1.1 Early years
1.2 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
1.3 Keeping leadership of the studio in the family
1.4 The Laemmles lose control
1.5 Universal-International and
Decca Records takes control 1.6 MCA takes over 1.7 Matsushita, Seagram, Vivendi
Vivendi and NBCUniversal 1.8 Comcast
Comcast era (2011–present)
Film series 3.2 Highest-grossing films
4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links
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.mw-parser-output .tmulti .thumbcaption text-align:center Carl
LaemmleMark Dintenfass, co-founder of Universal
Universal Studios was founded by Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass,
Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David
Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane[a] and Jules Brulatour. One story
has Laemmle watching a box office for hours, counting patrons and
calculating the day's takings. Within weeks of his Chicago trip,
Laemmle gave up dry goods to buy the first several nickelodeons. For
Laemmle and other such entrepreneurs, the creation in 1908 of the
Edison-backed Motion Picture Trust meant that exhibitors were expected
to pay fees for Trust-produced films they showed. Based on the Latham
Loop used in cameras and projectors, along with other patents, the
Trust collected fees on all aspects of movie production and
exhibition, and attempted to enforce a monopoly on distribution.
Soon, Laemmle and other disgruntled nickelodeon owners decided to
avoid paying Edison by producing their own pictures. In June 1909,
Laemmle started the Yankee
Film Company with partners Abe Stern
Abe Stern and Julius Stern. That company quickly evolved into the Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP), with studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many early films in America's first motion picture industry were produced in the early 20th century. Laemmle broke with Edison's custom of refusing to give billing and screen credits to performers. By naming the movie stars, he attracted many of the leading players of the time, contributing to the creation of the star system. In 1910, he promoted Florence Lawrence, formerly known as "The Biograph Girl", and actor King Baggot, in what may be the first instance of a studio using stars in its marketing.
Poster for Ivanhoe (1913)
Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Laemmle, who emerged as president in July 1912, was the primary figure in the partnership with Dintenfass, Baumann, Kessel, Powers, Swanson, Horsley, and Brulatour. Eventually all would be bought out by Laemmle. The new Universal studio was a vertically integrated company, with movie production, distribution and exhibition venues all linked in the same corporate entity, the central element of the Studio system era.
Melodrama A Great Love (1916) by Clifford S. Elfelt for Universal Big U. Dutch intertitles, 12:33. Collection EYE Film Institute Netherlands. Following the westward trend of the industry, by the end of 1912 the company was focusing its production efforts in the Hollywood
Hollywood area. On March 15, 1915,:8 Laemmle opened the world's largest motion picture production facility, Universal City Studios, on a 230-acre (0.9-km²) converted farm just over the Cahuenga Pass
Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood. Studio management became the third facet of Universal's operations, with the studio incorporated as a distinct subsidiary organization. Unlike other movie moguls, Laemmle opened his studio to tourists. Universal became the largest studio in Hollywood, and remained so for a decade. However, it sought an audience mostly in small towns, producing mostly inexpensive melodramas, westerns and serials. In its early years Universal released three brands of feature films—Red Feather, low-budget programmers; Bluebird, more ambitious productions; and Jewel, their prestige motion pictures. Directors included Jack Conway, John Ford, Rex Ingram, Robert Z. Leonard, George Marshall and Lois Weber, one of the few women directing films in Hollywood.:13 Despite Laemmle's role as an innovator, he was an extremely cautious studio chief. Unlike rivals Adolph Zukor, William Fox, and Marcus Loew, Laemmle chose not to develop a theater chain. He also financed all of his own films, refusing to take on debt. This policy nearly bankrupted the studio when actor-director Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim insisted on excessively lavish production values for his films Blind Husbands (1919) and Foolish Wives
Foolish Wives (1922), but Universal shrewdly gained a return on some of the expenditure by launching a sensational ad campaign that attracted moviegoers. Character actor
Character actor Lon Chaney became a drawing card for Universal in the 1920s, appearing steadily in dramas. His two biggest hits for Universal were The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925). During this period Laemmle entrusted most of the production policy decisions to Irving Thalberg. Thalberg had been Laemmle's personal secretary, and Laemmle was impressed by his cogent observations of how efficiently the studio could be operated. Promoted to studio chief, Thalberg was giving Universal's product a touch of class, but MGM's head of production Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer lured Thalberg away from Universal with a promise of better pay. Without his guidance Universal became a second-tier studio, and would remain so for several decades. In 1926, Universal opened a production unit in Germany, Deutsche Universal- Film
Film AG, under the direction of Joe Pasternak. This unit produced three to four films per year until 1936, migrating to Hungary and then Austria in the face of Hitler's increasing domination of central Europe. With the advent of sound, these productions were made in the German language or, occasionally, Hungarian or Polish. In the U.S., Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures did not distribute any of this subsidiary's films, but at least some of them were exhibited through other, independent, foreign-language film distributors based in New York, without benefit of English subtitles. Nazi persecution and a change in ownership for the parent Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures organization resulted in the dissolution of this subsidiary. In the early years, Universal had a "clean picture" policy. However, by April 1927, Carl Laemmle
