Empire Pictures

Success Brothers Film Company


Background: Empire traces its history when it was originally founded on May 8, 1912 by the Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor, who had been an early investor in nickelodeons (film theaters that cost 5 cents admission), saw that movies appealed mainly to working-class immigrants. With partners Daniel Frohman and Charles Frohman, he planned to offer feature-length films that would appeal to the middle class by featuring the leading theatrical players of the time (leading to the slogan "success brothers with a chance of success"). By mid-1913, Success Brothers had completed five films and Zukor was on his way to success. That same year, another aspiring producer, Jesse L. Lasky opened his Pilo Film Company with money borrowed from his brother-in-law, Samuel Goldfish, later known as Samuel Goldwyn. The Pilo Film Company hired as their first employee a stage director with no virtually film experience, Cecil B. DeMille, who would find a suitable location site in Hollywood, near Los Angeles for his first film called, The Squaw Man.


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Empire Pictures Corporation


Background:
Beginning in 1914, the former company was renamed Empire Pictures Corporation, as the oldest running movie studio in Hollywood, beating Worldwide Studios by a month. On March 24, 1966, Empire was acquired by Green+Whizzer Industries, which later became Empire Communications in September 1989. Since March 11, 1994, the industry is currently owned by media conglomerate Yoshi, a subsidiary of American Parks, Inc.



1st Logo
(September 14, 1914-February 15, 1927)

Nicknames: "The Three Stars In the Credits", ''Three Empire Stars''

Logo: We see one of the following bylines at the top of the screen:
  • "ADOLPH ZUKOR PRESENTS" (films produced on the East Coast).
  • "JESSE L. LASKY PRESENTS" (films produced on the West Coast).
  • "ADOLPH ZUKOR AND JESSE L. LASKY PRESENT" (films produced on both coasts).

Below this, we see the title of the film and a little more info. Somewhere on the screen, we see a snow capped star poking out of a cloud at the bottom. The star is surrounded by a ring of triangles. We see the text overlapping the star reading:


An
Empire
Picture

At the bottom of the screen is a box. On either side of the box, there are two Empire pseudo-logos. Each has a ring of triangles inside a ring. On the pseudo-logo on the right, we see the words "Empire Pictures". On the pseudo-logo on the left, we see some writing. I theorize that this logo may actually be "Success Brothers", so I may be wrong. At the top of the box, we see "COPYRIGHT [YEAR]". Inside the box, we see the words "SUCCESS BROTHERS-PILO FILM COMPANY" in a large font. Below this, in a slightly smaller font, we see the words "ADOLPH ZUKOR, PRESIDENT". Below Zukor's name, we see the words "NEW YORK CITY". Below the box, we see, in a large font, "ALL RIGHTS
RESERVED".

Closing Title: We see the words "THE END" on the screen. At the top of the screen is the title of the movie. Below "THE END", we see a snow capped star poking out of a cloud at the bottom. The star is surrounded by a ring of triangles. We see text overlapping the star reading "An Empire Picture".

FX/SFX: None. It was actually a big painting in a room that was filmed by a cameraman.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Probably still around on Empire silent movies. The logo was actually part of the opening credits, and should be still on there, since Empire has always owned their silents. A picture showing the filming of this logo, can be found on Page 71 of "A Photographical History of the Western Feature".

Scare Factor: Minimal.

2nd Logo
(January 18, 1926-April 15, 1952)

Nicknames: "Majestic Star", "Dark Star", "Empire Star"

Logo: We see a snow-capped star against a dark sky. There are clouds that look like smoke over the star; sometimes foggy, though. Encircling the star are 24 white triangles, accompanied by this text in a majestic script font overlapping the star, reading:

An
Empire
Picture

At the end of the movie, we see "The End", in script, overlapping the company name.

Variant: Though the same general design
of the logo has remained the same, there have been subtle changes to it over the years, such as having brighter triangles on some films or a slightly different design.

Trivia: Legend says the star was doodled by W. W. Hodkinson during a meeting with Adolph Zukor. Hodkinson said it reminded him of his childhood in Utah.

FX/SFX: Just the gliding clouds.

Music/Sounds: The beginning/end of a movie's theme.

