Universal Studios

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Posted by pompos 03/25/2009 @ 15:13

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'Creature From the Black Lagoon: The Musical' coming to Universal ... - Los Angeles Times Blogs
Somebody at Universal Studios Hollywood certainly has a hilarious sense of humor — or a grave misunderstanding of popular entertainment. In spring 2009, the movie and television theme park will debut a romantic-comedy stage show with “dazzling...
Netflix: Will Streaming Economics Change For The Worse? - Barron's Blogs
He also has some shorter term concerns, including the counter-cyclical nature of the stock, tough comps in the second half and a potentially landscape-changing piece of litigation involving Universal Studios Home Entertainment, which is majority owned...
MGM hires help in refinancing $3.7-billion loan - Los Angeles Times
Sloan has been struggling to revive the troubled studio ever since he took over in 2005 after it was acquired by a consortium of investors that included Sony Corp. of America and cable giant Comcast Corp. Last year, he hired former Universal Pictures...
Los Angeles Production Listings - Back Stage
Raising the Bar Junie Lowry Johnson/Scott Genkinger, Universal Studios, 100 Universal City Plaza, Bungalow 5165, Universal City, CA 91608. Reaper Automatic Sweat, 5243 W. Washington Blvd., LA, CA 90016. Reno 911 Julie Ashton Casting, 6715 Hollywood...
Universal Studios auditions in Manila May 15-16 - Philippine Information Agency
It's your time to shine, as Universal Studios Singapore (USS) holds auditions on May 15-16 for artists and professionals at Studio M, VG Miranda Building, 9699 Pililia St. across the corner of Concepcion St., Bgy. Valenzuela, Makati City....
Gore Verbinski's New Film Still on Financial Hold - TheCelebrityCafe.com
Gore Verbinski, director of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, is set to direct the live-action retelling of the popular video game "bioshock" for Universal Studios. But the company has stopped production and has asked him to find a way to film the...
5 great cities for traveling with dogs - San Francisco Chronicle
Sheraton Universal Hotel. No dog fees for dogs up to 80 pounds, and welcome kits, custom beds, food bowls and special treats make this a fave when hitting Universal Studios. 333 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City....
Universal Studios Posts First Quarter Loss - WFtv.com
New numbers released Friday show just how badly the economy is hitting Universal Studios. According to a federal regulatory filing, revenue at the park dropped by $44 million, or about 21 percent, during the first quarter. Universal blamed the loss on...
Marketers happy to get 'Lost' - Variety
"Land of the Lost" is "such a retro, nostalgic property, and we wanted brands that could play off the current take on the film and how cool the original TV series was," said Stephanie Sperber, exec VP of Universal Studios Partnerships, which brokered...

Universal Studios

The current Universal Studios logo

Universal Studios (sometimes called Universal Pictures or Universal City Studios), a subsidiary of NBC Universal, is one of the six Worldwide major American film studios. Its production studios are located at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Universal City, California. Distribution and other corporate offices are based in New York City. Universal Pictures is the second longest-lived Hollywood studio; Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures is the oldest by a month.

The founder of Universal was Carl Laemmle, a German Jewish immigrant from Laupheim who settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he managed a clothing store. On a 1905 buying trip to Chicago, Illinois, he was struck by the popularity of nickelodeons. One story has Laemmle watching a box office for hours, counting patrons and calculating the take for the day. Within weeks of his Chicago trip, he gave up dry goods to buy the first of 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 any Trust-produced film they showed. On the basis of Edison's patent on the electric motor 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. It was believed that the productions were meant to be used for another company but they turned it down.

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 and Julius Stern. That company quickly evolved into the Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP). Laemmle broke with Edison's custom of refusing credit to actors. By naming the stars of films, he was able to attract many of the leading players of the time, contributing to the creation of the star system. In 1910, he actively promoted Florence Lawrence, then known as "The Biograph Girl," in what may be the first instance of a studio using a film star in its marketing.