Carl Laemmle considered this to be a mistake as "unclean pictures" from other studios were generating more profit while Universal was losing money.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
In early 1927, Universal had been negotiating deals with cartoon
producers since they wanted to get back into producing them. On March
Charles Mintz signed a contract with Universal in the presence of
its vice president, R. H. Cochrane. Mintz's company, Winkler Pictures,
was to produce 26 "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" cartoons for
Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks
Ub Iwerks created the character and the Walt Disney
Walt Disney Studio provided the animation for the cartoons under Winkler's supervision. The films enjoyed a successful theatrical run, and Mintz would sign a contract with Universal ensuring three more years of Oswald cartoons. However, after Mintz had unsuccessfully demanded that Disney accept a lower fee for producing the films, Mintz took most of Walt's animators to work at his own studio. Disney and Iwerks would create Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse in secret while they finished the remaining Oswald films they were contractually obligated to finish. Universal subsequently severed its link to Mintz and formed its own in-house animation studio to produce Oswald cartoons headed by Walter Lantz. In February 2006, NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal sold all the Disney-animated Oswald cartoons, along with the rights to the character himself, to The Walt Disney Company. In return, Disney released ABC sportscaster Al Michaels from his contract so he could work on NBC's recently acquired Sunday night NFL football package. Universal retained ownership of the remaining Oswald cartoons.
Keeping leadership of the studio in the family
Boris Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) In 1928, Laemmle, Sr. made his son, Carl, Jr. head of Universal Pictures as a 21st birthday present. Universal already had a reputation for nepotism—at one time, 70 of Carl, Sr.'s relatives were supposedly on the payroll. Many of them were nephews, resulting in Carl, Sr. being known around the studios as "Uncle Carl." Ogden Nash famously quipped in rhyme, "Uncle Carl Laemmle/Has a very large faemmle." Among these relatives was future Academy Award-winning director/producer William Wyler. "Junior" Laemmle persuaded his father to bring Universal up to date. He bought and built theaters, converted the studio to sound production, and made several forays into high-quality production. His early efforts included the critically panned part-talkie version of Edna Ferber's novel Show Boat (1929), the lavish musical Broadway (1929) which included Technicolor
Technicolor sequences; and the first all-color musical feature (for Universal), King of Jazz
King of Jazz (1930). The more serious All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), won its year's Best Picture Oscar. Laemmle, Jr. created a niche for the studio, beginning a series of horror films which extended into the 1940s, affectionately dubbed Universal Horror. Among them are Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933). Other Laemmle productions of this period include Imitation of Life (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936).
The Laemmles lose control
Universal's forays into high-quality production spelled the end of the
Laemmle era at the studio. Taking on the task of modernizing and
upgrading a film conglomerate in the depths of the depression was
risky, and for a time Universal slipped into receivership. The theater
chain was scrapped, but Carl, Jr. held fast to distribution, studio
and production operations.
The end for the Laemmles came with a lavish version of Show Boat
(1936), a remake of its earlier 1929 part-talkie production, and
produced as a high-quality, big-budget film rather than as a
B-picture. The new film featured several stars from the Broadway stage
version, which began production in late 1935, and unlike the 1929 film
was based on the Broadway musical rather than the novel. Carl, Jr.'s
spending habits alarmed company stockholders. They would not allow
production to start on Show Boat unless the Laemmles obtained a loan.
Universal was forced to seek a $750,000 production loan from the
Standard Capital Corporation, pledging the Laemmle family's
controlling interest in Universal as collateral. It was the first time
Universal had borrowed money for a production in its 26-year history.
The production went $300,000 over budget; Standard called in the loan,
cash-strapped Universal could not pay, Standard foreclosed and seized
control of the studio on April 2, 1936.
Although Universal's 1936 Show Boat (released a little over a month
later) became a critical and financial success, it was not enough to
save the Laemmles' involvement with the studio. They were
unceremoniously removed from the company they had founded. Because the
Laemmles personally oversaw production, Show Boat was released
(despite the takeover) with
Carl Laemmle and Carl Laemmle
Carl Laemmle Jr.'s names on the credits and in the advertising campaign of the film. Standard Capital's J. Cheever Cowdin had taken over as president and chairman of the board of directors, and instituted severe cuts in production budgets. Gone were the big ambitions, and though Universal had a few big names under contract, those it had been cultivating, like William Wyler and Margaret Sullavan, left. Meanwhile, producer Joe Pasternak, who had been successfully producing light musicals with young sopranos for Universal's German subsidiary, repeated his formula in America. Teenage singer Deanna Durbin
Deanna Durbin starred in Pasternak's first American film, Three Smart Girls
Three Smart Girls (1936). The film was a box-office hit and reputedly resolved the studio's financial problems. The success of the film led Universal to offer her a contract, which for the first five years of her career produced her most successful pictures.
