-July 3, 2012)
Logo: On a black background, an arc slowly appears and brightens. A series of lights begin appearing below the arc and we see that this is another globe, looking over Europe. We move down as the lights appear all over Europe, and then Africa (the Earth's continents now have a green, yellow, and red color scheme). As we begin to zoom out, the word "UNIVERSAL", in a font similar to the last logo (this time the text is still gold, but has the inner white part of the text rising out of a gold outline), rotates to the front of the globe as the lights emanating from the continents dim out. By this time, the globe is shining from the back.
Trivia: The logo was introduced to coincide with the rebranding of MCA, Inc. as Universal Studios, Inc. on December 9, 1996 - and in fact the logo technically debuted in print form on the same day.
Alternate Descriptive Video Descriptions: Now in a black sky a sliver of sunlight crests the Earth. Rays of light shoot off the continents and a three-dimensional word orbits the planet. Universal. A web address appears. www.universalstudios.com.
- On home video releases and TV movies, the logo appears videotaped.
- There is a shorter version of this logo, beginning as the "UNIVERSAL" text slides in over the globe, with a shortened version of the fanfare. This is usually found at the end of documentaries produced for DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment, with a URL for Universal's website. It also appears on some video games, such as the PS2, PSP, Xbox, GameCube, and Windows versions of Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, without the URL and with the copyright stamp, except for the PSP version.
- The very first versions of the logo contained a small copyright notice in the bottom-right corner set in Gill Sans, which reads "©1997 Universal City Studios, Inc.".
- From 1998 to October 26, 2001, December 21, 2001 to February 22, 2002, and from April 19, 2002 to 2010, the URL "www.universalstudios.com", in an orangish color and set in the Charcoal typeface (a Macintosh font), fades in at the end. In the 1998-1999 URL variant, the copyright information fades in with the URL; however, the copyright was removed by 1999.
- Sometimes, on scope films, either the URL or the NBC Universal byline is pushed up to the light on the globe.
- An early version of the 1998 URL variant had the URL and copyright stamp in the Univers typeface.
- Sometimes, the logo appears closer at first, but then as the animation progresses, it zooms back.
- The biggest variation came on November 21, 2001, when the studio celebrated the 20th anniversary of the most successful film of 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The logo animates as normal until the very end, when the "UNIVERSAL" text fades out and the silhouette of E.T. and Elliott, on their bike, fly across the shining globe. Text appears on the bottom, "UNIVERSAL STUDIOS CELEBRATES E.T. THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY" with "E.T." in its original logo font. This was used on November 21, 2001 on Spy Game, February 19, 2002 on the VHS of Balto II: Wolf Quest, February 22, 2002 on Dragonfly, and March 22, 2002 on the 20th Anniversary edition of E.T.
- There is a different version where it just says "E.T. THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY". In this version, "THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY" is in a different font and a small copyright notice appears at the bottom-right, which reads "©2001 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS". This version was used on 40 Days and 40 Nights and on the premiere of 20th anniversary E.T. re-release at the Shrine Auditorium on March 16, 2002. It also appears on the VHS release of K-PAX, as well as the Canadian VHS releases of A Beautiful Mind and Big Fat Liar. Shortly afterwards, beginning with The Scorpion King, the normal logo was reinstated.
- In 2002, the globe was graphically enhanced with a darker color, and in 2005, it would appear rotating below the arc in the beginning of the logo. Also, the light rays are darker and the shadow appears at the same time as the website URL, which is now set in the Geneva typeface. Universal would use this as the main variant starting with The Wedding Date in 2005.
- Another variant has a darker mood. The presentation is the same as usual, except the initial darkness of the globe is darker than usual (pay close attention to that). Then, after the word "UNIVERSAL" is rotated from behind, either a darker, thicker shadow suddenly pops out, then gets brighter than normal towards the end after it locks in position. The entire globe zooms out farther than its intended mark, and instead of slowing to a stop, it stops hard in its far-back position. The globe appears much further back in letterbox format. This variant can be found on 8 Mile, American Wedding, Seabiscuit, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, The Bourne Supremacy, and White Noise. The variant with the NBC Universal byline (and no shadow) can be seen on stereoscopic 3D prints of Despicable Me (the 2D prints use the normal variant with the NBC Universal byline).
- On 4:3 prints of films from 2003 until 2012, starting with Peter Pan and ending with Wanderlust, the logo zooms out to a much farther distance than usual. This is because the films are shot in a 1.66:1 ratio, and framed for 2.39:1 scope.
- In 2008, the original 1997 version of this logo was remastered for digital releases.