On June 8, 1912, Laemmle merged IMP with eight smaller companies to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company--the first appearance of the word "universal" in the organization's name. Laemmle was the primary figure in a partnership that included Mark Dintenfass, Charles Baumann, Adam Kessel, and Pat Powers. Eventually all would be bought out by Laemmle. Baumann and Kessel later partnered with Mack Sennett for their highly successful Keystone Film Company. The new Universal studio was a horizontally integrated company, with both movie production and distribution capacity (the company lacked a major circuit of exhibition venues, ownership of which would become a central element of film industry integration in the following decade). The company was incorporated as Universal Pictures Company, Inc. in 1925.

Following the westward trend of the industry, by the end of 1912 the company was focusing its production efforts in the Hollywood area. Its first logo was an Earth with a Saturn-like ring and the text in a bold Kentucky font. In later years it was replaced by a filmed 3-D model, leading ultimately to today's logo which uses CGI animation. In 1915, 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 from Hollywood. Studio management now 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 biggest 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.

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 insisted on excessively lavish production values for his films Foolish Wives and Blind Husbands, but Universal shrewdly got some of its money back by launching a sensational ad campaign that attracted moviegoers. Character actor Lon Chaney became a huge 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 Thalberg's cogent observations of how efficiently the studio could be operated. Promoted to studio chief, Thalberg was giving Universal's product a touch of class, something it seldom had during the silent era.

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 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 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 organization resulted in the dissolution of this subsidiary.

Contentious business dealings involving Universal over the drawing of a cartoon character may very well have affected the course of animation history.

In 1927, Charles B. Mintz, a film producer and distributor, took control over Margaret J. Winkler's Winkler Pictures after marrying Winkler. He commissioned an all new all-animated series for production that would be distributed through Universal Pictures. The series, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was created by animator Ub Iwerks, an original partner of famed studio magnate Walt Disney. A young Disney, in the years before gaining worldwide acclaim with his own studio, earlier entered into a creative contract with Winkler for producing cartoon shorts like "Oswald." Disney tried negotiating a higher fee for the shorts he was making.

Yet while Iwerks created the "Oswald" character, which had enjoyed a successful theatrical run, Universal - and not Disney - owned the rights to it. This gave Mintz leverage in actually demanding that Disney accept a lower fee for producing the property or he would produce the films with his own group of animators. In the end, Disney refused the offer. As an alternative, he and Iwerks created what became Disney's flagship trademark, Mickey Mouse, which contained some of Oswald's features and soared to popularity following the duo's producing of its first talking short, Steamboat Willie. This moment effectively launched the Disney empire, while Universal became a relatively minor player in movie animation after Oswald.

In 2006, after almost 80 years, NBC Universal sold all Disney-produced Oswald cartoons back to Disney, in return for the release of then-ABC TV sportscaster Al Michaels from his contract so he could work on NBC's Sunday night NFL football package. However, Universal kept the Oswald cartoons that Walter Lantz produced for them from 1929 to the mid-1930s.

To his credit, "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 1929 part-talkie version of Show Boat, the lavish musical Broadway (1929) which included Technicolor sequences; the first all-color musical feature (for Universal), King of Jazz (1930); and All Quiet on the Western Front, winner of the "Best Picture" Academy Award for 1930. Laemmle, Jr. also created a successful niche for the studio, beginning a long-running series of monster movies, affectionately dubbed Universal Horror, among them Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy. The 1931 six-sheet (81-by-81-inch) poster for Frankenstein is considered to be the most valuable movie poster in the world. There is only one copy of this poster known to exist. Other Laemmle productions of this period include Imitation of Life and My Man Godfrey.

Ironically, Universal's forays into high-quality production nearly broke the company. 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 remake of its 1929 flop Show Boat, featuring several stars from the Broadway stage version, which began production in late 1935. However, Carl, Jr.'s spending habits alarmed company stockholders, especially after the costly flop of the western epic Sutter's Gold earlier in the year. 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 in Universal's 26-year history that it had borrowed money for a production. Production problems resulted in a $300,000 overrun. When Standard called the loan in, a cash-strapped Universal couldn't pay. Standard foreclosed and seized control of the studio on April 2, 1936. Universal's 1936 Show Boat was a great success financially and is widely considered to be one of the greatest film musicals of all time. However, it was not enough to save the Laemmles, who were unceremoniously removed from the company they had founded.