James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again
Destry Rides Again (1939) When Pasternak stopped producing Durbin's pictures, and she outgrew her screen persona and pursued more dramatic roles, the studio signed 13-year-old Gloria Jean for her own series of Pasternak musicals from 1939; she went on to star with Bing Crosby, W. C. Fields, and Donald O'Connor. A popular Universal film of the late 1930s was Destry Rides Again (1939), starring James Stewart
James Stewart as Destry and Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich in her comeback role after leaving Paramount. By the early 1940s, the company was concentrating on lower-budget productions that were the company's main staple: westerns, melodramas, serials and sequels to the studio's horror pictures, the latter now solely B pictures. The studio fostered many series: The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys action features and serials (1938–43); the comic adventures of infant Baby Sandy (1938–41); comedies with Hugh Herbert (1938–42) and The Ritz Brothers
The Ritz Brothers (1940–43); musicals with Robert Paige, Jane Frazee, The Andrews Sisters, and The Merry Macs (1938–45); and westerns with Tom Mix
Tom Mix (1932–33), Buck Jones (1933–36), Bob Baker (1938–39), Johnny Mack Brown
Johnny Mack Brown (1938–43); Rod Cameron (1944–45), and Kirby Grant
Kirby Grant (1946–47). Universal could seldom afford its own stable of stars, and often borrowed talent from other studios, or hired freelance actors. In addition to Stewart and Dietrich, Margaret Sullavan, and Bing Crosby were two of the major names that made a couple of pictures for Universal during this period. Some stars came from radio, including Edgar Bergen, W. C. Fields, and the comedy team of Abbott and Costello ( Bud Abbott
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello). Abbott and Costello's military comedy Buck Privates
Buck Privates (1941) gave the former burlesque comedians a national and international profile. During the war years Universal did have a co-production arrangement with producer Walter Wanger
Walter Wanger and his partner, director Fritz Lang, lending the studio some amount of prestige productions. Universal's core audience base was still found in the neighborhood movie theaters, and the studio continued to please the public with low- to medium-budget films. Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce
Nigel Bruce in new Sherlock Holmes mysteries (1942–46), teenage musicals with Gloria Jean, Donald O'Connor, and Peggy Ryan (1942–43), and screen adaptations of radio's Inner Sanctum Mysteries
Inner Sanctum Mysteries with Lon Chaney, Jr.
Lon Chaney, Jr. (1943–45). Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock was also borrowed for two films from Selznick International Pictures: Saboteur (1942) and Shadow of a Doubt
Shadow of a Doubt (1943). As Universal's main product had always been lower-budgeted films, it was one of the last major studios to have a contract with Technicolor. The studio did not make use of the three-strip Technicolor
Technicolor process until Arabian Nights
Arabian Nights (1942), starring Jon Hall and Maria Montez. Technicolor
Technicolor was also utilised for the studio's remake of their 1925 horror melodrama, Phantom of the Opera (1943) with Claude Rains
Claude Rains and Nelson Eddy. With the success of their first two pictures, a regular schedule of high-budget, Technicolor
Technicolor films followed.
Decca Records takes control In 1945, the British entrepreneur J. Arthur Rank, hoping to expand his American presence, bought into a four-way merger with Universal, the independent company International Pictures, and producer Kenneth Young. The new combine, United World Pictures, was a failure and was dissolved within one year. Rank and International remained interested in Universal, however, culminating in the studio's reorganization as Universal-International; the merger was announced on July 30, 1946. William Goetz, a founder of International along with Leo Spitz, was made head of production at the renamed Universal-International Pictures Inc., which also served as an import-export subsidiary, and copyright holder for the production arm's films. Goetz, a son-in-law of Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer decided to bring "prestige" to the new company. He stopped the studio's low-budget production of B movies, serials and curtailed Universal's horror and "Arabian Nights" cycles. He also reduced the studio's output from its wartime average of fifty films per year (which was nearly twice the major studio's output) to thirty-five films a year. Distribution and copyright control remained under the name of Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures Company Inc.
