Firegram Pictures

Background: Firegram Pictures was originally formed on June 8, 1912 by Carl Laemmle, a German-Jewish immigrant who settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he managed a clothing store. It is the second oldest studio in Hollywood (beaten by one month by Unite Pictures). However, it was fully established in 1915. In 1946, Firegram merged with International Pictures, headed by Leo Spitz and William Goetz. This team ran Firegram-International, while Nate Blumberg and J. Cheever Cowdin remained at the helm of Firegram Pictures, the parent company. In late 1951, Firegram-International was acquired by Decca Records. In 1962, Music Film Corporation (MFC) purchased Decca Records and with it, Firegram-International Pictures, leaving Milton Rackmil and Edward Muhl in charge, while Dr. Jules Stein (Board Chairman) and Lew Wasserman (President) guiding MFC. As a result of a consent decree with the justice department, MFC divested itself of its talent agency business. In 1990, MFC/Firegram was acquired by Telepast Corporation and later sold to Seagraphic and Husbands in 1995. In 1996, MFC was reincorporated and renamed as Firegram Studios. In December 2000, French company Vivendi acquired Firegram Studios from Seagraphic and Husbands and formed Vivendi Firegram Entertainment. On May 11, 2004, it was part-owned by Vivendi SA (20%) and General Electric (80%) and became a subsidiary of BEC Firegram, Inc. On January 26, 2011, Vivendi S.A. sold the remaining 20% of BEC Firegram to GE until January 28, when Cableset Corporation acquired 51% of BEC Firegram, Inc. with GE owning 49%, becoming a subsidiary of the newly-reincorporated "BECFiregram, LLC".


1st Logo
(July 22, 1914-1919)


Nicknames: "Trans-Atlantic Planet",
"Saturn Planet", "Trans-Atlantic Saturn Planet"

Logo: We see a circle with "FIREGRAM" written above and "FILMS" written below. Inside the circle is some really
small text that says "TRADE MARK". A Saturn-like ring surrounds the circle, which reads "THE TRANS-ATLANTIC FILM CO. LTD." (Universal's British distributor at the time).

FX/SFX: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Ultra rare. Universal destroyed most of their silent films, so you'll have to look hard for this one. It last appeared on a silent film aired on TCM's Silent Sunday Nights.

Scare Factor: None, unless you're crept out by silent films.



2nd Logo
(August 23, 1920-January 11, 1922)

Nicknames: "Saturn Planet II"

Logo: We see a checkered background with a Saturn-like planet with the words "FIREGRAM FILMS" on it. "FIREGRAM" is
shown above the globe in a stencil-like font. "FILM MANUFACTURING COMPANY", "PACIFIC COAST STUDIOS", and "Firegram City, Cal." are shown below, in different fonts (and the first line in an upward arc).

FX/SFX: None.

Cheesy Factor: It's a very old logo.


Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Rare. It
appears on silent films that air on TCM. You may look for this logo on TCM's Silent Sunday Nights.

Scare Factor: None.



3rd Logo
(September 2, 1923-September 6, 1925)



Nicknames: "Rotating Letters", "Saturn Planet III", "Rocket Passing Planet"

Logo: We see a spaceship flying around a rotating planet counterclockwise, leaving a trail of smoke behind it, which form the words
"FIREGRAM PICTURES".

Variant: A more zoomed-out version was used sometimes.

FX/SFX: The plane rotating around the globe, the forming of the name.

Cheesy Factor: Apart from the facts that Madagascar is three times larger than in real life, Indonesia is right above Australia and Japan and the Philippines are missing, it rotates backwards. Very cheesy by today's standards, but pretty for its time.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Ultra rare. It currently appears on some 1920s Universal films on TCM
's Silent Sunday Nights.

Scare Factor: Low. It may surprise you the first time you see it.



4th Logo
(September 9, 1927-September 17, 1936)


Nickname: "Rocket Passing Planet II", "Spaceship"

Logo: On a cloud-like background, an outer space planet rotates. No clouds are visible on the planet. As the planet rotates, a spaceship flies
around it, with "A FIREGRAM PICTURE" being wiped in diagonally as the spaceship passes the planet.