Standard Capital's J. Cheever Cowdin took 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 few big names under contract, those it had been cultivating, like William Wyler and Margaret Sullavan, now left. By the start of World War II, the company was concentrating on smaller-budget productions: westerns, melodramas, serials and sequels to the studio's horror classics.

Producer Joe Pasternak, who had been successfully producing light musicals with young sopranos for Universal's German subsidiary, came to America and repeated his tried-and-true formula. Teenage singer Deanna Durbin starred in Pasternak's first American film, Three Smart Girls (1936). The film made a fortune and restored the studio's solvency. If any one star can be said to have kept Universal in business during the late 1930s, it was Durbin, despite her often being woefully miscast as a young teenager when she was, clearly, a fully adult woman. As Durbin outgrew her screen persona and pursued more dramatic roles, the studio signed 13-year-old Gloria Jean for her own series of Pasternak musicals; she went on to star with Bing Crosby, W. C. Fields, and Donald O'Connor.

Universal could seldom afford its own stable of stars, and often borrowed talent from other studios, or hired freelance actors. James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret Sullavan, and Bing Crosby were some of the major names that made a couple of pictures for Universal during this period. Some stars came from radio, including W. C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, and the comedy team of Abbott and Costello (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello). Abbott and Costello's military comedy Buck Privates (1941) hit like a bombshell, catapulting the former burlesque comedians to unprecedented popularity. They became the biggest movie stars in America, improving Universal's bottom line even more than Durbin's glossy productions had.

During the war years Universal did have a co-production arrangement with producer Walter Wanger and his partner, director Fritz Lang, but their pictures were a small bit of quality in a schedule dominated by the likes of Cobra Woman and Frontier Gal. Universal's customer base was still the neighborhood movie theaters, and the studio continued to please the general public with low- to medium-budget comedies, musicals, adventures, westerns, and serials. The studio also fostered a number of series: The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys action features and serials (1938-43), the comic adventures of infant Baby Sandy (1938-41), Hugh Herbert comedies (1938-42), horror thrillers with Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy (1939-45), Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in 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 (1943-45). Since Universal made mostly low-budget films for many years, it was one of the last major studios to begin using full Technicolor. The studio first made use of the three-strip process in 1942, when it released the entertaining Arabian Nights, the first of a series of Technicolor spectaculars starring Jon Hall and Maria Montez. Technicolor was also used in Universal's 1944 remake of the classic melodrama, Phantom of the Opera with Claude Rains and Nelson Eddy.

Occasionally, the studio still made what might be considered a "big" picture, such as the aforementioned 1943 Phantom of the Opera, or 1943's all-star film Flesh and Fantasy, featuring such stars as Charles Boyer, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson in three stories of the supernatural, elegantly directed in black-and-white by Julien Duvivier, and linked together by the device of having comedian Robert Benchley advising a nervous club member about his recurring nightmares.

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. William Goetz, a founder of International, 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 decided to bring "prestige" to the new company by stopping the studio's low-budget production of B pictures (films under 65 minutes) such as musicals, comedies, and westerns as well as serials, and curtailed Universal's famous "monster" and "Arabian Nights" series. Distribution and copyright control remained under the name of Universal Pictures Company Inc.

Goetz set out an ambitious schedule. Universal-International became responsible for the American distribution of Rank's British productions, including such screen classics as David Lean's Great Expectations and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. Broadening its scope further, Universal-International branched out into the lucrative nontheatrical field, buying a majority stake in home-movie dealer 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 sold Universal's pre Universal-International film library to Jack Broeder's Realart Pictures for cinema rerelase 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 Egg & I, The Killers, and The Naked City, 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 reverted once more to the low-budget fare it knew best. The inexpensive Francis the Talking Mule and Ma and Pa Kettle series became mainstays of the new company. Once again, the films of Abbott and Costello, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, 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 would take full control of Universal in 1952. As well as Abbott and Costello, the studio retained the Walter Lantz cartoon studio whose product was released with Universal-International's films.

In the 1950's Universal-International brought back a 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 big budget melodramas produced by Ross Hunter and directed by Douglas Sirk. Amongst Universal-International's stable of stars were Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Jeff Chandler, Audie Murphy and John Gavin.

Though 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. case. 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 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 proved to be a hit, Stewart became a rich man. This kind of arrangement would become the rule for many future productions at Universal, and eventually at other studios as well.