- Starting in 2009, the URL was removed in favor of the byline "A DIVISION OF NBC UNIVERSAL", also in an orangish color and in the Copperplate Gothic typeface, which fades in toward the end. The byline was also added to the logo of Universal's television division at the time, Universal Media Studios.
- On some films, such as Munich, Nanny McPhee Returns, and TV broadcasts of Despicable Me (excluding Disney Channel and in Canada), the logo is bylineless.
- On German movies such as One Way (2006) and The Coming Days (2010), the 1999 variant is used, but "UNIVERSAL PICTURES" in an orangish color and the Univers typeface fades in.
- Since 2004, this logo was used on licensed games (due to the closure of Universal Interactive). It's either the still print logo on a black or white background (mainly for GBA, NDS, and mobile games), or just the last part with the shining; however, a very few amount of titles use the entire animation. Sometimes, it replaced the Universal Interactive logo on earlier games like The Grinch.
- On Curious George and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, the logo is brighter.
- On the promo of Universal Orlando Florida, the URL www.universalstudios.com is replaced with www.universalorlando.com.
Closing Variants: On the pre-2006 international home entertainment prints of Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie as Rapunzel, the first version of the logo appears in the last few seconds.
Music/Sounds: It starts with a powerful, majestic French horn fanfare, followed by two percussion hits. Then, another French horn fanfare, followed by two more hits. Then, a very majestic orchestral fanfare (which adds in more brass instruments, strings, and drums) as the logo is completed, with the French horn theme coming back near the end. This was composed by Jerry Goldsmith (who was also the composer for the Carolco Pictures, Cinergi Pictures and C2 Pictures fanfares, and the themes from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: Voyager.).
- From November 21, 2001 to March 22, 2002, the music was changed in an arrangement by John Williams to go with the customized E.T. logo; there is only one horn fanfare/hits sequence, followed by the end fanfare. This then segues into the theme from E.T. as he and Elliott fly across the globe.
- On April 19, 2002, there was a re-orchestration of the 1997 fanfare, again in an arrangement by John Williams. It has the same melody, but like the E.T. logo, it is in a different key and sounds more "powerful" with added drums; this version made its only appearance on The Scorpion King (the first film released after the E.T. variant ceased usage).
- On some prints of Tremors II and international Blu-ray releases of The American President and Strange Days, the 1990 fanfare from the previous logo is heard due to a plastering error (Syfy prints have the correct 1997 fanfare). This error is also present on a Polish broadcast of We're Back!: A Dinosaur's Story.
- On a Foxtel Movies print of The Hurricane, the second horn theme (which normally comes out of the right channel) is omitted, likely due to a mastering mistake.
- On The Lost World: Jurassic Park (the logo's debut film) and some prints of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), the fanfare is slightly re-orchestrated.
- On Phil's Dance Party (albeit as a variant) and Freeform prints of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000), the music from the next logo is heard, appearing on the latter due to bad plastering.
- On Vudu prints of Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, streaming prints of pre-2006 Barbie DTV movies, a French television airing of The Green Mile, AMC prints of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and a promo for Universal Studios Orlando, the logo's music is in a lower pitch.
- On Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a 8-bit rendition of the fanfare is heard. According to the storyboards of this film, it was supposed to have a bass rumble, a guitar squall and drums, drumming over the 16-bit logo. The logo's regular music was used when Lucas Lee (played by Chris Evans) comes out of his green room for the shooting of his film, in which the hits and the last note are synced to his actions, such as cracking his neck, using his skateboard and landing on his feet at the scene. However, the logo's regular music is used on a still version of this logo (in low quality to match the game's visuals) in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Video Game and the next logo (without the Comcast byline) in the Definitive Edition.
- On some films, the opening theme of the movie is used instead, or the theme is done differently.
- On a Criterion Collection release of a film using this logo, the current Criterion Collection logo played a portion of the logo's fanfare because of bad plastering.
- On some films, such as The Soloist, the music is PAL-pitched.
Availability: Very common. Appears on all Universal films from the era.
- This logo first appeared on The Lost World: Jurassic Park (although the trailers, TV spots and a featurette use the previous logo) and made its final theatrical appearance on Wanderlust.
- This logo also precedes releases originally without this logo on video (and served as a de facto home entertainment logo), before direct-to-home media content (like An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars), TV shows (like The Office) and occasionally on cable channels, usually on made-for-TV movies (and as a result of that, sometimes deletes USA Cable Entertainment and other Universal Television-related logos at the end).