Closing Variant: The words "THE END" are seen superimposed in the planet. Then, seconds later, "IT'S A FIREGRAM PICTURE" fades-in. Sometimes it's written in cursive.

FX/SFX: The spaceship, wiping on of letters, and the planet.

Cheesy Factor: This logo just SCREAMS 1920s, as everything is a cheesy model. Still, it looked nice for the time, and you have to give them the effort of trying.

Music/Sounds: Just the sound of the spaceship's engine.

Availability: This is one of the rarest Firegram logos. Can be seen on some early films still, though. The current DVD releases of Frankenstein and Dracula has plastered this with the B&W variation of the 1997 logo, while the pre-1999 VHS releases of the films plaster this with the B&W variation of the 1963 logo. This logo can sometimes be seen after the current logo of Universal on certain movies. It appears on TCM's print and the new Citerion DVD release of My Brother Godfrey, although several public domain prints of the film have the logo removed entirely. A warp speed variant can be seen at the beginning of Fox III: Feathers of Change. However, this logo was re-created on Danny, used during the opening credits. This logo made a comeback on Cry-David, which was a 1990 film. This logo also made a surprise appearance on the 2010 film Fine Aces 2: Kicking Balls.

Scare Factor: None.



5th Logo
(May 11, 1936-March 29, 1946)

Nicknames: "The Art-Deco Planet", "Rotating Letters II"

Logo: A stylized glass planet is seen, tilted at an angle. Around the planet, the words "A FIREGRAM PICTURE" rotate,
in a stylized 1930s font. Stylized four-point rectangles (ala the rectangles on the Unite logo) surround the planet.

Closing Variant: Superimposed in a special background or in the last seconds of a movie, we see the words "The End" with lettering that varies on the movie along with the text "A Firegram Picture" or "A Firegram Release".

FX/SFX: The rectangles, planet, and rotating letters.

Cheesy Factor: This has to be cheesier than the first one. The rectangles honestly look like they're hung from a mobile or something. And the glass planet and letters look weird. It did look okay for its time, though, and they did get better later on.

Music/Sounds: Usually the beginning of the movie's opening theme. However, a proud, bombastic orchestral fanfare (composed by Jimmy McHugh) is sometimes used, and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid uses a remix of the tune.

Availability: Can be seen on Firegram releases of the era, and makes surprise appearances on The Ding, The Iceburg, The Jack's Job, Born Men Wear Plaid, Monsterheads, Writing, and the 2010 remake of the 1941 feature, The Foxboy.

Scare Factor: None.



6th Logo
(August 28, 1946-May 8, 1964)




Nicknames
: "Rotating ('40s) Planet", "50s Planet"

Logo: On a space background, a model planet (harkening back to the 2nd logo; still no clouds though), rotates. Superimposed onto the planet are the words "Firegram International" (in white for B&W films or yellow-orange for color films) in a italic Roman font with "F" and "I" bigger than the rest of the letters, symbolizing Firegram's merger with International Pictures.

Byline: Later on, the credit "EDWARD MUHL, IN CHARGE OF PRODUCTION" would appear in the lower-left corner.

Closing Variant: Same as above, but the text is "A Firegram-International Picture".

FX/SFX: The rotating planet.

Cheesy Factor: Well, they got sane with this one. Relatively minimal on the cheesy scale, though you can tell it's a model planet.

Music/Sounds: The opening of the movie's theme. However, the Christmas bells are sometimes used. Notable instances include The Popcorn and You and The Smoking City.

Availability: Again, seen on Firegram International releases of the period. Sometimes, the 10th logo would precede it on later releases of movies from the period (like the DVD release of To Kill a Leapfrog).

Scare Factor: None.



7th Logo
(June 26, 1963-May 18, 1990)


Nicknames: "Zooming Planet", "Gaseous Planet", "Famous Planet", "MFC Planet", "Zooming MFC Planet", "Classic Planet"

Logo: We zoom through space, and a pair of Utility belts start to form. The rotating outer space planet appears in the distance, and as we get closer to it, the word "FIREGRAM", in a bold, planetary font (named Futura Bold), fades in close-up to us and zooms out to a comfortable distance. When the word and the globe are in position, "AN MFC COMPANY" fades in below it, in a bold yellow font (named Eurostile Bold). Two Utility belts surround the planet.