By the late 1950s, the motion picture business was in trouble. The combination of the studio/theater-chain break-up and the rise of television saw the mass audience drift away, probably forever. The Music Corporation of America (better known as MCA), mainly a talent agency, had also become a powerful television producer, renting space at Republic Studios for its Revue Productions subsidiary. After a period of complete shutdown, a moribund Universal agreed to sell its (by now) 360-acre (1.5 km²) studio lot to MCA in 1958, for $11 million, renamed Revue Studios. Although MCA owned the studio lot, but not Universal Pictures, it 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 were signed to Universal Pictures contracts.

The actual, long-awaited takeover of Universal Pictures by MCA, Inc. finally took place in mid-1962 as part of MCA -Decca Records merger (Universal's then parent company), with MCA as surviving corporation. Universal-International Pictures, the production subsidiary reverted in name back to Universal Pictures. As a last gesture before getting out of the talent agency business, virtually every MCA client was signed to a Universal contract. In 1964 MCA formed Universal City Studios, Inc. to take over the motion pictures and television arms of Universal Pictures Company and Revue Productions (officially renamed Universal Television in 1966). And so, with MCA in charge, for a few years in the 1960s Universal became what it had never been: a full-blown, first-class movie studio, with leading actors and directors under contract; offering slick, commercial films; and a studio tour subsidiary (launched in 1964). But it was too late, since the audience was no longer there, and by 1968, the film-production unit began to downsize. Television now carried the load, as Universal dominated the American networks, particularly NBC (which later merged with Universal to form NBC Universal; see below), where for several seasons it provided up to half of all prime time shows. An innovation of which Universal was especially proud was the creation in this period of the made-for-television movie.

Though Universal's film unit did produce occasional hits, among them Airport, The Sting, American Graffiti, Earthquake, and a blockbuster that restored the company's fortunes, Jaws, Universal in the 1970s was primarily a television studio. Weekly series production was the workhorse of the company. There would be other film hits like E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park, but overall the film business was still hit-and-miss. In the early 1970s, Universal teamed up with Paramount Pictures to form Cinema International Corporation, which distributed films by Paramount and Universal worldwide. It was replaced by United International Pictures in 1981, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer joined the fold. UIP began distributing films by start-up studio DreamWorks in 1997, and MGM subsequently dropped out of the venture in 2001, letting 20th Century Fox internationally distribute its films. In 1990, MCA created MCA/Universal Home Video Inc. to enter the lucrative videotape and later DVD sales industry.

Anxious to expand the company's broadcast and cable presence, longtime MCA head Lew Wasserman sought a rich partner. He located Matsushita Electric, the Japanese electronics manufacturer. Around this time, the production subsidiary was renamed Universal Studios Inc. Matsushita provided a cash infusion, but the clash of cultures was too great to overcome, and five years later Matsushita sold control of MCA/Universal to Canadian liquor distributor Seagram. Hoping to build a media empire around Universal, Seagram bought PolyGram in 1999 and other entertainment properties, but the fluctuating profits characteristic of Hollywood were no substitute for the reliable income stream of hard liquor.

To raise money, Seagram head 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 itself was sold to French water utility and media company Vivendi(which owns StudioCanal). The media conglomerate became Vivendi Universal. Afterward, Universal Pictures acquired the United States distribution rights of several StudioCanal's films, such as Mulholland Drive (which received an Oscar nomination) and Brotherhood of the Wolf (which became the second-highest-grossing French-language film in the United States in the last two decades). Universal Pictures and StudioCanal also co-produced several films, such as Love Actually(an $40 million-budgeted film that went on grossing $246 million worldwide).

Burdened with debt, in 2004 Vivendi Universal sold 80% of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (including the studio and theme parks) to General Electric, parent of NBC. The resulting media super-conglomerate was renamed NBC Universal, while Universal Studios Inc. remained the name of the production subsidiary. Though some expressed doubts that regimented, profit-minded GE and high-living Hollywood could coexist; as of 2007 the combination has worked. The reorganized "Universal" film conglomerate has enjoyed several financially successful years. As presently structured, GE owns 80% of NBC Universal; Vivendi holds the remaining 20%, with an option to sell its share in 2006.