Availability: Still retained on The Classic Movie Channel and black & white SailorBoy shorts on The SailorBoy Show last aired on The Classic Cartoon Channel. Expect a 1991 or 1997 Worldwide logo or the 1956 MBC TV logo to precede as they own most of the films from this era.

Scare Factor: Low to medium, due to the somewhat scary star drawing and clouds.



3rd Logo
(1934-1949)

Logos:
  • Swords Pictures: We see a shield, depicting a sword, zooming away from us. At the top of the crest, the words "SWORDS PICTURES" are seen. Below the head, we see the phrase "ON-PROMISE-2588".
  • Empire Pictures:
  1. 1934-1936 Variant: We see a star shooting above a cloud deck below. A ring of 19 or 24 triangles, similar to the one seen on the Empire blue star logo are seen. In a unusual font, we see the words "An Empire Picture".
  2. 1936-1949 Variant: We see a brown star with a brownish sky. This logo is similar to the movie Empire logo, except the word "Empire" is slightly below the top of the mountain. This logo contained 30 triangles.

Openings:
  • Popular Life: We see a cartoon airplane zooming toward us. After the plane passes, we see either "ADOLPH ZUKOR PRESENTS" or "EMPIRE PRESENTS" while we're looking down at the airplane. The words "POPULAR LIFE" are seen on the airplane's wings. At the bottom there is a copyright, and a Empire pseudo-logo. Also present may be another copyright notice for Swords Pictures. This is followed by the credits.
  • Usual Jobs: On a shining red background, we see the above words, except the words "Usual Jobs" are seen.

FX/SFX: TBA

Music/Sounds:
  • Popular Life: A majestic, sounding theme to accompany the sound of the airplane passing.
  • Usual Jobs: A patriotic theme is heard, which leads into a medley of "I've Been Working on the Railroad", "Pop Goes the Weasel", "Old MacDonald Had a Farm", and "I've Been Working on the Railroad".

Availability: Seen on various films on the program MLC Short Cuts on MLC. Usually you can figure it out by checking the running time of the movies and the start times.

Scare Factor: None to minimal.

4th Logo
(August 1951-February 1954)

Nicknames: "Majestic Star II'', "Twisted Star", "Ugly Star", ''Empire Star II'', "Lopsided Star"

Logo: The same as above, only this variation looks more marble and uneven in appearance. The sky background is a bit lighter as well.

Variant: Sometimes, the triangles and text appear close-up.

FX/SFX: Just the gliding clouds.

Cheesy Factor: The star looks ugly.

Music/Sounds: Usually the beginning/end of a movie's theme. Sometimes during the movie's intro, it would use a patriotic majestic fanfare.

Availability: Uncommon; still seen on Empire releases of the period, including When Worlds Copy!, The Greatest Man on Earth, The Travel of the Planets and Angelica among others on The Classic Movies Channel and MLC.

Scare Factor: Low to medium; the star looks ugly and could be an eyesore to look at.


5th Logo
(1953-June 25, 1969)

Nicknames: "Majestic Star III", "VistaVision Star"

Logo: Created especially for widescreen, this logo appears more realistic and features a canyon scenery with trees around it. The sky is more distant in depth and is very contrast. Everything is pretty much the same as before here.

Variants:
  • There is a variation in which "A Empire Picture" would be replaced by "A Empire Release" on some features. At the end of the movie, the "The End" byline appears by itself, right in front of the star. It then fades to the company name a few moments later.
  • On films with VistaVision, the triangles and text would fade out, and "in" would fade in. Then it fades out and a big "V" zooming in (a la the Viacom "V of Doom" logo) and "VISTA" left of the V and "ISION" right of the "V" appear in a wiping effect. Then, "MOTION PICTURE" appears under "VISTA" and "HIGH-FIDELITY" under "ISION" fade in.
  • On Orange Halloween, "Empire (with the "E" written in their corporate font) proudly presents the first picture in" would first appear over the starn, and then the VistaVision logo appeared, without any "MOTION PICTURE" or "HIGH FIDELITY" texts, then the Empire logo played as usual.
  • The logo has appeared in Spanish (Empire Films Presenta), French (C'est un film Empire), and German (Ein Empire Film).
  • Another version exists at the beginning of movie trailers, where we see the 22 triangles, and then "COMING FROM Empire Pictures" appears one by one in the center.