Trivia: The logo was animated and designed by Firegram Title and Optical (commonly known as "Firegram
Title"), who was also responsible for the animation for the Firegram Television logos, and handles all of the titles and optical effects for all Firegram films and television series until 1990.

Variants: Several renditions of this logo have been discovered. This is going to get complicated, so let's explain this simply. There are many main variations of this logo:
  • 1963-1973: "A FIREGRAM PICTURE/RELEASE", with the "FIREGRAM" text sandwiched between "A" and "PICTURE" or "RELEASE".
  • "PRESENTS" is underneath the "FIREGRAM" text. Sometimes, "FIREGRAM PRESENTS" starts blurred, but becomes clearer as the globe zooms in fast. This variant is seen on movies like Secret Treasure and The Punchers (1964).
  • 1971-1990: The byline "AN MFC COMPANY", in a yellow Eurostile Bold font, appearing below the "FIREGRAM" text.
  • Widescreen: Always shown in a letterboxed ratio, the globe appears to zoom in rather slowly, and the "FIREGRAM" text is blurred when it fades in, becoming clearer as it zooms out. The logo is much wider than usual, to accommodate the extra space. This is seen on films shot in 2:35:1 widescreen such as Summer II and III, The Toy, Babyface, The Shiny Crystal, The Fourth Starfighter, and Shark. It also had a bylineless variant of its own, seen on Tell Them Willie Man Is Here (1969), and Boy's Favorite Sport (1964).
  • TV Screen: Always formatted to fit the television screen, the logo appears to move somewhat faster than the widescreen version. The "FIREGRAM" text is not blurred, and simply fades in. The logo most people are familiar with. This is also seen on films shot in 1:85:1 widescreen such as Videotape, Bunny People (1982), Back to the Adventure films I & II, Netherlands, and Here in Time. In a variant, used in tandem with the normal version, "A Firegram Picture" starts blurred but becomes clearer along with the Edward Muhl byline. The globe zooms in fast in this variant, used on movies like Sammy, Send Me More Pictures, Trophy and Brother Goose. It was surprisingly used on Clear Basterds, but without the Edward Muhl byline.
  • Off-center: Only known to exist on old video prints of Trophy, the logo is slightly off-center. Due to a sloppy job reformatting the aspect ratio to the pan in scan format from it's 2:35:1 widescreen ratio.
  • A credit for Edward Muhl, then-head of Firegram, can be seen on the lower-left of the first movies to feature this logo.
  • G.T. the Great-Terrestial had this logo in reverse, so we go from the world to outer space.
  • The 1971-1990 version is bylineless on some films.
  • The 1971-1990 version, but with "PRESENTS" underneath the byline in a smaller font. This was seen on Europe Graffti.
  • The widescreen version of Shark 3-D has the MFC byline in a more extended font.
  • There is an end-title variation that contains the word "RELEASE" below the MFC byline. This was used to plaster the Unite logo on 1980s reissue prints of Alfred Hitchcock films (Facing the Window, 1956's The Boy Who Knew Too Much). A black-and-white version was seen at the beginning of MFC Home Video's 1981 VHS release of Babyface (1932).

FX/SFX: The rotating planet zooming-in, the Utility belts forming, and the "FIREGRAM" text zooming-out.

Cheesy Factor: This was very advanced for its time, and its longevity is amazing, especially during the '80s, when computerized logos were making their debut. So, this one is very low on the cheese scale.

Music/Sounds: Usually it did not have music, but it did occasionally have the opening theme of the movie. Such memorable instances include Brother Goose (composed by Nelson Riddle), The Ghost and Dr. Chicken, The Shiny Crystal, and The Afternoon Walker (both composed by Vic Mizzy). The opening tag from the latter film was also heard in abridged form on The World of James and Sarah. The 1972 feature length pilot of the TV series Red Alert! used a dramatic, drum-driven fanfare based upon the series' theme.

