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Universal  Studios

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          Universal Studios logo for 100th Anniversary in 2012            short history

major divisions

books about Universal
movies about Universal

film library




          Founded in 1909 as the Yankee Film Company by clothing store owner Carl Laemmle, renamed Independent Moving Picture Co., and in 1912 merged with 8 other companies to form Universal Film Manufacturing Co.; opened 230-acre studios in California in 1915; son Carl Laemmle, Jr. took the helm in 1928, and modernized the company (converting to sound & adding movie theaters) and began producing monster-horror films (a signature genre); after several box-office failures, bankers seized control in 1936 and kicked the Laemmles out; the studio stayed afloat by making series movies starring Deanna Durbin, Abbott & Costello, and sequels to the horror classics; British entrepreneur J. Arthur Rank purchased a quarter interest in 1945; a merger in 1946 with William Goetz's International Pictures led to a name change to Universal-International Pictures; Rank sold his shares to investor Milton Rackmil (Decca Records) who took control in 1952.
          In 1950, M.C.A. talent agent Lew Wasserman made a deal with Universal for his client James Stewart to receive a portion of the profits of three films for reduced up-front salary, which changed the rules of the movie business. Universal sold the (now) 360-acre studio lot to M.C.A. in 1958. Wasserman took full control in 1962 and changed the name back to Universal Pictures, with an emphasis on TV production. The studio tour operation, begun in 1915, was expanded and theme park facilities built in Florida & Japan.
          Wasserman sold the company to Matsushita Electric in 1990, staying as chairman until Seagram took control in 1995; liquor distributor Seagram's Edgar Bronfman, Jr. bought several smaller movie companies and then sold out to water & media company Vivendi of France in 2000, and the name was changed to Vivendi Universal; in 2004, Vivendi sold 80% of Universal to General Electric, owner of N.B.C., thus the rename to N.B.C. Universal.
          In 2009, Comcast made an offer for a majority stake in NBC-Universal, predicated on Vivendi selling off its 20% stake, and other financial moves; that deal closed in January 2011, with Comcast owning 51% and G.E. owning 49%. In February 2013, Comcast signed a deal to pay G.E. $16.7B for full ownership.

Universal Studios official website
Universal Studios entry at Wikipedia

Books About Universal Studios

Universal Pictures History  "Universal Pictures: A Panoramic History In Words, Pictures & Filmographies"
[1977] by Michael G. Fitzgerald

Arlington House pb [1/77] out of print/many used
Random House hardcover[3/82] out of print/used
The Universal Story book by Clive Hirshhorn  "The Universal Story: The Complete History of The Studio & Its Films" [1985]
by Clive Hirshhorn

Random House Value hardcover [11/87] out of print/used
Best of Universal book by Tony Thomas  "The Best of Universal" [1990]
by Tony Thomas

Vestal Press 11x8½ pb [1/90] for $9.95
City of Dreams / Universal Pictures  "City of Dreams: The Making & Remaking of Universal Pictures" [1997]
by Bernard F. Dick

Univ Press of KY 9¼x6¼ hardcover [4/97] for $35.00
Universal Silents Filmography book by Richard E. Braff  "The Universal Silents: A Filmography of the Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Company, 1912-1929" [1998]
by Richard E. Braff

McFarland & Co. 8¾x5¾ pb [5/2009] for $75.00
McFarland & Co. hardcover [11/98] for $135.00
Universal-International Westerns Complete Filmography, 1947-1963 book by Gene Blottner  "Universal-International Westerns, 1947-1963: The Complete Filmography" [2000]
by Gene Blottner

McFarland & Co. 9x6 pb [4/2007] for $39.95
McFarland & Co. 9x6 library hardcover [8/2000] for $65.00
Universal Sound Westerns Complete Filmography, 1929-1946 book by Gene Blottner  "Universal Sound Westerns, 1929-1946: The Complete Filmography" [2003]
by Gene Blottner

McFarland & Co. 8¾x6 pb [12/2010] for $39.95
McFarland & Co. 9½x6 hardcover [11/2003] for $75.00
Early Universal City book by Robert S. Birchard  "Early Universal City, California (Images of America)" [2009]
by Robert S. Birchard

