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Feb 10, 2011

Grading the Movie Studio Logos - Part II: The Minor Leagues

This is the second in a continuing series in which I analyze and grade the openers that we film fans should be intimately familiar with. After all, we see them in front of every movie, and what with co-distributions and production houses each getting to put their own in front of the credits, we're seeing more and more of them than ever (sometimes as many as four or five!).

In part I, I took a look at the "Big Six" studios - go here to see how they were judged. Here, I look at the "mini-majors," those studios that gobble up much of the remaining 15% that the six don't command. In future posts, I'll look at subsidiaries of the six (Focus, Fox Searchlight) and film production companies (Relativity Media, Legendary Pictures). But now, the mini-majors. What do these openers tell us, and how effectively do they tell it?


What it says: "Get it? Summit?"

How effectively does it say it?: It sure as shit doesn't say much, but I guess it says what it says pretty well.


Also, go ahead and name a Summit film, I dare you. Hard to believe they're a top 10 studio - they have no identity that I'm aware of. Come to find out, the only reason they're in that top 10 is because they nabbed the Twilight series. I guess they are/are going to be a more major player in the future.

Overall grade: D-


What it says: "We are trying our hardest to look like one of the big boys."

How effectively does it say it?: I think they are kind of succeeding in that regard. It's definitely more "epic" than their old one, which was slightly less boring than that Summit one. It's got the horns and the clouds - apparently, two items mandated by the Movie Studio Logo Intro Committee, so they're headed in the right direction on that front.

General comments: A tad overcomplicated, no?

For whatever reason, I've always liked Lions Gate, even though they tend to make a lot of genre films, which aren't typically my bag. For a while a few years back, I toyed with the idea of buying stock in them, mostly because it was (and still is) pretty cheap (~$6.00/share) and I liked the idea of owning stock in a movie studio. Of course, that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, I guess I'm glad they actually worked in a gate with lions on it. Literal as that may be, at least it makes sense. What they came up with, though, reminds me of Hellboy II or Harry Potter.

Overall grade: B-

DREAMWORKS (Note: I'm kind of cheating here; the live-action studio isn't its own company anymore, having been purchased by Paramount. The animation division is still independent, but their logo is essentially an alternate of this one, and this one is much more widely known.)

What it says: "Don't we remind you of the wonders and nostalgia of childhood?"

How effectively does it say it?: Much to the sure surprise and chagrin of some, I've never really liked DreamWorks' opener. It's too long, too homey, and the music kind of grates on me. But yes, it does, in its way, effectively get across its message, all the while subtly reminding us that Steven Spielberg was a founder, via the moon imagery that he's co-opted ever since E.T. and starting up Amblin Entertainment.

General comments: Does anyone else think "Ron Howard circa The Andy Griffith Show" every time they see that kid fishing? Cause I sure do.

Overall grade: C


What it says: "We're still pissed we can't use our old company name and logo. Doesn't this one remind you of it?"

How effectively does it say it?: The color scheme is there. The "W" kind of looks like buildings if you squint just right. Additionally, the format of the "W" is a bit reminiscent of the Fox spotlights, though that's neither here nor there.

General comments: It doesn't scream "movies!," but it's kind of the antithesis of DreamWorks' opener - classy, short, and to the point. And I like the music. It's far from the best, and I did prefer the old Miramax opener, but this'll do, donkey.

Overall grade: B

OVERTURE (Note: ignore the singing; this is the best version of their logo I could get.)

What it says: "A Starz Company."

How effectively does it say it?: It even says that poorly.

General comments: I don't care if Overture is new to the game and/or affiliated with like 14 other brands (Starz, Anchor Bay), this is one weak logo and opener. It says absolutely nothing about itself or movies, aside from "we like rainbows." Ditch it...now.

Overall grade: F


What it says: "You see that shit next to the laurels? That's FILM, mothertrucker! We old school, and we ain't changin' shit anytime soon (except the lion, which we change often)."