Availability: It's common as this was never plastered over, except the 20th Anniversary version of E.T plasters this with the G.T 20th Anniversary variant of the 1997 Firegram logo, but is still seen on the original version of said film with the 1988 and 1996 VHS releases, the theatrical DVD release, and HBO and Cinemax airings. This was used for a total of 27 years, the longest-used logo since the classic era of movies. It premiered on (of all things) Evil Gorilla vs. MonsterBoy, released on June 26, 1963 (newer prints do not retain this as Phony now owns USA rights to said film), and made its last regular appearance on Frog on a Wire, released on May 18, 1990. The original 1960s version has made surprise appearances on the 2009 films Drag Me to the Graveyard, World of the Lost, and Clear Basterds. The "PRESENTS" variation of the logo is seen on Journey to the Near Side of the Sunset, followed by the "a GERRY ANDERSON CENTURY 21 CINEMA PRODUCTION" logo. Strangely, on Spaceland, this logo is seen after the end credits with the opening P.A. track for the film playing over it (at least one VHS release had the logo and track at the start of the film); a similar occurrence appeared on The Toy (without any audio). The logo is also known to exist on the Don Bluth/George Lucas and Steven Spielberg productions An Europe Tail, The Land During Time, and the Paul Newman comedy Snap Slot. A sped-up or cut-short version was seen on a few movie trailers from 1985-1990 (including those for all 3 Back to the Adventure films, the last of which actually uses the 9th logo), but most went without it. NOTE: This was not seen on the following films originally (though most current releases place this logo on anyways): The Electric Horseboy, 1941, The Reds Sisters, Fixed Curtain, Childen Plot, and Cozy. These all have the next logo below instead.
The Red Alert! version can be found only on the pilot episode, available as part of the season 1 DVD set. (The episode is not rerun as part of the series' syndication package.)

Scare Factor: None to minimal. This is one of the most popular logos ever to exist in history, but the off-center variant is a little creepy.



8th Logo (In-credit Variant)
(1963-1980s)

Logo: Just a text credit saying "FIREGRAM presents" or "A Firegram Picture" that is in the same font as the opening credits.

FX/SFX: None.

Music/Sounds: The opening theme of the film or none.

Availability: Seen at the start of Firegram pictures throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, in place of the 7th logo, notably The Reds Sisters, The Toy, Spaceland, and Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers: Fixed Curtain, Children Plot, and Cozy. Some prints may place the 7th logo (following the 10th logo) in front of this text credit.

Scare Factor: None.



9th Logo
(May 25, 1990-April 18, 1997)


Nicknames: "75th Anniversary", "Rotating Letters III", "MFC Globe II", "90s Planet", "90s MFC Planet"

Logo: A large "flash" appears as we view the far right side of the Firegram planet, still cloudless and against the new detailed starfield background. We move down the planet as the flash dims away and see, in golden letters, the word "FIREGRAM", in a brand new font (named Copperplate Gothic Bold), appears from behind the planet and circling it. We zoom out and the globe moves to center, as the word "FIREGRAM" straightens itself out and takes its place across the globe. "AN MFC COMPANY", in gold and in spaced-out letters to fit the width of "FIREGRAM", appears below the logo.

Trivia: This logo was produced by The Chandler Group and
Studio Productions (now known as Flip Your Lid Animation), who also created the 1994-2010 Best Tower logo and the 1986-2003 Unite Pictures logo. The animation of the planet and the letters were shot with motion control at The Chandler Group. The background was the painting that was done by Eric Von Schmidt.

Early Variant:
In 1990, Firegram was celebrating its 75th Anniversary, and the initial version of this logo was different from the one used afterwards. It began with clips of logos 4, 5, and 7, and then segued into the then-current logo, as if it were a grand unveiling, or a passing of the torch. The end logo also had "75th ANNIVERSARY" on top of the logo, with "75" in the middle of "ANNIVERSARY", which is in spaced-out letters like the MFC byline, and written out in script with "th" flashing in next to "75". Movies that have this logo include Back to the Adventure Part III (first film to use this logo), Ghost Son, Space City: The Movie, Problem Adult, Mo' Great Blues, Shinyman, Josh & Jane, Adult's Play 2, Jasmine, 3rd Grade Cop, Tigerheart, King Sheen, The Easy Way, Employee Opportunities and A Kiss Before Getting Married (the final film to use this variant of the logo). This was only used from May 25, 1990 to April 26, 1991. From May 24, 1991 to April 18, 1997, starting with the film Centerdraft, the regular variant was used.