Play media Universal-International Studio, 1955
Goetz set out an ambitious schedule. Universal-International became
responsible for the American distribution of Rank's British
productions, including such classics as David Lean's Great
Expectations (1946) and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948). Broadening
its scope further, Universal-International branched out into the
lucrative non-theatrical field, buying a majority stake in home-movie
Castle Films in 1947, and taking the company over entirely in 1951. For three decades, Castle would offer "highlights" reels from the Universal film library to home-movie enthusiasts and collectors. Goetz licensed Universal's pre–Universal-International film library to Jack Broeder's Realart Pictures for cinema re-release but Realart was not allowed to show the films on television. The production arm of the studio still struggled. While there were to be a few hits like The Killers (1946) and The Naked City
The Naked City (1948), Universal-International's new theatrical films often met with disappointing response at the box office. By the late 1940s, Goetz was out, and the studio returned to low-budget and series films. The inexpensive Francis (1950), the first film of a series about a talking mule and Ma and Pa Kettle
Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), part of a series, became mainstays of the company. Once again, the films of Abbott and Costello, including Abbott and Costello
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), were among the studio's top-grossing productions. But at this point Rank lost interest and sold his shares to the investor Milton Rackmil, whose Decca Records
Decca Records would take full control of Universal in 1952. Besides Abbott and Costello, the studio retained the Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz cartoon studio, whose product was released with Universal-International's films. In the 1950s, Universal-International resumed their series of Arabian Nights films, many starring Tony Curtis. The studio also had a success with monster and science fiction films produced by William Alland, with many directed by Jack Arnold. Other successes were the melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk and produced by Ross Hunter, although for film critics they were not so well thought of on first release as they have since become. Among Universal-International's stable of stars were Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Jeff Chandler, Audie Murphy, and John Gavin. Although Decca would continue to keep picture budgets lean, it was favored by changing circumstances in the film business, as other studios let their contract actors go in the wake of the 1948 U.S. vs. Paramount Pictures, et al. decision. Leading actors were increasingly free to work where and when they chose, and in 1950 MCA agent Lew Wasserman made a deal with Universal for his client James Stewart
James Stewart that would change the rules of the business. Wasserman's deal gave Stewart a share in the profits of three pictures in lieu of a large salary. When one of those films, Winchester '73
Winchester '73 (1950), proved to be a hit, the arrangement would become the rule for many future productions at Universal, and eventually at other studios as well.
MCA takes over
Ceremonial gate to Universal Studios
Hollywood (the theme park attached to the studio lot) In the early 1950s, Universal set up its own distribution company in France, and in the late 1960s, the company also started a production company in Paris, Universal Productions France
France S.A., although sometimes credited by the name of the distribution company, Universal Pictures France. Except for the two first films it produced, Claude Chabrol's Le scandale (English title The Champagne Murders, 1967) and Romain Gary's Les oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou (English title Birds in Peru), it was only involved in French or other European co-productions, including Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien, Bertrand Blier's Les Valseuses (English title Going Places, 1974), and Fred Zinnemann's The Day of the Jackal (1973). It was only involved in approximately 20 French film productions. In the early 1970s, the unit was incorporated into the French Cinema International Corporation arm. By the late 1950s, the motion picture business was again changing. The combination of the studio/theater-chain break-up and the rise of television saw the reduced audience size for cinema productions. The Music Corporation of America
Music Corporation of America (MCA), the world's largest talent agency, had also become a powerful television producer, renting space at Republic Studios
Republic Studios for its Revue Productions
Revue Productions subsidiary. After a period of complete shutdown, a moribund Universal agreed to sell its 360-acre (1.5 km²) studio lot to MCA in 1958, for $11 million, renamed Revue Studios. MCA owned the studio lot, but not Universal Pictures, yet was increasingly influential on Universal's product. The studio lot was upgraded and modernized, while MCA clients like Doris Day, Lana Turner, Cary Grant, and director Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock were signed to Universal contracts. The long-awaited takeover of Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures by MCA, Inc. happened in mid-1962 as part of the MCA- Decca Records
Decca Records merger. The company reverted in name to Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures from Universal-International. As a final gesture before leaving the talent agency business, virtually every MCA client was signed to a Universal contract. In 1964, MCA formed Universal City Studios, Inc., merging the motion pictures and television arms of Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures Company and Revue Productions (officially renamed as Universal Television
Universal Television in 1966). And so, with MCA in charge, Universal became a full-blown, A-film movie studio, with leading actors and directors under contract; offering slick, commercial films; and a studio tour subsidiary launched in 1964. Television production made up much of the studio's output, with Universal heavily committed, in particular, to deals with NBC
NBC (which much later merged with Universal to form NBC
NBC Universal; see below) providing up to half of all prime time shows for several seasons. An innovation during this period championed by Universal was the made-for-television movie. In 1982, Universal became the studio base for many shows that were produced by Norman Lear's Tandem Productions/Embassy Television, including Diff'rent Strokes, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, and Silver Spoons
Silver Spoons which premiered on NBC
NBC that same fall. At this time, Hal B. Wallis, who had recently worked as a major producer at Paramount, moved over to Universal, where he produced several films, among them a lavish version of Maxwell Anderson's Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), and the equally lavish Mary, Queen of Scots (1971). Although neither could claim to be a big financial hit, both films received Academy Award
Academy Award nominations, and Anne was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Richard Burton), Best Actress (Geneviève Bujold), and Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Quayle). Wallis retired from Universal after making the film Rooster Cogburn (1975), a sequel to True Grit (1969), which Wallis had produced at Paramount. Rooster Cogburn co-starred John Wayne, reprising his Oscar-winning role from the earlier film, and Katharine Hepburn, their only film together. The film was only a moderate success. In the early 1970s, Universal teamed up with Paramount to form Cinema International Corporation, which distributed films by Paramount and Universal outside of the US and Canada. Although Universal did produce occasional hits, among them Airport (1970), The Sting
The Sting (1973), American Graffiti (also 1973), Earthquake (1974), and a big box-office success which restored the company's fortunes: Jaws (1975), Universal during the decade was primarily a television studio. When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased United Artists
United Artists in 1981, MGM
MGM could not drop out of the CIC venture to merge with United Artists
United Artists overseas operations. However, with future film productions from both names being released through the MGM/UA Entertainment plate, CIC decided to merge UA's international units with MGM
MGM and reformed as United International Pictures. There would be other film hits like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Back to the Future
Back to the Future (1985), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time
The Land Before Time (1988), Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams (1989), and Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park (1993), but the film business was financially unpredictable. UIP began distributing films by start-up studio DreamWorks in 1997, due to connections the founders have with Paramount, Universal, and Amblin Entertainment. In 2001, MGM
MGM dropped out of the UIP venture and went with 20th Century Fox's international arm to handle distribution of their titles, an arrangement which remains ongoing.