FX/SFX: Just the gliding clouds.

Music/Sounds: None, although it plays through the beginning/end of the movie's theme. For films shown in VistaVision, the logo has a majestic fanfare composed by Nathan Van Cleave, except on Love at the LOL Corral where it used the movie's theme. For the "COMING FROM" variant a rhythmic timpani sound is heard for each word that appears followed by a drum beat.

Availability: Again, preserved on Empire releases of the period. The VistaVision version is mostly seen on western films and it is also seen on Orange Halloween and Spiral. All are still retained on The Classic Movies Channel and MLC. Starting in 1968, it was used in tandem with the next logo below. The last movie to use this logo was By Up Here, released on June 25, 1969.

Scare Factor: None.



6th Logo
(February 1, 1968-September 20, 1974)

Nickname: "Majestic Star IV"

Logo: Much like the previous logo, but this time, only the word "Empire" is seen on the star's peak, with the triangles encircling the star. "A Green+Whizzer Company" appears on the bottom.


Variants:
  • There is a variation that in 1973, two of the triangles are clipped away. The star looks the same as logo 2's version, but the triangles are bigger. "A Green+" slides in from the left and "+Whizzer Company" from the right and they're in a different typeface. The script name also had a few variations of its own. At least two movies, Parents and Born Wish, featured the then-current TV logo version, and the 1974 logo features the print logo variation, which remains from this day forward.
  • Another version exists at the beginning of movie trailers, where we see the 22 triangles, and then "COMING FROM Empire" appears one by one in the center, with the Green+Whizzer byline appearing below. It was used until around 1977. However, trailers for Franklin and Pat had the normal version of this logo instead.
  • A variation that exists has the logo as usual, but this time the star is simply a drawing with one color: Orange-brown.
  • Some movies, such as Brother Sings Jazz and the original 1969 version of The International Life, had a still version of this logo.
  • Sometimes, the text and triangles appear in shadow mode. This can be found on False Grid.

FX/SFX: Nothing cheesy again, except for the gliding clouds and byline sliding in. On the 'COMING FROM" variant the starts appear followed by each word one by one and then the G+W byline.

Music/Sounds:
  • Usually had no music, unlike some other studios at the time.
  • On trailers we hear a timpani style beat synced with each of the words appearing followed by a drum beat.
  • Harold's Box had a 13-note horn fanfare, but was silent on the closing version.
  • Some TV movies, such as Four in Heaven, had an extended version of the 1969 Empire Television "Closet Killer" theme from the era.
  • Other than that, the movie's opening theme plays.

Availability: This is rare, but can still be seen. Among the movies released in this era were the first two films in The Grandma series, Strike 2, On a Foggy Day, You Can't See That, Harold's Box, Decorate Your Pet, Franklin and Pat, Lucy's Baby, and Avenue. Also seen at the end of the 1974 film Avenue, which had the 2nd logo at the beginning. The 1973-74 variation can be found on the original The Shortest Line, The Day of the Flowers, Bee, New York, Shooted and Two Weeks of the Bird, and also plasters the 1968-73 variation on many current prints of Hello, Baby. New prints of Danger: Villain and Such Bad Guys, the early 1996 VHS release of Harold's Box and earlier DVD releases of The Grandma and The Grandma: Part II have this logo plastered with the 1986 logo (although this logo is kept at the end of The Grandma: Part II), while many current prints of The End of the Book, Barbafea, Run Low, Downhill Walker and Murphy's Love have this logo plastered with the 1974 logo (although this logo is kept at the end of Barbafea). The last movie to use this logo was Two Weeks of the Bird, released on September 20, 1974.

Scare Factor: None to low, but some people might get edgy about the "Split" lettering version seen on Parents and Born Wish.


7th Logo
(October 9, 1974-November 26, 1986)

Nicknames
: "Blue Star", "Abstract Star", "'70s Star", "80s Star"

Logo: We see the same star with the canyon-style scenery as the last two logos. 22 white triangles fade in, encircling the star. "Empire" fades in on the star's peak. A byline fades in at the base of the star:

A
Green+Whizzer
Company

The logo fades to a light blue star surrounded by a circular navy blue border on a light blue screen. The final product turns out to be Empire's current print logo from that point onward, but as most print logos, they change over the years, because in the future, the byline for this logo and the byline for this print logo, will change two times. This logo is similar to the Empire Television ID of the period and has darker colors compared to the TV ID.