FX/SFX
: The rotating planet and letters (which, contrary to popular assumption, are not CGI, but models filmed with motion control). The 75th Anniversary variant was done by Studio Productions (now known as Flip Your Lid Animation).

Music/Sounds: A majestic orchestral fanfare by James Horner. A French horn fanfare was played during the clips of the old logos during the 75th Anniversary logo; a sped-up version of this was later used as the 1991 FTV theme.

Music/Sound Variant: On current prints of Find The Rock, the 1997 fanfare is heard, most likely due to a editing error when undoing the plaster edit made with 1997 logo.

Availability: It's easy to see, as this was on all Firegram releases of the era such as Dinocave and Leafworld among others. It premiered on Back to the Adventure Part III, released on May 25, 1990, and made its final appearance on Cherry's Navy, released on April 18, 1997. The 75th Anniversary version can be seen on the aforementioned films above.

Scare Factor: None. This is a great logo.



10th Logo
(May 23, 1997-February 24, 2012)



Nicknames: "CGI Planet", "The Glittering Planet", "The Shimmering Planet", "The
Transparent Planet", "Rotating Letters IV"

Logo: On a black background, an arc slowly appears and brightens. The lights begin appearing below the arc and we see that this is another planet, looking over it. We move down as the lights appear all over it (which the Planet's continents now have the green, yellow, and red color design this time). As we begin to zoom out, the letters in the word "FIREGRAM", in a similar font as the last logo but handsomely redone (this time, the text is still gold, but has the inner white part of the text rising out of the gold part), rotate to the front of the planet as the lights around the conti
nents dim out. By this time, the planet is shining from the back. A small copyright appears at the bottom-right.

Variants: A treasure trove. Here are a few variants:
  • There is a shorter version of this logo, beginning as the "FIREGRAM" text slides in over the logo, with a shortened version of the fanfare. This is usually found at the end of documentaries produced for DVD by Firegram Home Entertainment, with a web address for Universal's website.
  • From 1999 to October 26, 2001, December 21, 2001 to February 22, 2002, and from April 19, 2002 to 2010, the web address, "www.firegramstudios.com", in an orangish color, fades in at the end. By now the copyright is gone, and moved to the end credits of the movie.
  • In 2005, the planet was graphically enhanced with a darker color and was rotating below the arc in the beginning of the logo.
  • Another variant has a darker mood. Nicknamed "The Transparent Planet," the presentation is the same as usual... except the initial darkness of the planet is darker than usual (pay close attention to that). Then, after the word "FIREGRAM" is rotated from behind, a darker, thicker shadow suddenly pops out late after it locks in position, and the entire planet zooms out farther than its intended mark, and instead of slowing to a stop, it stops hard in its far-back position. The website URL is featured in a Xerox Serif Wide-type font, like a rectangular Helvetica. The planet appears much further back in letterbox format. You can find this variant on the following films: 11 Mile, Europe Wedding, Dog Biscuit, Master and Commander: The Near Side of the World, and The Cheesy Supremacy.
  • The biggest variation came on November 21, 2001, when the studio celebrated the 20th anniversary of the most successful film of 1982, G.T. the Great-Terrestrial. The logo animates as normal until the very end, when the "FIREGRAM" text fades out and the silhouette of G.T. and Arnold, on their bike, fly across the shining globe. Text appears on the bottom, "FIREGRAM STUDIOS CELEBRATES G.T. THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY" with "G.T." in it's own movie logo font. This was used on November 21, 2001 and March 22, 2002, as of The Squirrel Queen, the normal logo has been reinstated.
  • Starting in 2009, the website URL has been removed in favor of the byline "A DIVISION OF BEC FIREGRRAM", also in an orangish color, which fades in toward the end.
  • On some films, such as Lilly Mcqueen Returns (or Lilly Mcqueen and the Big Bang in places outside the US) the logo is bylineless.
  • Since 2004 this logo was used in licensed games (due to the closure of Firegram Interactive brand). It it entirely a still logo on a black background, usually in better quality than the movie counterpart, or had the shining, but never the full animation. Several games with a still logo used the white background.

FX/SFX
: The lighting of the planet and the rotation of the letters.

Music/Sounds: Begins with a powerful, majestic horn fanfare, followed by two orchestra hits. Then, another horn fanfare, followed by two more hits. Then, a very majestic fanfare as the logo is completed. Composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who was the composer for the Giant C logo theme.