- Also seen on new prints of The Blues Brothers (the theatrical cut only, the expanded version actually uses the 1963 logo), Tremors (replacing the 9th Logo), The American President, a PAL DVD release of The Shadow and Strange Days (Blu-ray international prints). It was also seen on the 1999 DVD of The Last Starfighter, plastering the 10th and Lorimar logos.
- It was also found on some trailers for Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, Battleship, American Reunion, The Five-Year Engagement, and Snow White & The Huntsman (with the movies themselves using the next logo).
- BBC One UK airings of The Watcher (2000) retains the logo, following the Wonderful World of Disney intro.
- It was also seen on Comet's airing and streaming platforms of Season 3 to 5 opening of Sliders.
- The logo also appeared in some video games, with the full version, the short version, or even the still version.
- The only two Illumination films to use this were Despicable Me (the company's debut film) and Hop (albeit as a variant). Starting with Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, the next logo is used.
- Strangely, it appeared on the 2000 British VHS release of Rambo: First Blood Part II instead of the TriStar logo, including the other Carolco films that have releases in other countries on Blu-ray and DVD.
Legacy: Another iconic Universal logo.
11th Logo (February 19, 2012- )
Logo: On a black starry background, as the sun shines on the planet, the camera pans backwards across Europe and Africa. Then "UNIVERSAL" in white with golden bordering, in the font from the previous logo (now redone in sans serif) rises upward as the sun pans down, and light glows on the continents. Then the screen eases back to its familiar position. The continents glow as the globe revolves showing the Americas. The sun shines, leaving a glow behind the Earth. Then the byline, "A COMCAST COMPANY" fades in underneath. The "UNIVERSAL" name shines before fading out.
Alternate Descriptive Video Descriptions:
- In a black star-sprinkled sky, we soar backward over Earth. As massive block letters of gold and silver orbit into view, we pass to the dark side of the planet, where the continents show the speckled electrified glow of hundreds of cities. The Earth eclipses the Sun, and a massive word hovers front and center. Universal. A Comcast Company.
- The world turns into a starry black expanse of space. The continents glow as the sun sets behind the globe. Bold silver letters outlined in gold orbit the Earth and come to rest in front of the equator. Universal. A Comcast Company.
Early Variant: Just like as they did with their 1990 logo when the company celebrated their 75th anniversary, Universal initially used a special variant of this logo on the year they celebrated their centennial milestone. The logo acts as another "grand unveiling" or "passing of the torch," as it begins with clips of the previous logos of the company's history, beginning with the 5th Logo and finishing with the previous logo; in which the current logo makes its majestic debut shortly afterwards, as shown below. The logo with the montage was only used as a promotional video for their 100th year.
- A prototype version exists as seen on the behind-the-scenes videos of the logo being composed below. Noticeable differences include the logo being entirely in daytime, a different space background, a slightly different wordmark and an unfinished atmosphere, with the text even clipping through it.
- For the logo's debut and its first official year (2012), the 100th Anniversary variant of the logo has the "U" in "UNIVERSAL" revealing the text "100TH ANNIVERSARY" in gold below it, which is seen moving with the "UNIVERSAL" text.
- On Blu-ray discs, there is a letterboxed version with the text "Loading a Fresh Preview from the Internet" added on the top black border. This pops up when a preview is loading from online while the viewer is using BD Live.
- There is a 4:3 version of the logo seen on certain fullscreen Paramount films from 1929–1949 (part of the EMKA library) and the 2018 Blu-ray releases and Freeform broadcasts of the Universal-owned Rankin/Bass productions Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and Frosty the Snowman as well as fullscreen prints of films starting with Mama (the last film to use the "100TH ANNIVERSARY" variant of the logo).
- A still version appears on licensed movie games, such as Battleship, American Ninja Warrior Challenge and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Video Game Definitive Edition, with the former in its "100TH ANNIVERSARY" variant and the latter in low quality to match the game's visuals, without the Comcast byline and the 1997 fanfare. It also appears at the end of 1917.
- A shorter version exists, which is seen at the beginning of 1917, No Time to Die and both A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Journey.
- On the cover video of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Canada's Facebook page, the globe is rotating as it shines, and the stars are twinkling in the background. A sped-up version can be found on the Universal Studios and Universal Pictures websites.
- A short version of the above variant exists on the Criterion Collection Blu-ray of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), plastering the Paramount logo.
- The tinting in the logo may vary, sometimes it has a bluish, greenish or purplish tint.
- The full animation as transcribed above was seen at the end of American Made.
- At the end of 1917, the logo is a still image, as transcribed above.
- More commonly, no closing logo appears at all.