In late 2005, Viacom's Paramount Pictures swooped in to acquire DreamWorks SKG after acquisition talks between GE and DreamWorks stalled. Universal's long time chairman, Stacey Snider, left the company in early 2006 to head up DreamWorks. Snider was replaced by then-Vice Chairman Marc Shmuger and Focus Features head David Linde.

Over the years, Universal has made deals to distribute and/or co-finance films with various small companies, such as Imagine Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, Morgan Creek Productions, Working Title Films (and DreamWorks), StudioCanal, Shady Acres Entertainment, Marc Platt Productions, and Beacon Communications LLC.

It also owns several films made by others, including some pre-1952 United Artists material, an Alfred Hitchcock feature originally released by Warner Bros. - Rope, and the UK rights to most of the RKO Pictures library. Through its Focus Features division, Universal owns most ancillary rights to The Return of the Pink Panther (originally a UA release).

Universal also co-owns with WB the film rights to the Hanna-Barbera characters of The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear and Dick Dastardly and Muttley (Universal's rights had been optioned prior to H-B merging with WB). They also own a theme park character license for Scooby-Doo.

The basic Universal logo is a world globe fronted or encircled by the word "Universal". An earlier version, introducted in the 1930s, had a biplane circling the globe. There have been several variations on these logos including the earth surrounded by the Van Allen belts (used 1964-1989), and the nature of them allows for "playing" with them in individual films. The airplane circling the globe was used at the beginning of the film Xanadu, with the airplane changing to an increasingly modern design on each orbit. The film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial also took an unusual approach. By then, the logo consisted of the camera zooming in on the earth from outer space, with "Universal" coming into view. For E.T., the logo was run in reverse (Though the 2002 edition of E.T. leaves out the original opening logo) - "Universal" slid back behind the earth, and the camera seemingly pulled away and into space.

Universal Television uses the television subsidiary version of the "Globe" logos, which in it's time, was constantly changed, updated, and reorchastrated.

For several years some of these junior partners carried considerable weight within Universal; inevitably factions and rivalries were the rule. At least one version of corporate history claims that the twenty-year-old Irving Thalberg rose so quickly because he told subordinates that he alone spoke for Carl Laemmle in making production decisions, while the others were more concerned with battling among themselves.

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Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal Studios Home Entertainment (formerly Universal Studios Home Video or MCA/Universal Home Video) is a home video company founded in 1978 as MCA DiscoVision. The company is owned NBC Universal, the entertainment division of General Electric and Vivendi.

The company released Beta and VHS videocassettes on the MCA Videocassettes, Inc. label in 1980, with films including Jaws, Jaws 2, and 1941. In 1983, the laserdisc sister label MCA Videodiscs became MCA Home Video. The following year, MCA Videocassettes, Inc. became MCA Home Video. In 1990, with the 75th anniversary of Universal, it became MCA/Universal Home Video.

This company was the video distributor for DreamWorks titles until DreamWorks was sold to Paramount/Viacom in 2006, at which point Paramount took over distribution. After Viacom sold DreamWorks in 2008, Universal Studios Home Entertainment distributed DreamWorks films on DVD again.

In addition to DVDs, Universal was a major supporter of the HD DVD format until March 2008, when Toshiba discontinued manufacturing of HD DVD players. Since July 22, 2008, Universal released Blu-ray discs; it was the last major Hollywood movie studio to do so. The label's first Blu-ray releases were The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Scorpion King.

In the Netherlands, Universal distributes most DVDs of films released theatrically by Independent Films.

It also distribute Alliance Atlantis DVD titles in Canada, most of the Republic Pictures theatrical library in the UK, and most of the Carolco Pictures library in Australia and Brazil & finally the libraries of Artisan Entertainment & Summit Entertainment releases in USA.

Universal previously distributed its films on video internationally through CIC Video (a division of Cinema International Corporation) alongside Paramount Pictures. Following Universal's acquisition of PolyGram in 1999, PolyGram Video (which had international operations) was absorbed into Universal.

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Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is a new Universal theme park which is located within the Resorts World at Sentosa, Singapore. It was a key component of Genting-Star Cruises bid for the right to build a new resort at Sentosa. It was announced on December 8 2006 by the Singapore government that the consortium has won the bid and construction is expected to start around mid-2007.