Arcadia Publng 9x6½ pb [8/2009] for $14.95
Universal Studios Monsters book by Michael Mallory  "Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror" [2009]
by Michael Mallory

Rizzoli Universe 12x9¼ hardcover [9/2009] for $28.80
Universal Women in Early Hollywood book by Mark Garrett Cooper  "Universal Women: Filmmaking and Institutional Change In Early Hollywood" [2010]
by Mark Garrett Cooper

During its first decade of operation, Universal Pictures employed eleven female movie directors, but by the mid-1920s, they all were gone. Author looks at issues of institutional change, and the careers of women directors Ruth Ann Baldwin, Cleo Madison, Ida May Park, Ruth Stone-house & Elise Jane Wilson, and serials star Grace Cunard, and auteur Lois Weber.
Univ Illinois Press 9x6 pb [3/2010] for $25.00
Univ Illinois Press 9x6¼ hardcover [3/2010] out of print/used
Sherlock Holmes & the Fabulous Faces book by Michael Hoey  "Sherlock Holmes & the Fabulous Faces: The Universal Pictures Repertory Company"
[2011] by Michael A. Hoey

Author Hoey is the son of the actor who played LeStrade in Universal's Sherlock Holmes films,
1942-46; the book chronicles the 68 members of the revolving 'repertory company' at Universal
that were used by director Roy William Neill and others

BearManor Media 9x6 pb [8/2011] for $19.95
publisher's official book page

Movies About Universal Studios

Universal Story docufilm by David Heeley & Joan Kramer  "The Universal Story" [Universal TV 1995]
2-hour documentary on the 80-year history of the studio, with archive footage of Kirk Douglas, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Alfred Hitchcock, Boris Karloff, Spike Lee, Mary Tyler Moore, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Mary Pickford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sid Sheinberg, Steven Spielberg, James Stewart, Lupita Tovar, Meryl Streep, Lew Wasserman & Orson Welles Co-produced, co-written & directed by David Heeley; co-produced & co-written by Joan Kramer; hosted by Richard Dreyfuss • full credits at IMDb
not available on DVD • Universal Studios color/b&w VHS [3/96] for $7.06
Forever '50s compilation from Universal newsreels, shorts & trailers  "Forever 50's: The Decade of Spins, Fins, and Late-Night Drive-Ins" [2003]
A compilation of the 'best of' Universal Newsreels, short subjects, and movie trailers, which magically captures the essence of the decade. See the newsmakers, sports heroes, movie stars, personalities, celebrity weddings, and 'latest' fashions – President Eisenhower, Princess Grace, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Ford's Edsel, Sputnik, Sugar Ray Robinson, hula hoops, Joe DiMaggio, Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Smokey the Bear, tiki culture, swimsuits, Communists, and the atomic bomb! • not listed on IMDb
V.C.I. Video color/b&w DVD [4/2003] 3 disks for $35.99

"Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories" 18-minute docufilm [2012] /tt2385261

The Universal Studios Film & Music Library

·            ·

Universal 100th Anniversary Collection box sets on DVD & Blu-ray  
"Universal 100th Anniversary Collection" DVD Box Set [2012]
Universal Studios Blu-ray set [11/2012] 25 disks for $246.83
Universal Studios DVD set [11/2012] 25 disks for $211.83
each box set contains 25 feature films: "All Quiet On The Western Front" [1930]; George Lucas's "American Graffiti" [1973]; "Apollo 13" [1995] starring Tom Hanks; "Back To The Future" [1985]; Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" [1963]; "The Bourne Identity" [2002]; "The Breakfast Club" [1985]; "Buck Privates" [1941] starring Abbott & Costello; "Despicable Me" [2010]; Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" [1989]; "Dracula" [1931] starring Bela Lugosi; Steven Spielberg's "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" [1982]; "The Fast and The Furious" [2001]; "Field of Dreams" [1989] starring Kevin Costner; Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" [1975]; Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" [1993]; "Mamma Mia! The Movie" [2008]; "National Lampoon's Animal House" [1978]; "Out of Africa"
[1985]; "Pillow Talk" [1959] starring Rock Hudson & Doris Day; Brian De Palma's "Scarface" [1983]; Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus" [1960]; "The Sting" [1973] starring Paul Newman & Robert Redford; and "To Kill A Mockingbird" [1962] starring Gregory Peck — on the DVD version only: Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List"
[1993] and on the Blu-ray version only: "Dracula Spanish" [1931] — plus a 72-page booklet