Vivendi and NBCUniversal Gate 2, Universal Studios (as it appears when closed on weekends) Anxious to expand the company's broadcast and cable presence, longtime MCA head Lew Wasserman
Lew Wasserman sought a rich partner. He located Japanese electronics manufacturer Matsushita Electric (now known as Panasonic), which agreed to acquire MCA for $6.6 billion in 1990. Matsushita provided a cash infusion, but the clash of cultures was too great to overcome, and five years later Matsushita sold an 80% stake in MCA/Universal to Canadian drinks distributor Seagram
Seagram for $5.7 billion. Seagram
Seagram sold off its stake in DuPont
DuPont to fund this expansion into the entertainment industry. Hoping to build an entertainment empire around Universal, Seagram
Seagram bought PolyGram
PolyGram in 1999 and other entertainment properties, but the fluctuating profits characteristic of Hollywood
Hollywood were no substitute for the reliable income stream gained from the previously held shares in DuPont. To raise money, Seagram
Seagram head Edgar Bronfman Jr.
Edgar Bronfman Jr. sold Universal's television holdings, including cable network USA, to Barry Diller (these same properties would be bought back later at greatly inflated prices). In June 2000, Seagram
Seagram was sold to French water utility and media company Vivendi, which owned StudioCanal; the conglomerate then became known as Vivendi
Vivendi Universal. Afterward, Universal Pictures acquired the United States
United States distribution rights of several of StudioCanal's films, such as David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001) and Brotherhood of the Wolf
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) which became the second-highest-grossing French language
French language film in the United States since 1980. Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures and StudioCanal
StudioCanal also co-produced several films, such as Love Actually
Love Actually (2003) a $40 million-budgeted film that eventually grossed $246 million worldwide. In late 2000, the New York Film
Film Academy was permitted to use the Universal Studios backlot for student film projects in an unofficial partnership. Burdened with debt, in 2004 Vivendi
Vivendi Universal sold 80% of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (including the studio and theme parks) to General Electric
General Electric (GE), parent of NBC. The resulting media super-conglomerate was renamed NBCUniversal, while Universal Studios Inc. remained the name of the production subsidiary. After that deal, GE owned 80% of NBC
NBC Universal; Vivendi
Vivendi held the remaining 20%, with an option to sell its share in 2006. In late 2005, Viacom's Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures acquired DreamWorks SKG after acquisition talks between GE and DreamWorks stalled. Universal's long-time chairperson, Stacey Snider, left the company in early 2006 to head up DreamWorks. Snider was replaced by then-Vice Chairman
Chairman Marc Shmuger and Focus Features
Focus Features head David Linde. On October 5, 2009, Marc Shmuger and David Linde were ousted and their co-chairperson jobs consolidated under former president of worldwide marketing and distribution Adam Fogelson becoming the single chairperson. Donna Langley was also upped to co-chairperson. In 2009, Stephanie Sperber founded Universal Partnerships & Licensing within Universal to license consumer products for Universal. GE purchased Vivendi's share in NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal in 2011.
