The idents of cinema: The big six studios.

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These six videos are some of the most ubiquitous examples of entertainment branding found in popular culture. They come from the “big six” studios and preface the vast majority of films produced, and all have one thing in common.. unusally epic and grandiose imagery that only the film industry could get away with using.

The histories behind these stately logos are as interesting as some of the movies they precede: Paramount’s mountain logo for example is the oldest surviving studio emblem dating back to 1912, and is believed to be based upon Ben Lomond Mountain in Utah, although Peru’s Artesonraju is a closer fit.

While Columbia’s torch carrying lady dates back to 1924, the most recent incarnation is not as some thought modelled by Annette Benning, but actually the much more unassuming Jenny Joseph, a mother of two from Houston.

And the iconic Art Deco monument that 20 Century Fox uses as a logo was developed in 1935, and received a series of revisions before being standardised in 1994 with CGI, but only after a failed attempt to actually build a live action version of the monument.

What are some of the better studio idents around at the moment? I’ve always been a fan of Pixar’s jumping desk lamp myself.

18 Responses to “The idents of cinema: The big six studios.”


  • Despite my hatred of Fox, because of who owns it, their music is easily the most dramatic.

    Having said that, the WB one has the most tension and atmosphere to it…maybe cos they tend to make more ‘edgy’ films? (or maybe that’s just the ones i watch)….you certainly don’t get that from Disney!

  • I do agree with your observations on Pixar’s – it’s quirky and reflects a lot about their personality as a film outfit.

  • I love you :3
    you should post the disney one made for the first pixar pictures (I like that one better)

    and yes, nothing like the fox theme…

  • I used to enjoy the intro logos, until they stepped up their constant dissing of customers.

    Now i see them as nothing than a charade.

  • Excellent post! Shame the real music wasn’t on certain idents, and a shame Paramount don’t have a dedicated score on theirs.

    The Disney one seems to be my favourite modern ident. A friend of mine made me laugh out loud in the cinema once when he claimed it should end with Walt Disney popping out from behind the castle and shout “I hate Jews!”

    Worst ident is probably the Universal one. It looks a bit dated. You don’t really see it much in the cinemas these days though do you?

    My favourite movie logo is probably the Universal logo prior to the current one (the full motion, fully scored version). Debuted on Back to the Future Part 3 I do believe

  • The Disney ident is probably the best ident produced in recent years. I love movie logos, I always make a point of paying special attention to it when I’m at the movies och watching a DVD 🙂

    I’d like to share two of my favourite European cinema idents:

    Pathé: http://youtube.com/watch?v=J9jBA-tZ7tU
    Its not very dramatic, yet still has a certain magic to it that new logos rarely have.

    Svensk Filmindustri: http://youtube.com/watch?v=DDMT2I9vmE4
    Maybe I like this because of nostalgia, but it has a very dramatic feeling to it.

  • Perhaps you should also have a look at the verious Dolby Digital ident’s, there are quite a few. Although it isn’t seen much anymore remember those THQ ones in the movies at the start, I recall one with a cow doing something (was a long time ago) and of cource the Simpsons take off of that with people’s heads exploding.

  • All videos here are high pitched. And I think Columbia and WB has their own jingle.

  • I remember the old thx intros neever seen these days. I LOVE the simpsons parody, I cry lauging every time I see it http://youtube.com/watch?v=Vq-FOle6E5c&feature=related

  • Also, are there the logos of Disney, Paramount and Universal in the Panavision aspect ratio?

  • I’ve always loved movie logos, especially when they’re modified to fit a certain movie.

    The current Warner Bros and Walt Disney logos are my favourites. They both have brilliant music (especially the Disney one) and just looking at them, you know that they will be remembered for years to come.

    BTW, the Warner Bros logo has their own music for it. Here’s the link for it: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=nFDRoOIK780

  • Fun fact: Pixar (owned by Disney) didn’t create the new Disney animated intro. This credit goes to the folks at Weta Digital, the home of “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy.

    I prefer the new 2004 United Artists intro.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxGfgnb5P9I

  • Good collection, but was wondering why the Warner Bros. logo was silent, as for the past few years, “As Time Goes By” music is used with it (sometimes). I do like the Disney one; it seems to be the most updated one, but nothing beats the 20th Century Fox fanfare music. And have you noticed that some directors have resorted to using older versions of them for “period movies”, like David Fincher’s “Zodiac” and the new “Indiana Jones” both use older versions of Paramount’s mountain logo, plus the Lucasfilm logo appears before the Paramount logo in the latter to accomodate the transition from logo mountain to movie mountain (well, the prairie dog thingy).
    By the way, anyone know if the Universal one uses music by James Horner (he of “Titanic” fame)? I think the previous version, the one with the sunrise, used music by John Williams (he of “Star Wars” and “Indy” fame).
    How about some of the smaller companies, like New Line, the now defunct Orion, etc?
    Anyway, thanks for posting these!

  • What I like about Warner Bros is how they often integrate the logo into the start of the movie changing it’s design to fit the movie design too. I can’t think of many examples at the mo but I’m sure they did it for Batman (??)….a post of all the customised WB intros would be cool.

  • I really like the ident for Hopscotch Films here in Australia, with the neon sign on a stand. I’d love to see that ident posted to Idents.tv

  • The Audio is worse on Paramount’s Video!

  • Despite my hatred of Disney, their logo is magnificent and one of the most beautiful logos I’ve ever seen.

  • I love the Dreamworks one the best. I wish they never sold to Paramount Pictures.

    The reason why Disney movies have become so bad recently because the 3 founds of Dreamworks SKG (Spielberg and 2 othes), stopped working for Disney and setup Dreamworks. The K person was a studio chairman for Walt Disney Pictures.

    Dreamworks make the best movies. They have the consistency and quality control.

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