There will be 24 rides in the park and at least 18 of them will either be original or specially designed for the new park.

The park is reported to be a "one-of-its-kind theme park in Asia" as Universal Studios has promised that this will be the only park it would have in Southeast Asia for the next 30 years. Its physical design will be larger than Universal Studios Hollywood with further room for expansion . The total number of attractions in the park will also be more than Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. It will, however, be smaller in terms of both size and number of rides than Universal Studios Florida. It is also estimated that the new park will draw more than five million visitors annually.

About US$1b will be invested in the theme park, which will include 6 themed areas that encircle a lagoon and feature iconic blockbuster locations, as well as new rides based on movies like Madagascar, Jurassic Park, The Mummy and Waterworld. There will also be live entertainment shows and educational features where visitors can learn more about computer-generated animation and the art of making a hit movie.

Universal Studio Singapore is expected to be completed and open by early 2010.

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Universal Studios Florida

The entrance to the theme park features a model of the famous Universal Studios globe

Universal Studios Florida is an American amusement park located in Orlando, Florida. Opened on June 7, 1990, the park's theme is the entertainment industry, in particular movies and television. Universal Studios Florida inspires its guests to "ride the movies," and it features numerous attractions and live shows. The park is one component of the larger Universal Orlando Resort.

In 2007, Universal Studios Florida hosted approximately 6.2 million guests, ranking it the sixth-most visited park in the United States parks and #11 among all parks worldwide.

A major component of the original park in Hollywood is its studio tour, which featured several special-effects exhibits and encounters built into the tour, such as an attack by the great white shark from the film "Jaws". For its Florida park, Universal Studios took the concepts of the Hollywood tour scenes and developed them into larger, stand-alone attractions. As an example, in Hollywood, the studio tour trams travel close to a shoreline and are "attacked" by Jaws before they travel to the next part of the tour. In Florida, guests enter the "Jaws" attraction and board a boat touring the fictitious Amity Harbor, where they encounter the shark, then exit back into the park at the conclusion of the attraction. Universal Studios Florida originally had a Studio Tour attraction that visited the production facilities, but that tour has since been discontinued.

Over the years, Universal Studios Florida has not limited itself to attractions based on its own vast film library. It has occasionally licensed popular characters from other rival studios, many of whom did not operate theme parks themselves. Some examples include the Ghostbusters and the Men in Black (from Sony's Columbia Pictures), Jimmy Neutron (from Viacom's Nickelodeon), The Simpsons (20th Century Fox), and Shrek (from DreamWorks Animation).

Universal Studios Florida is also a working production studio. It has been used for several movies, television series, commercials, music videos, and other events throughout its history. It was also a production location for Nickelodeon from 1989 until 2005. In September 2008, Nickelodeon returned to Universal Studios Florida for the production of "My Family's Got GUTS." Currently, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling films its television programs at the studio. In January 2009, the Powerball lottery drawings moved from Iowa; they are conducted and filmed at Universal Studios Florida, coinciding with the Florida Lottery's entry into the Powerball game.

Universal Studios Florida is home to six soundstages that are available for a variety of purposes. A seventh soundstage, Stage 18, was one of the former Nickelodeon Studios soundstages; it was redesigned in 2007 as the Sharp Aquos Theatre, where the Blue Man Group has performed since June 2007. The soundstage and the core production facility were made a permanent part of Universal CityWalk. Soundstage 21 has been used since June 2004 for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) which has produced its weekly television program, TNA iMPACT! from there, and has aired its pay-per-view events from this location since November 2004; it is referred to as the "iMPACT! Zone" for this reason. The remaining soundstages are available for rent by other production companies. During Halloween Horror Nights, the soundstages are occasionally used for the event's haunted houses. A wide range of productions have been filmed in the soundstages during the studio's history, including many local and national commercials. Television shows include SeaQuest DSV (from its second season forward) and Superboy (second-fourth seasons). The Ellen DeGeneres Show films a week-long series of episodes at the resort in the spring. Sports-entertainment shows World Championship Wrestling and roller derby series "RollerJam!" were filmed at the studios. The studios have hosted numerous game shows, including national tours of Wheel of Fortune, Fear Factor (portions of episodes from 2004-2005) and the Florida Lottery's Flamingo Fortune. Major scenes of the movie Parenthood were filmed at the studios prior to the park's opening to the public in 1990. The film Psycho IV: The Beginning as well as the TV series Swamp Thing were also filmed at the theme park shortly following it's grand opening. Most recently, the films Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective and Beethoven's Big Break were filmed at the studio.