Technique: CGI by Wētā FX.
Music/Sounds: A powerful, reorchestrated version of the previous logo's fanfare, accompanied by "a choir, new string parts, and drum cadence utilizing world percussion instruments", according to the Hollywood Reporter. Arranged by Brian Tyler and recorded at the Barbara Streisand Scoring Stage at Sony Pictures Studios. A behind the scenes video of making the fanfare can be viewed here. Tyler also uploaded a retrospective video, which can be viewed here, and the full version of the fanfare, which is also heard before the start of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories, as well as the first two videos, which can be heard here. If you look closely at the first two videos, there was a prototype version of the logo while Tyler is conducting the fanfare, as transcribed above. The end part of the fanfare can also be heard at the end of the videos (besides trailers) on the the studio's YouTube channel.
- On the 100th Anniversary logo variant, "One Last Wish" from Casper, composed by James Horner, is used during the montage. Furthermore, in Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories, the fanfare carries over from the former.
- On Disney Channel and Freeform's airings of Big Fat Liar and a TCM Spain airing of The Trouble with Harry, the previous logo's music is heard with this logo, due to sloppy plastering.
- On the 2012 Blu-ray of Vertigo, it uses the 1990 fanfare.
- Some films with this logo use the movie's opening theme instead, or have the theme done differently.
- At the end of American Made and 1917, the logo is silent, and it has the ending theme of the film playing over the logo in the TV airings of the former. The still version is also silent.
Availability: Current and very common. It can be seen on newer films from the company.
- The 100th anniversary logo was first unveiled on January 10, 2012, and is currently available on Universal's YouTube channel. It made its theatrical debut with Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (also the first Illumination film to use it, although trailers and TV spots for it had the previous logo) and made its last appearance on Mama. It was also seen on the Australian film Mental.
- The version without the "100TH ANNIVERSARY" wording debuted theatrically on Identity Thief, although it previously appeared at the end of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories at Universal Studios Florida, on Illumination films starting with Despicable Me 2, DreamWorks Animation films starting with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, on trailers for movies released in 2013, and on the 2012 Blu-ray release of Vertigo.
- This has plastered the 1997 logo on an airing of The Perfect Man on TBS and Big Fat Liar on Disney Channel and Freeform with the previous logo's fanfare.
- It has also been used as a de-facto home entertainment logo since 2012, except on 2012-17 Illumination films, where they go straight to the previews.
- This logo also appears on international prints of MGM films (the ones distributed by United Artists Releasing) from 2019 to 2022 (with the exceptions of Wrath of Man and Dog, as those films where handled by different international distributors), as well as many international prints of post-2012 Focus Features films.
- This logo also appears on reprints of DreamWorks Animation films, plastering the 2002 and 2011 Paramount Pictures logos and the final 20th Century Fox logo, starting in 2018, and on newer films from said studio in 2019, beginning with the aforementioned How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. For South Korean releases, this logo plasters the CJ Entertainment logo, as CJ distributed DWA's films there. Universal does not use a closing variant on these new prints, unlike previous distributors Paramount and Fox.
- It also appeared on anime shows distributed by NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan that are licensed by Funimation, as well as games like Jurassic World: Evolution, Jurassic World: Evolution 2, Fast & Furious: Showdown and Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious.
- Since 2021, this logo appears before the 2021 Warner Bros. Pictures logo in theatrical prints of Warner Bros. films in Hong Kong.
- It precedes the Huayi Brothers logo on American prints of CZ12.
- This logo may or may not be plastered, or preceded by the Toho logo on Japanese prints of Universal-era Legendary Pictures features distributed by Toho in Japan.
Legacy: Considered a very worthy update of the 1990 and 1997 logos.
Here is some information about the copyright stamps on the Universal Pictures films:
- 1925-1935: Copyright © by Universal Pictures Corporation.
- 1936-1937: Copyright © by Universal Productions, Inc.
- 1937-1966: Copyright © by Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
- 1966-1977: Copyright © by Universal Pictures.
- 1977-1998: Copyright © by Universal City Studios, Inc.
- 1999-present: Copyright © by Universal Studios.
The logo is also credited at the end of nearly every Universal film and short since 1999 (except for DreamWorks Animation releases from 2019 onward) as "ANIMATED UNIVERSAL STUDIOS LOGO © (Year) Universal Studios" or "Animated Universal Studios Logo © (Year)". Special versions of this include "ANIMATED E.T. 20TH ANNIVERSARY LOGO © 2001 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS" and "ANIMATED UNIVERSAL CENTENNIAL LOGO © 2012 Universal Studios".