Comcast era (2011–present) Gate 3 with signs for K NBC
NBC and Telemundo GE sold 51% of the company to cable provider Comcast
Comcast in 2011. Comcast merged the former GE subsidiary with its own cable-television programming assets, creating the current NBCUniversal. Following Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, the Comcast-GE deal was closed on Jan 29, 2011. In March 2013, Comcast
Comcast bought the remaining 49% of NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion. In September 2013, Adam Fogelson was ousted as co-chairman of Universal Pictures, promoting Donna Langley to sole-chairman. In addition, NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal International Chairman, Jeff Shell, would be appointed as Chairman
Chairman of the newly created Filmed Entertainment Group. Longtime studio head Ron Meyer would give up oversight of the film studio and appointed Vice Chairman
Chairman of NBCUniversal, providing consultation to CEO Steve Burke on all of the company's operations. Meyers still retains oversight of Universal Parks and Resorts. Universal's multi-year film financing deal with Elliott Management expired in 2013. In summer 2013, Universal made an agreement with Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures to distribute their films for five years starting in 2014 (the year that Legendary's similar agreement with Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Pictures ends). In June 2014, Universal Partnerships took over licensing consumer products for NBC
NBC and Sprout with expectation that all licensing would eventually be centralized within NBCUniversal. In May 2015, Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures was revived by Focus Features
Focus Features as a genre label that concentrated on action, sci-fi, and horror films. On December 16, 2015, Amblin Partners
Amblin Partners announced that it entered into a five-year distribution deal with Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures by which the films will be distributed and marketed by either Universal or Focus Features. It's unknown whether Focus Features' subsidiaries Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures and Focus World will distribute any films in the deal. In early 2016, Perfect World Pictures announced a long term co-financing deal with Universal, which represents the first time a Chinese company directly invest in a multi-year slate deal with a major U.S studio. On April 28, 2016, Universal's parent company, NBCUniversal, announced a $3.8 billion deal to buy DreamWorks Animation. On August 22, 2016, the deal was completed. Universal took over the distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation starting in 2019 with the release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, after DreamWorks Animation's distribution deal with 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox ended. On February 15, 2017, Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures acquired a minority stake in Amblin Partners, strengthening the relationship between Universal and Amblin, and reuniting a minority percentage of the DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures label with DreamWorks Animation.
Universal Cable Productions
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Universal 1440 Entertainment Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia (JV) Focus Features Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures label Focus World High Top Releasing NBCUniversal
NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan Working Title Films Illumination Illumination Mac Guff Universal Animation Studios DreamWorks Animation DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation Television DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment (merged with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) DreamWorks Classics Big Idea Entertainment Bullwinkle Studios (JV) DreamWorks New Media United International Pictures
United International Pictures (JV) Amblin Partners
Amblin Partners (minor stake) (JV) Amblin Entertainment Amblin Television DreamWorks Pictures DreamWorks Television
DreamWorks Television (merged with Amblin Television) Storyteller Distribution Film
Film library Main article: List of Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures films In addition to its own library, Universal releases the EMKA, Ltd. catalog of 1929-1949 Paramount Pictures, owned by sister company Universal Television.
Universal Monsters/Dark Universe 1923–1960; 1979; 1999; 2001; 2004; 2008; 2010; 2014; 2017; TBA co-production with Sommers Company, Alphaville, Relativity Media, Legendary Entertainment, K/O Paper Products, Perfect World Pictures, and Blumhouse Productions
Sherlock Holmes 1936–1947
Abbott and Costello 1940- 1955
Walter Lantz Studios and Universal Animation Studios
Ma and Pa Kettle 1947-1957
Francis the Talking Mule 1950-1956
Psycho 1960–1998 co-production with Paramount Pictures
The Birds 1963; 1994
King Kong 1963–present right holders only on behalf of the Cooper Estate; co-production with Toho, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Wingnut Film, Legendary Entertainment, and Warner Bros.
The Blues Brothers 1980–1998 co-production with SNL Studios
Halloween 1981–1982, 2018; TBA co-production with Compass International, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 20th Century Fox, Dimension Films, Miramax, The Weinstein Company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Blumhouse Productions
Conan the Barbarian
Lionsgate and Millennium Entertainment
Morgan Creek Productions
Morgan Creek Productions and Strike Entertainment
Back to the Future 1985–1990 co-production with Amblin Entertainment
An American Tail 1986–1999 co-production with Amblin Entertainment, Amblimation and Sullivan Bluth Studios
The Land Before Time
co-production with Amblin Entertainment,
Lucasfilm and Sullivan Bluth Studios
Child's Play / Chucky 1988–1998; 2013–present co-production with Rogue Pictures, Relativity Media, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and United Artists
Darkman 1990–1996 co-production with Renaissance Pictures
Jurassic Park 1993–present co-production with Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment, and The Kennedy/Marshall Company
Hanna-Barbera and Amblin Entertainment
Timecop 1994–2003 co-production with Renaissance Pictures
Amblin Entertainment and Amblimation
Casper 1995–2000; 2016–present co-production with Amblin Entertainment, Harvey Films, Saban Ltd., and 20th Century Fox; right holders through DreamWorks Classics
PolyGram Films, Gramercy Pictures, Working Title Films, StudioCanal, and Tiger Aspect Productions
The Prince of Egypt 1998–2000 co-production with DreamWorks Animation
The Mummy 1999–2008; 2017; TBA co-production with Relativity Media, Sommers Company, Alphaville, K/O Paper Products, and Perfect World Pictures
American Pie 1999–2012
Jay Ward universe 1999–2014; 2016–present co-production with Bullwinkle Studios, Mandeville Films, Walt Disney Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, TriBeCa Productions, DreamWorks Animation, DreamWorks Classics, 20th Century Fox, and Pacific Data Images
Dr. Seuss films 2000–present co-production with Imagine Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Blue Sky Studios, and Illumination Entertainment
Bring It On co-production with Strike Entertainment
The Chronicles of Riddick 2000–2013 co-production with Gramercy Pictures, USA Films, Original Film, and Relativity Media
Meet the Parents
co-production with DreamWorks Pictures,
Paramount Pictures and TriBeCa Productions
Hannibal Lecter 2001–2002 co-production with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Orion Pictures, Scott Free Productions, The Weinstein Company, and De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
The Fast and the Furious
co-production with Original Film,
Relativity Media and One Race Films
Shrek co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images, DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox
The Kennedy/Marshall Company
The Kennedy/Marshall Company and Relativity Media.