During the 1990s when Nickelodeon's main home was at Universal Studios, the soundstages were used to film almost all Nickelodeon's original live action programming including: Get the Picture, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Family Double Dare, All That and many others. While Stage 18 is now used as the Sharp Aquos Theatre for the Blue Man Group, Soundstage 19 and the core production facility are home to Sun Sports and FSN.

Other soundstages located throughout the park (whilst primarily in the Production Central area) house the attractions Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, Shrek 4-D, Donkey's Photo Finish, Twister...Ride it Out, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Men in Black: Alien Attack and E.T. Adventure.

Universal Studios Florida is separated into seven different areas—Production Central, Hollywood, New York, San Francisco/Amity, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone and The Lagoon.

Production Central serves as the park's main entrance. The section is a cluster of motion picture soundstages, each of which houses attractions inspired by today's most popular films and television shows or actual film & television filming.

Along Hollywood Boulevard, guests will see recreations of some of its greatest monuments, such as Schwab's Drug Store and Mel's Drive-In. The real Schwab's Drug Store and Mel's Drive-In were located in Sherman, later known as West Hollywood and both on Sunset Boulevard, not Hollywood Boulevard.

This section of the park is aptly named. Within its boundaries can be found architectural styles and sets that resemble the New York of yesterday or today.

This section has two distinct themes; that of a mature coastal city and of a seasonal tourist town in New England.

World Expo takes its inspiration from the international expositions of the 20th century. It combines ultra-modern architecture as seen from the 1960s and today. Themeing in the area includes various flags of world countries and of Simpsons characters, and a small Coca Cola themed drink stall titled Roboasis.

Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone is the park's children's area, and is hosted by Woody Woodpecker, Universal Studios' mascot. The area was originally part of World Expo, but was divided into its own section with the opening of Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster in 1999.

A large lake located in the middle of the park.

Universal Studios Florida features several seasonal events throughout its operating calendar. Some are included in the daily park admission, while others are separately-ticketed events.

Universal Studios Florida allow guests to utilize the "Universal Express Plus" Pass on selected attractions. This pass admits users to a separate line for the attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. Universal Express Plus is not a virtual queuing service, where users receive a specific time to return to the priority line. Instead, passholders may enter the Express Plus line whenever they wish.

Universal Express Plus is not included in park admission. There are a limited number of passes available each day and they are often sold out in advance. The cost of the pass varies based on what parks are selected and even what day is selected, with higher prices charged on peak operating days during the year.

Purchasers of the Express Plus pass may use the shorter priority line once per enabled attraction. Guests of Universal's three on-site resorts—the Royal Pacific Resort, the Hard Rock Hotel and the Portofino Bay Hotel—may show their room keys for unlimited uses of the faster line for each ride. Also, guests who hold Universal Orlando's Premier Annual Pass receive the same unlimited privilege extended to hotel guests after 4pm.

Like all theme parks, attractions are sometimes closed due to age and replaced with more contemporary attractions. Universal has seen this action used a great deal of times, with many attraction closures such as Kongfrontation, Back to the Future: The Ride, Earthquake: The Big One, and The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera. The most recent closures which occurred were Back to the Future: The Ride, which has been replaced by The Simpsons Ride, Earthquake: The Big One, which has been replaced by Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You!, Kongfrontation, which has been replaced by Revenge Of The Mummy: The Ride, and The Boneyard, which will be replaced by Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. Some closures, such as those of Kongfrontation and Back to the Future: The Ride, have proven drastic to longtime visitors and have been given homages by the park.

In 2008, Universal announced plans to release the ride films of The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera and Back to the Future: The Ride on special edition DVD and Blu-Ray re-releases of Back to the Future and The Jetsons planned for 2009.

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Source : Wikipedia