Major Divisions

parent company Comcast Corporation [est. 1963]
Cable giant Comcast made an agreement to purchase a 53% majority stake in NBC-Universal for $13.75 billion,
once Vivendi sold all its shares to General Electric. As-of January 2011, Comcast owned 51% of NBC-Universal
(with G.E. owning the rest). In February 2013, Comcast signed a deal to pay G.E. $16.7B for full ownership, which
was largely regarded as an expression of Comcast's faith in broadcast television.

Comcast Corp. logos - new peacock version from 2012
corporate website • official (customer) website
Comcast entry at Wikipedia

Universal  Pictures  Co.  [est. 1912]
color logo for Universal Pictures
Universal Studios official website
Universal Studios entry at Wikipedia
official Universal Pictures logo reel [1:23] at YouTube

N.B.C.  Universal  Television  Group
When M.C.A. took control of Universal in 1962, they merged their Revue Studios [1943-63] into Universal's TV division; the M.C.A. TV division [1951-2004] was folded into Universal TV in the 1990s; N.B.C.'s operations were merged into Universal's when General Electric bought Universal in 2004, creating a broadly-integrated production, distibution & broadcast division.
peacock symbol of National Broadcasting Company TV network {replaced January 2011}        new logo for NBC-Universal Television, effective January 2011
N.B.C. Universal Television Group entry at Wikipedia
National Broadcasting Company (N.B.C.) entry at Wikipedia

N.B.C. News

N.B.C. Publishing [est. 1/2012]
This new e-publishing division, based at 30 Rock, is tasked with creating tablet & e-reader content from the company’s
various brands - "Today", "NBC Nightly News", "Dateline", N.B.C. Sports, Telemundo, etc. - based on
current events & trends, and on already-existing documentaries, biographies & profiles.

N.B.C. Universal Cable Entertainment
Wilshire Studios {'reality' programming}, formerly known as Comcast Entertainment Studios

Universal's former gaming network G4 will be rebranded as the Esquire Network 'catering to the modern man', beginning in April 2013,
in close collaboration with Esquire Magazine parent Hearst Magazines.

N.B.C. Universal Hispanic [est. 2/2013]
ex-Univision studio exec Joe Uva, Chairman of Hispanic Enterprises & Content (including Telemundo & mun2)

Focus  Features  specialty division in New York City
U.S.A. Films was created in 1999 by mogul Barry Diller by combining October Films, Gramercy Pictures & U.S.A. Home Entertainment; Focus was formed in 2002 when Universal merged U.S.A. Films, Universal Focus & Good Machine.

Focus Features div. of Universal Pictures
official website • entry at Wikipedia
'Film In Focus' website for movie-lovers

Legendary  Entertainment [est. 2000]
Announced 7/2013: Legendary signed a co-financing & distribution deal with NBCUniversal that replaces
the former pact with Warner Bros. effective by the end of 2013.

official website • entry at Wikipedia

Rogue  Pictures  specialty distribution
Founded in 2004 as a division of Focus Features to produce & distribute low-budget action/horror films;
sold in December 2008 to Relativity Media, with Universal/Focus kept as distributor of the library.

Moguls & Executives

"In effect, [Lew] Wasserman was the man who put the inmates in charge of the Hollywood asylum."
— Neal Gabler

“I don't consider [that] I have power. I have relationships.” ? Lew Wasserman
"The Last Mogul" [1998] unauthorized biography of Wasserman by Dennis McDougal

Universal  Studios  Links

Universal Studios official website
Universal Studios entry at Wikipedia

Online sales in association with  Movie Industry books category at Amazon

Magic Lantern's Major Studios Pages
Disney & A.B.C. Page • M.G.M. & United Artists Page • News Corp. & Fox Page
Sony Pictures & Columbia • Universal Studios {this page} • Viacom & Paramount • Warner Bros. Page

Magic Lantern's Mini-Major Studios Page
Amblin • C.B.S. • E.M.G. • Europa • Halcyon • Imagine • Liberty Media • LionsGate • Weinstein
historic studios • foreign studios

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