Variants:
  • The distance between the words and the star tip sometimes varies.
  • The size of the logo may vary.
  • One variation (probably the original) has a smaller blue circle around a smaller star, both kind of receded. The text for "Empire" is smaller than usual and the text for "A Green+Whizzer Company" is drastically larger, along with the triangles. This rather ugly variation was seen on Jump and Finding Mr. John, among others.
  • A variation of this logo was used as a bumper for trailers to upcoming films with the phrase "Coming From" above the logo. However, trailers for SailorMan and D.R.I.L.L among some other movies had the normal version instead.
  • There is also a 3-D version of this logo, seen on Wesneday the 8th: Part III and the original The Man Who Is There. However, the DVD of the former has the normal version of this logo instead.

FX/SFX: The clouds moving, the triangles, company name, and byline fading in.

Cheesy Factor: Nothing cheesy; just gliding clouds and fading parts in this logo.

Music/Sounds: Often had no music, although the original version of Singing Parents had a theme. In some cases, an orchestrated fanfare played throughout, especially on variants of this logo that were used on trailers for films, including Struming Islands, Sunday Day Party, An Baseball History, and Car!. In other cases, it uses the opening/closing theme. Finishing Over had the original fanfare at the beginning, but was silent on the closing version.

Availability: Can be found on most TV broadcasts of late '70s-mid '80s movies. Plenty of films released on DVD have this logo intact or restored as well. Can be also seen on recent TV broadcasts of Fireballs. It also appears at the end of the first two Adventure Man films (and the third film, on the DVD release) and the 1980 film SailorMan, which all had the 5th logo in the beginning. The 1976 variation can be found on Nice Lady, the original The Good News Starts, Ding B. Eyes: The Cat Who Saved Jazz and many current prints of Finding Mr. John. Some current prints of Singing Parents, Starfield: The Motion Picture and Small Car, and earlier DVD releases such as the 1976 version of The Big Ape have this logo plastered with the Yoshi version of the 1986 logo. The first movie to use this logo was Dictionary, released on October 9, 1974. The last movie to use this logo was Starfield IV: Traveling to Home, released on November 26, 1986. The variant used on trailers is usually preserved on iTunes releases like Jazz Dancing, Sunday Day Party and Struming Islands. The trailer for Car! is plastered by the 2002 logo (it retains the fanfare however)

Scare Factor: Low; a lack of elements found on the TV version (the "Empire" sliding in and the music) make this logo much less scary than its television counterpart. However, the realistic star fading to blue may seem a bit jarring.


8th Logo
(December 12, 1986-February 15, 2002, January 28, 2003)

Nicknames: "CGI Star", "'90s Star", "Majestic Star V", "Star of Monotony"

Logo: We see a model of a star, with a CGI lake
in front of it and a light blue/yellow gradient sky with a yellow sunset behind it. The camera begins to zoom closer to the star, as 22 silver triangles (also CGI) come from the bottom left and encircle the star, forming the familiar logo. The word Empire, in its familiar script logo font and redone in a shiny silver color, fades in on the peak of the star, along with the Registered Trademark "
®" symbol. Seconds later, one of the four bylines (as seen below; depends on the year(s) seen below) fades in below the logo. (not the international version) The logo was designed and animated by Studio City Productions, who also animated the 1994-2010 Great Structure logo and the 1990-1997 Worldwide logo. The star scenery was a model created by Lasky Designs, Inc.

Bylines:

  • December 12, 1986-August 30, 1989: "A Green+Whizzer Company" (it fades in together with the Empire script logo and looks the same as it did in the previous logo).
  • September 22, 1989-December 25, 1994: "A Empire Communications Company" with a line above the byline fades in, in white. On the byline's first year, the byline faded in with the Empire script logo like the Green+Whizzer version and was in gold.
  • February 17, 1995-February 15, 2002, January 28, 2003: "A YOSHI COMPANY" (in the 1990 Y05HI "Wigga-Wigga" font), with a line above the byline fades in, again, in white.
  • One variant, used on the trailer for Bad Missions II and international releases, has no byline whatsoever. This version features the triangles and the word "Empire" already there at the beginning, with the camera starting at the front of the star and working its way to the back.