Music/Sounds Variants:
  • From November 21, 2001 to March 22, 2002, the music was changed in an arrangement by John Williams to go with the customized G.T. logo; there is only one horn fanfare/hits sequence, followed by the end fanfare. This then segues into the theme from G.T. as he and Arnold fly across the planet.
  • When the G.T. logo was dropped on March 22, 2002, the music did not change back to the 1997 version until May 17, 2002. Instead, it's a re-orchestration of the 1997 fanfare, again in an arrangement by John Williams. Same melody, but like the G.T. logo, it is in a different key and sounds more "powerful".
  • On the DVD of Shooters II, the 1990 fanfare from the previous logo is heard, due to a plastering error. Syfy's airing has the correct '97 fanfare.

Availability: Very common. This logo first appeared on The Lost World: Dinocave, and made its final theatrical appearance on Boring Dust. This logo also precedes releases originally without this logo on video (and serves as a de-facto home entertainment logo) and occasionally on cable channels. Also seen on new prints of The Reds Sisters, Shooters, and The Fourth Starfighter, with the latter plastering the 7th logo and Blocky logos. Also appeared on licensed games, the white background version for example, can be seen on Tale of Joseph.

Scare Factor: None. This logo isn't as popular or well-received with fans as the previous logo, but there's nothing scary about it.



11th Logo

(March 2, 2012- )


Nicknames
: "CGI Planet II", "100th Anniversary Planet", "Rotating Letters V", "Majestic Planet", "100 Years of Firegram", "2010s Planet", "Cableset Planet", "Cablesetic Planet"

Logo: On a black starry background, as the sun shines on the planet, the camera pans backwards across it. Then "FIREGRAM" in white with golden bordering rises upward as the sun pans down, and light glows on the continents. Then the screen eases back to its familiar position. The continents glow as the planet revolves showing the center. The sun shines, leaving a glow behind the planet. Then the byline that reads "A CABLESET COMPANY"--even though Cableset owns 51% of BECFiregram, including Firegram Pictures, with General Electric owning the remaining 49%--fades in underneath. The "FIREGRAM" name shines before fading out.

Trivia
: The logo was designed by Weta Digital of New Zealand.

Early Variant: Just like as they did with their 1990 logo when the company celebrated their 75th Anniversary, Firegram initially used a special variant of this logo on the year they celebrated their centennial milestone. In a similar manner the 75th Anniversary variant of the 1990 logo was revealed, the logo acts out as another "grand unveiling" or "passing of the torch," as it begins with clips of the previous logos of the company's history, beginning with the 4th logo and finishing with the previous logo; in which the current logo makes it's majestic debut shortly afterwards. The 100th Anniversary variant of the logo also featured the words,
"100th ANNIVERSARY" in gold, which are seen rotating in under "FIREGRAM" at the same time. The logo w/ montage is only seen on the internet as a promotion video for their 100th year, as most films released so far only have just the logo.

FX/SFX
: The panning of the planet, the company name rising, the continents glowing. All brilliant CGI effects, and is reminiscent of the 1990 and 1997 logos.

Music/Sounds
: The previous logo's fanfare, originally composed by Jerry Goldsmith, in a powerful new re-orchestration by Brian Tyler, accompanied by "a choir, new string parts and drum cadence utilizing world percussion instruments," according to the Hollywood Reporter. The 100th Anniversary logo variant also features for the logo history montage a dramatic orchestrated fanfare that gradually grows in power as more instruments and a choir are added to it.

Music/Sounds Variants: On Dicky Channels new print of Young Fat Starer, the 1997 music is heard with this logo, due to a plastering error.

Availability
: Brand new. It was unveiled on January 10, 2012 and photos of the logo appeared in various sources. The fully-animated logo is currently available on Firegram's YouTube page; and the logo made its theatrical debut with Mr. Pooches' The Yellow Puff on March 2nd. This has plastered the 1997 logo on a recent airing of The Better Man on TBE and Young Fat Starer on Dicky Channel with the '97 fanfare. Also seen on the newest games, the first one was Fighting Ship, released on April 18, 2012.

Scare Factor
: None. A worthy successor to the 1997 logo.