What’s In a Logo?

I’m approaching the level of movie geekdom where I sometimes start to judge a movie based on the opening studio logo and opening credits.  I know that with each film the credits can play an integral role in setting the tone (Bond films being one shining example) while other credits simply take the time to say the name of the movie.  Steven Spielberg rarely does a full credit sequence, Woody Allen lists the entire cast, and Jonathan Demme lists practically everyone involved with the picture.  Even before the credits roll the studio logo is what first signals that the movie is starting.  Much like an overture in a musical, I believe once the logo starts the movie has begun and everyone better pay attention.

I’ve found that many European films that could have a multitude of different producers can have a hefty amount of producing house logos.  By the seventh or eigth pre-credit logo it becomes almost comical — it all seems like a huge build-up for another adaptation of a Jane Austen novel or a samurai epic.

I love it when studios change up their logos and do something creative/unique/special with them to coincide with a release.  Warner Bros is one studio that sticks out for changing up their color scheme and sequencing for certain films.  David Fincher famously convinced Paramount and Warner Brothers to use their logos from the 70’s when he released Zodiac several years back.  Filmmakers like Fincher make these brilliant choices because right away the audience was transported back to a different era where the events of that movie took place.

Two studios are celebrating their 100th anniversaries this year and are trotting out new logos to commemorate the occasion.  Paramount Pictures has already released its 100th Anniversary logo staring with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol back in December while Universal is debuting its new look before Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax this coming weekend.  In honor of this occasion I thought I’d take a quick look back at the evolution of their logos over the last 100 years.


I’ve always been partial to Paramount’s “Majestic Mountain” visage over the years.  It has a certain regal-ness to it that doesn’t require great fanfare (like 20th Century Fox) and it’s nice that there hasn’t been too much variation over the years.  Some of the movies I’m most familiar with use the logo from 1968-1975 and even the ’75-’87 logo used the previous one before blending into the ice blue shadow version.  The update in ’87 utilized some new techniques that were fine tuned when the logo changed again in ’03.  The new logo is a smooth, crisp update for the centennial year and should carry Paramount forward as it looks toward the next 100 years.  Check out the full intro below:


Ah…the good old Universal globe.  This logo seems to have had the fullest transitions over the years.  While Paramount has stuck with primarily the same sequence, Universal seems to find new ways to display their globe and it usually is very topical and “of the time”.  The glittering art deco globe (#5 in the sequence below) is a nice reminder of an age where movie-going was an event and people dressed up to see a movie on a Saturday night.  It’s a far cry from the cell phone noise, loud patrons, and crying babies we have to deal with now.  I’m sure the rude people were always there, but I like to think back then people were of a different mindset to popular entertainment.

I’ll always love the Universal logo from the 70’s and 80’s…I saw it so often watching Jaws that I could time exactly how many of the rings you could see when the brilliant underwater sound design started.  The most recent two updates have been creative updates and I’m looking forward to seeing what this beautiful new logo looks like on the big screen (yes, I’ll even see The Lorax in 3D just to experience it firsthand).

Here is a close-up view of the new Universal Logo:

In a future column I’ll take a look at the logos for other studios and show their evolution over the years.  Some of the studios had bang-up logos in the classic days and I feel like there is a return to that innovative design in our new age and advances in technology.  There are a few studios that could use an update (Warner Brothers and Columbia/Sony for instance) and I’ll be interested to see if more revamps are on the way!

So what about you?  Are there logos that you are partial to?  Are there any special movies that the logos have been changed up for that were creative?

Oh…and don’t forget to vote in my poll!