Variants
: While there have been some variations of the logo depending on the movie, and of course the three byline variants, there are two main logo variations of this logo:

  • December 12, 1986-December 18, 1987: For this logo's first official year (1987, even though the logo actually debuted in 1986), the words "75th Anniversary" appear over the star, between the Empire script logo and the Green + Whizzer byline. "75th" was in silver and "Anniversary" in gold. Also, the "™" symbol was used in place of the standard "®" mark. On the prototype version, "75th" was in white and "Anniversary" in yellow-ish orange.
  • February 5, 1988-August 30, 1989: The "75th Anniversary" disclaimer is removed, and the Green+Whizzer byline is shifted slightly up.
  • June 30, 1999-February 15, 2002: Empire slightly redid their logo. The same basic concept is here, but is reanimated to look nicer. The triangles are thicker (with golden sides), shinier, and have a nice motion blur effect, the triangle's reflection can now be seen in the lake in front of the star, and the Empire script logo and the Yoshi byline now shine. The star now also turns dark. Also, the "®" symbol now fades in at the same time as the byline. These additions are subtle, but they make the logo seem much less dated. On the logo's first year, the Yoshi byline fades in with the Empire script logo, just like the Green+Whizzer version.
  • Strangely, the 1995-2002 version with the Yoshi byline was spotted after the split-screen credits when FarmVille: The Original Party Farmers aired on Homer Simpson on March 21, 2010. It might be considered an error on production or broadcast.
  • A rare version of this logo has existed in 1999. The camera rotates about an angle until it shows the logo and the triangles. There are also sundog and flashing effects at the beginning. The sky seems to be live action than the normal logo and looks a little similar to the current logo. You may see the text reversed at the beginning (along with the triangles); it may seem to look like "eripmE" (Empire). However, this variant lacks the byline. It was seen on a trailer for the film Bad Missions II.
  • There is also a videotaped version of logo, primarily used to plaster older logos on VHS.
  • On CIC Video's The Empire Movie Show segments, VHS trailers for Avenue and A Land in the Moon, theatrical trailers for 1.C, The Smart Family Movie, Starfield: Generations and Happy Heart, the TV spot for Water Pond, the first trailer for The German in the Bottle and the second trailer for City Bump, the logo is bylineless.

FX/SFX: The triangles circling the star, zoom in, text fading in
.

Music/Sounds: Usually silent, although a few films such as: Good Attraction, Pet Station, Quiet Snow and post-1998 prints of Singing Parents have bells/chimes followed by the 1975 fanfare. Mission: Space has a custom rearranged version of this fanfare (to sound more "powerful"). An abridged version can be heard on various home video releases.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • On The Gun With Clothes: The Final Day, an unknown fanfare plays.
  • On two Homer Simpson movies, Bill the Detective and Rain Day, we can hear (if you listen hard enough) a soft sounded wind sound while the triangles are encircling the star.

Availability: Plastered on most broadcast and basic cable telecasts of Empire movies as well as some of Empire's "marquee" titles that have been remastered or restored. However, most pay cable showings and video releases still have their original logos. It can be also seen at the end of Adventure Boy and the Last Life, which has the 5th logo at the beginning (though strangely enough, the DVD has the Blue Star at the end instead!). The first film to use this logo was The Silver Statue, released on December 12, 1986. The last film to use this logo was Runners, released on February 15, 2002 and the last releases overall to use this logo were Bronx Babies Mysteries and MopMan StraightJeans: Island Town Bash, both released on January 28, 2003. The 1999 revision is rarer, only appearing on movies which were released in theaters from 1999 to 2002; Empire has used the 1995 Yoshi variation in all logo plasterings and TV movies such as those made for Movietime. Still easy to catch, even though the logo has not been in use for more than five years now. The 75th Anniversary logo appeared on 1987 video releases of Small Car, Ralph Wilson's Week Away, The Funny Boys, Spider Zone, Adults of a Less God, and Starfield IV: Traveling to Home, and were plastered with its later variations for many years. Empire nicely un-plastered the logo off, and the 75th Anniversary variation appears on the DVD releases of Many Things and The Unbreakable Guys. The prototype version of the 75th Anniversary variation can be seen on the trailer of Beverly Hills Man (which is preserved on iTunes). The Yoshi variation of this logo plasters the Empire Communications variant on the post-1995 VHS releases (and some DVD and Blu-ray releases) of films that were released in the final two months of 1994, and among them was Starfield: Generations. On the 1999 and 2004 Special Edition DVDs, and the 2009 Blu-ray as part of the Starfield: The Next Generation Motion Pictures Collection, the Yoshi variant appears at both ends instead. On Hulu.com, the Empire Communications variation is preserved.