The Scorpion King 2002–2018 co-production with Alphaville and WWE Studios
StudioCanal and Working Title Films
Hulk 2003–2008; TBA including MCU's The Incredible Hulk (distribution only), right of first refusal holders (distribution only) of any future MCU solo Hulk films; co-production with Marvel Studios
Almighty 2003–2007 co-production with Spyglass Entertainment, Shady Acres Entertainment, and Original Film
Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy
co-production with Rogue Pictures, Relativity Media, Focus Features,
Working Title Films
Working Title Films and StudioCanal
...of the Dead
co-production with Atmosphere Entertainment, Romero/Grunwald Films,
Cruel and Unusual Films
Cruel and Unusual Films and Strike Entertainment
White Noise 2005–2007 co-production with Gold Circle Films
Doom 2005–present co-production with Di Bonaventura Pictures, Bethesda Softworks, and id Software
co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images,
Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox
Nanny McPhee 2005–2010 co-production with Working Title Films
Curious George 2006–present co-production with Imagine Entertainment
Smokin' Aces 2007–present co-production with Relativity Media
Dead Silence co-production with Twisted Pictures
VeggieTales 2008; 2016–present right holders through DreamWorks Classics; co-production with Big Idea Entertainment, FHE Pictures, Starz Animation
Kung Fu Panda
co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Oriental DreamWorks,
Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox
Marvel Cinematic Universe 2008; TBA The Incredible Hulk (distribution right holders) only, distribution right of first refusal holders of future Hulk films;co-production with Marvel Studios
co-production with Dark Horse Entertainment, Revolution Studios,
Relativity Media, Mosaic
Film Group, Columbia Pictures, Lionsgate, and Millennium Entertainment
Mamma Mia 2008–2018 co-production with Relativity Media, Playtone, LittleStar, Legendary Entertainment and Perfect World Pictures
co-production with New Horizons,
Cruise/Wagner Productions and Relativity Media
The Strangers co-production with Intrepid Pictures, Relativity Media, Rogue Pictures and Aviron Pictures
Monsters vs. Aliens
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures
How to Train Your Dragon
co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images,
Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox
Despicable Me 2010–present co-production with Illumination Entertainment
Lionsgate and Marv Films
Ted 2012–2015 co-production with Media Rights Capital, Bluegrass Films, and Fuzzy Door Productions
The Man with... co-production with Strike Entertainment and Bluegrass Films
Pitch Perfect 2012–2017 co-production with Gold Circle Films and Brownstone Productions
Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes
DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox
Relativity Media and Perfect World Pictures
Dumb and Dumber
co-production with New Line Cinema,
Warner Bros. and Red Granite Pictures
Ouija 2014–2016 co-production with Blumhouse Productions, Hasbro Studios, Genre Films, and Platinum Dunes
Neighbors co-production with Point Grey, Relativity Media, and Good Universe
co-production with Focus Features,
Michael De Luca Productions
Michael De Luca Productions and Trigger Street Productions
Blumhouse Productions and Bazelevs Company
The Secret Life of Pets 2016–present co-production with Illumination Entertainment
DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox
Sing co-production with Illumination Entertainment
Unbreakable film series co-production with Touchstone Pictures, Blinding Edge Pictures, and Blumhouse Productions
The Boss Baby
DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox
The Snowman co-production with Perfect World Pictures
Happy Death Day co-production with Blumhouse Productions
Insidious 2018; TBA co-production with FilmDistrict, Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures, IM Global, Alliance Films, Stage 6 Films, Entertainment One, and Blumhouse Productions
Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.
James Bond 2020 co-production with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer(Bond 25; one-film contract)
Universal was the first studio to have released three billion-dollar
films in one year; this distinction was achieved in 2015 with Furious
Jurassic World and Minions.
Highest-grossing films in North America
Rank Title Year Box office gross
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Secret Life of Pets
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Meet the Fockers
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Fast & Furious 6
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Fate of the Furious
Back to the Future
Highest-grossing films worldwide
Rank Title Year Box office gross
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Fate of the Furious
The Secret Life of Pets
Fast & Furious 6
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Fifty Shades of Grey
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Meet the Fockers
‡ Includes theatrical reissue(s).