How effectively does it say it?: MGM's financial struggles are well-known, but I don't know if there's a much more iconic opener than this one. That's not to say it's the best, but it's been around (virtually unchanged) forever and indeed screams "movies!" like no other. It also screams "We only make James Bond movies anymore," unfortunately. Hard to believe one of the bigger boys hasn't gobbled MGM up, for their name brand and recognition if nothing else.

General comments: No, I don't really know what a lion has to do with movies, either, but I'm sure there's a historical reason for it. Does it matter, though?

Overall grade: A-

10 people have chosen wisely: on "Grading the Movie Studio Logos - Part II: The Minor Leagues"

Jack L said...

Awesome post, I would have never thought reading about studio's logo's could have been so enjoyable.

I think my favourite logo out of the ones you mentioned is the MGM one.

Nick said...

I agree about Lionsgate. The majority of the time, if I see it's a Lionsgate film, I know I'll probably enjoy it.

And yes, when you told me to tell you a Summit film, my first reaction was "Twilight." And every time I see the Summit logo, all I can think of is "Oh God, it's the Twilight company."

Kurt Halfyard said...

I actually know quite a few Summit Movies. I also know them as the company that can't seem to put out a film properly wide enough unless it involves sparkly moping vampires.

But for the record, they put out THE HURT LOCKER and THE BROTHERS BLOOM very inefficiently...The Hurt Locker is the lowest grossing Oscar winner in history. And it is an action movie of sorts with lots of guns and explosions...How do you fuck up marketing and releasing that?

Fletch said...

Jack - Thanks! I can be fascinated by some trivial shit. ;) And yea, MGM is the clear winner to me as well.

Nick - Yep, it would seem to me that Lions Gate would be up your alley. Didn't they do all the Saw flicks?

I've seen some of the flicks Kurt mentions below, but if I hadn't seen that, I'd swear that I hadn't seen a Summit movie.

Kurt - Looks like I've seen 19 of their movies (many of them co-productions), going by Wiki's slate of their films. No surprise here, though: their output has ballooned like mad since 2008, aka the year that the first Twilight came out. Prior to that, they had pretty much only had co-productions.

Ha - they've got The Beaver and Drive Angry on their 2011 slate. Should be an interesting year for them...

Good questions on Hurt Locker. That's baffling.

Mayday said...

Wiki says the designer of the MGM logo went to Columbia (the Lions). There's your historical reason. It reminds me of old cartoons more than movies.

Nick said...

Yup. Lionsgate did all the Saw flicks (as well as Repo! The Genetic Opera... which was directed by the director of Saw 2-4).

Fletch said...

Mayday - Thanks for the history lesson. Actually kinda of weird (and had to do a double take) that he/she went to a school that share a name with another one of the studios.

Nick - figures. :P

Colin Biggs said...

I like Lionsgate (especially with some of the more art-y films they have been putting out.)

Chase Kahn said...

My favorite logo of all-time is the RKO logo + the morse code beeps...gives me chills - love it.

What's interesting is to track the lifespan of the movie logo. The Warner Bros. logo in particular devolved into a disgusting atrocity in the late 60's/70's (think "Bullitt", "Dirty Harry") and now they've gone back to the more traditional WB.

Paramount's widescreen color logo in the late 60's, 70's is one of my favorites (Fincher used it on "Zodiac"), but now it's turned into a steel-blue, shooting stars thing that doesn't bring the same reverence for me.

Fletch said...

Chase - That RKO one is definitely cool. It says a lot, and in multiple forms of communication. I wonder what a modern day version of it would look like?

Warner got loopy for a short time withe the graphic "W," but thankfully yes, they're back to the old style. Though - sidenote - I gotta admit, the Warner Independent one might have topped my list had it still been around.

I like the old and new Paramount (save for the weird blue screen thin they had going on in the 70s. I think their current one is a decent transition and update from the classic one. More epic, more movement - I dig it.