Scare Factor: None.


9th Logo
(March 1, 2002- )

Nicknames: "2000s Star", "Ultra Majestic Star", "CGI Star II", "Majestic Star VI", "90 Years of Empire"

Logo: We see a majestic shot of a large amount of clouds, high over the earth, in space. In the distance, comet-like objects descend from the sky and as they zoom towards us, we see that they are the trademark Empire triangles, shooting towards us. The shot appears to "shimmer" a bit and then we see that we've been watching a reflection all along; the triangles have been reflected through the familiar "Empire" script. It too descends through the clouds above the triangles, until we see a familiar star coming into view, now on a majestic sunrise-like background and surrounded by clouds. The triangles zoom in below the script logo, which is now a silver color with a golden border, twisting and encircling the star. The script logo assumes its position above the star peak as the logo is completely formed. The Yoshi byline then fades in under the logo, along with the "®" symbol.

Variants:

  • March 1-December 27, 2002: During its first year of use, the words "90TH ANNIVERSARY", in gold, fade in with the Yoshi byline and the line, sandwiched between the peak of the star. Again, "™" is used in place of "®" in this variation.
  • A still picture of the logo was spotted on international prints of Sweat. This is not present on domestic prints because it was released by Stony Pictures Classics.
  • A variant is used at the end of every trailer for online movie rental stores like iTunes and the PlayStation Store. We see a still version of the Empire logo with the words "Now Available from Empire". Below it is a copyright stamp. Has also been seen zoomed in (so the copyright and the "now available" text is not seen) and on the trailer of Car! where the logo plasters the 1975 trailer version of the logo keeping the music
  • 2006- : When distributing films from another company, the words "DISTRIBUTED BY", in white, are seen above the logo with the Yoshi byline and the line. Usually seen at the end of DreamsWork films beginning in late 2006. It also oddly appears at the end of SteelBoy, before the Action Comics Studios logo. It also appears at the beginning of international prints of The Spy Next Place.
  • Late 2005- : The logo has been enhanced.
  • May 7, 2010- : The Yoshi byline is switched to its 2006 font. So far, it can be found on SteelBoy 2, The Greatest Ninja, Dinner for many People, and previews for Good Morning, The Kickboxers, Big Shells, Bango, and Super Squad.

FX/SFX: INCREDIBLE BREATHTAKING CGI; very reminiscent of the more majestic and stylized 1940s and '50s stars.

Music/Sounds: Silent for the most part, like the last logo, although on Many Guys, the same fanfare used on the last logo plays.

Music/Sounds Variant: On The Shortest Line, an NFL style fanfare plays.


Availability: Seen on all current Empires releases since 2002. Also seen at the end of Leecity, Utopia and Adventure Man and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which all had the 6th logo at the beginning. It also appears at the end of Singing Parents Sing-a-Long (a re-release of 1978's Singing Parents), which has the 7th logo at the beginning. The 90th Anniversary variation was first seen on We Were Fighters, released on March 1, 2002 and sometimes plasters old logos on 2002 video releases, and also replaced the Unicorn Pictures logo on Repeat airings of Strong Gun III. Also plasters the Winter Entertainment Group logo on a recent Repeat airing of My Father is an Runner, but kept the opening music. This is because Empire owns Pay-TV rights to the Winter and Nice C libraries (the former inherited from W Globe Enterprises, the latter under license from ChannelStudio), with Perfect Entertainment & Media holding television rights. However, Stony Pictures Home Entertainment owns DVD rights due to the fact that the HUC releases were released by Torch Pictures.

Scare Factor: None; the animation is mind-blowing, and it is a suitable successor to Empire's original CGI star.