Going to the cinema has always been magical for me. Perhaps the Theatre is truly the abode of the divine Dionysus. As a child, my family would take my sisters, assorted friends and myself to this magical celluloid realm. We would get some popcorn and wait impatiently for the film to begin. Eventually, I would start playing a game, I would squint my eyes slowly to mimic the effect of the lights dimming. I would do this over and over, pretending the movie was starting. I still do this, except, now I keep them shut, mostly so I can ignore the annoying pre-show advertisements that plague the cinemas like gum under the seats.
Eventually the lights would actually dim, and (not to sound like a grumpy old man) in my day the curtains would part revealing a large white rectangle where a culture’s dreams, hopes, fears and fantasies were projected at 24 frames a second. But first there were the trailers, often times the best part of the movie going experience, then at the cinematic event horizon, when the film would actually start, you are treated to the film studio and distributors identification spot. I love this, when you see the Twenthy Century Fox logo with it’s brassy fanfare it gives me chills. It is important to note that these often are changed with different musical and coloration or special effects, this helps set the mood for the upcoming film. I’ve noted some of these.
Here is a list of some great film studio logo openings. I know I’ve left a bunch off, let me know what ones you like.
New Line Cinema
I like the use of the cinema logo falling into place with the swelling music.
This is a classic one. I only wish I could find the one for Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Morgan Creek Productions
I’ve always enjoyed the animated curves on this one.
A newer one, and it shows, that it makes great use of modern computer animation. Considering the studio makes horror and intense films it is very fitting.
A very exciting one that sets the audience up for a ride. Plus I love designs that harken back to some sort of historical roots. The use of halftone dots, flipping pages and close ups of characters and thought bubbles is fantastic.
Warner Bros. Pictures (matrix variation)
This is one of my favorite versions of a studio logo that aids the style of the film. Compare to the Regular & Looney Tunes variations.
Warner Bros. Pictures Regular version (1997):
Compare the Matrix Version to this and you can see how much more effective it was in stetting the tone of the film than if they would have used this much more prosaic version.
Warner Bros. / Looney Tunes variation
Another great riff on the WB
RKO Radio Pictures (1930’s version)
This is a great logo. So disctinctive and telling. It makes me feel so nostalgic for King Kong, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, where Dr. Frankenfurther’s monster Rocky climbs up a 35 foot RKO Radio Tower, in heels no less!
Lions Gate Films
I like the Lions Gate Logo because it’s is great to see the Lion’s Gates of Agamemnon’s Palace at Mycenae live again. Plus I like the clock work that is resides behind the magic of film. It is the most colborate of the arts, and the animated logo hints at this fact. That the great and powerful Oz of Hollywood is a big machine behind the curtian. This one is from the horrificly bad Saw franchise, but it does set the tone.
Lions Gate Films
Compare the Saw version to this normal version and you can see how the Saw flavors the movie with dread from the first frame:
In a list like this you have to include the famous lion!
MTV Films Logo
A very clever use of the astronaut and the imagry of the movie theatre.
Whimsy that harken’s back to the dawn of Pixar and the computer animation revolution.
Universal Pictures (1930’s Version)
The older logos, like RCA & Paramount are icons.
Universal Pictures: a contemporary version
This one always seems to get my cinematic juices flowing when I see a Universal film. It’s so classicly Hollywood, using a globe to highlght the universal lanugae of film and the film studios narcissism.
Walt Disney (New Logo)
If any film studio logo opening sums up the ideals of a studio better than this one I can’t think of it. It’s so full of imagination and child like wonder, plus it sells the iconagraphy of the studio like no other. Not only is it an trademark for the company, it’s also ad for the theme parks. It is also an homage to Peter Pan; note the third star to the right in the opening shot and Hook (or is it Jack Sparrow’s) Pirate ship on the river
Twenty Century Fox
I’m saving the best for last, maybe because I was such a fan of Star Wars, this will always be the quissential movie opening for me.