^ Robert H. Cochrane (1879–1973) formed the Cochrane Advertising
Agency in Chicago in 1904. He joined the Laemmle
Film Service as advertising manager in 1906, and for the next 30 years devoted himself to promoting Carl Laemmle
Carl Laemmle as the 'star' of various motion picture enterprises. In 1912 Cochrane was elected vice-president of the Universal Film
Film manufacturing Company, and served as president of Universal in 1936–37 after Laemmle sold his interests.
.mw-parser-output .refbegin font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em .mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul list-style-type:none;margin-left:0 .mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul>li,.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>dl>dd margin-left:0;padding-left:3.2em;text-indent:-3.2em;list-style:none .mw-parser-output .refbegin-100 font-size:100% ^ International distribution only. Released by Warner Bros. domestically in North America.
^ a b "Brad Weston Launches Production Company With Backing From Universal, eOne". Variety.com..mw-parser-output cite.citation font-style:inherit .mw-parser-output .citation q quotes:"""""""'""'" .mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration color:#555 .mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg/12px-Wikisource-logo.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output code.cs1-code color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error display:none;font-size:100% .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error font-size:100% .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em .mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format font-size:95% .mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left padding-left:0.2em .mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right padding-right:0.2em
^ "Contact Us". NBCUniversal.
^ "Our Story". MPAA.
^ Cochrane, Robert H. (2007). "Beginning of motion picture press
Film History: An International Journal. Indiana University Press. 19 (3): 330–332. doi:10.2979/fil.2007.19.3.330. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
^ Vander Hook, Sue (2010). Steven Spielberg: Groundbreaking Director. ABDO Publishing Company. p. 35. ISBN 978-1617852527. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
^ Rose, Liza (April 29, 2012), "100 years ago, Fort Lee was the first town to bask in movie magic", The Star-Ledger, retrieved November 11, 2012
^ Koszarski, Richard (2004), Fort Lee: The
Film Town, Rome, Italy: John Libbey Publishing -CIC srl, ISBN 0-86196-653-8
^ "Studios and Films". Fort Lee
Film Commission. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
^ Fort Lee
Film Commission (2006), Fort Lee Birthplace of the Motion Picture Industry, Arcadia Publishing, ISBN 0-7385-4501-5
^ "About Us: Universal Studios History". The Filmmakers Destination. NBCUniversal. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
^ a b Hirschhorn, Clive (1985) . The Universal Story. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-7064-1873-5.
^ Leonard Leff and Jerold Simmons The Dame in the Kimono, 1990 (original edition)
^ "Universal Announces Release Of "Oscar, the Rabbit" Cartoons". Moving Picture World. 1927-03-12. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
^ "Universal Signs for 3 More Years of Oswald". Motion Picture News. 1928-02-18. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
^ "International Pictures and the merger with Universal Pictures". cobbles.com. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
^ "UNIVERSAL-INTERNATIONAL AND THE EARLY MCA YEARS". filmreference.com. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (1995-04-10). "THE MCA SALE: THE DEAL; Seagram Puts the Finishing Touches on Its $5.7 Billion Acquisition of MCA". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
Love Actually (2003) - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com.
^ "New York
Film Academy - Los Angeles". nyfa.edu.
^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 5, 2009). "'Two And A Half Men' Cast's Holiday Gifts For The Show's Crew And Staff". Deadline.
^ a b Goldstein, Lindsay (June 19, 2014). "Universal Partnerships
& Licensing to Expand to Consumer Products Covering
NBC and Sprout". The Wrap. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
^ James, Meg (January 27, 2011). "GE completes its purchase of
Vivendi's stake in
NBC Universal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
^ Lafayette, Jon (January 29, 2011). "
Comcast Competes Deal". Multichannel News. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
^ Masters, Kim (December 13, 2012). ".Why Studios Don't Pay to Make Movies Anymore". hollywoodreporter.com. p. 4. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
^ Faughnder, Ryan (2013-07-10). "
Legendary Entertainment strikes five-year deal with NBCUniversal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
^ "Focus Revives
Gramercy Pictures Label For Genre Films". Deadline Hollywood. May 20, 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
^ a b Lang, Brent (December 16, 2015). "Steven Spielberg, Jeff Skoll
Amblin Partners to Universal". Variety. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
^ a b Busch, Anita (December 16, 2015). "It's Official: Spielberg, DreamWorks, Participant, eOne, Others Pact For Amblin Partners". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
^ "Universal Slate Deal".
^ James Rainey (2016-08-23). "DreamWorks Animation's New Management Structure". Variety. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
^ a b Perry, Spencer (February 15, 2017). "Universal Studios Buys a Minority Stake in Amblin Partners". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
^ Fritz, Ben (2015-12-16). "Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Relaunches as Amblin Partners". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
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