Universal Studios

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Universal Studios logo
This article is about the Universal Studios movie studio and Universal Hollywood theme park. For the Orlando theme parks see Universal Orlando Resort. For the theme park in Japan see Universal Studios Japan.

Universal Studios is a "Hollywood" movie studio located at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Universal City, California, which is in the San Fernando Valley.



DVD cover showing characters made famous by Universal Studios.  from  (1935),  from  (1933),  from  (1931), Claude Rains from  (1943), "The Creature" from  (1954),  from  (1931),  from  (1941) and Boris Karloff from  (1932)
DVD cover showing characters made famous by Universal Studios. Elsa Lanchester from Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Claude Rains from The Invisible Man (1933), Bela Lugosi from Dracula (1931), Claude Rains from Phantom of the Opera (1943), "The Creature" from Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Boris Karloff from Frankenstein (1931), Lon Chaney Jr. from The Wolf Man (1941) and Boris Karloff from The Mummy (1932)

The studio was founded by German immigrant Carl Laemmle on June 8, 1912. In 1929, Carl Laemmle Jr. took over the helm and tried to lift the reputation of the low-budget company by spending more on production and talent. The Universal horror classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy were the result of this move, but they were not financially successful for the company, and they returned to mass-produced dreck for some time thereafter. By the late 1930s the Laemmle family were no longer in control.

In 1952, the studio was acquired by the record company Decca. Decca later sold the Universal City lot to MCA in 1958, and merged completely with MCA in 1962. Universal finally began to prosper, with the leadership of Lew Wasserman. This also marked Universal's entry into the television programming business; MCA owned Revue Studios, one of the biggest TV studios in Hollywood, which at the time produced such hits as Leave It to Beaver, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Wagon Train. The studio was renamed Universal Television, and made its name producing crime dramas and action/adventure series, such as the 1960s Dragnet revival, Adam-12, Emergency!, Columbo, Baretta, Knight Rider, Quantum Leap, and Law & Order. Another television division, EMKA, Ltd., owns the rights to a majority of Paramount Pictures' pre-1950 film library.

Three decades of steady success, with the occasional blockbusters like Jaws and E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, seemed to poise the studio for great future potential. However, the era of huge media mergers that began in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s put pressure on the firm. Wasserman sought and shepherded an alliance with Matsushita Electric (parent of Panasonic and other brands). The cash infusion was helpful, but the corporate culture of the Japanese firm did not mesh easily with the headstrong old Hollywood veterans. Matsushita tired of the battle and sold a controlling share of the studio to the Seagram company in 1995.

Seagram went on to acquire Polygram and other entertainment properties in order to build a media empire centered on Universal, but stock prices never took off the way they expected. In 1998, Universal's TV studios were spun off to USA Networks, and renamed Studios USA; in 2002, Universal bought back USA's cable and studio holdings, thus reinstating the Universal Television name; Universal retained its pre-1998 TV back catalog through all of this period.

In June 2000, Universal was acquired by the French company Vivendi, now Vivendi Universal. During this period, the studio was under the leadership of Ron Meyer, Stacey Snider, and Barry Diller.

In October 2003, it was announced that Vivendi would be selling the majority of Universal's holdings (including the studio and theme parks) to General Electric, parent of television network (and longtime Universal Television customer) NBC. The merger cleared regulatory approval in April 2004, and closed on May 12, 2004. As of the closing, GE owns 80% of the combined NBC Universal, with the remaining 20% kept by Vivendi; Vivendi will have the option to sell its share starting in 2006. Vivendi Universal retained Universal Music Group and StudioCanal; there were rumors of Universal Music being up for sale during the early days of the NBC-Universal merger talks, but no solid deal ever surfaced.

Universal Studios Theme Parks

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Universal Studios Uniglobe

From the beginning, Universal Studios has hosted both walking and motorized tours of its studios to eager tourists.

In 1964, the humble tour became a full-blown theme park -- the narrated tram tour still runs through the studio's backlot, showing off the sets and props from a huge variety of Universal movie and TV productions. The tram tour remains, but since then many high-tech rides, stunt shows, and attractions have been added.

It also features a CityWalk entertainment area outside the park gates, which features both franchised and unique shops and restaurants, a variety of night clubs (dance, comedy, blues, etc), a public fountain, and a large high-tech movie theater. Separate but adjacent to both park and CityWalk is the Universal Amphitheatre, a popular Southern California live venue.

Universal Studios has also expaned into other locations. Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida, features two theme parks and a CityWalk entertainment complex. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Japan features another theme park and CityWalk complex.

The parent company of Universal Studios, NBC Universal also owns Port Aventura in Spain. This park does not feature the Universal brand name.

See also

External links

Template:Noteworthy Amusement Parksde:Universal Studios fr:Universal_Pictures ja:ユニヴァーサル映画


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