Lyon, Montpellier, Toulouse, Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville
The oldest American movie studio still in production celebrates a century of film innovation.
2012 marks the anniversary of Universal Studios, one of the top six major movie producers. Amongst it´s most successful films are: Gladiator, Billy Elliot, Bridget Jones, Love Actually and Back to the Future. An uncertain trajectory filled with both successes and failures has led Universal Studios to it´s current position with NBC Universal.
Shopkeeper turns film producer
After having managed a clothing store, it was a trip to Chicago that inspired Carl Laemmle of Jewish heritage to take an interest in Nickelodeons: multi-purpose theatres that featured motion pictures, illustrated songs, slide shows and lectures. However, due to the taxes he had to pay to the patent company, Edison, he decided to create his own films in the name of the Yankee Film Company, which soon became the Universal Film Manufacturing Company in 1912.
Hollywood placed next to a chicken farm
Glamorous Hollywood has always been considered a patriotic emblem of the American dream, however it was actually founded by a German and it was originally set up next to a chicken farm. Carl Laemmle is considered one of the founding architects of this chic star-reuniting business. Universal City is the name of the 230-acre ranch that housed actors, script writers, musicians, electricians and make-up artists amongst others to produce Laemmle´s film. Visitors were welcome to watch movies being made and inspect the dairy farm at a price of 25 cent.
Furthermore, it was Laemmle who first decided to visually name the actors that starred in the films.
This emphasized the idea of popularity and recognition: the origins of the walk of fame.
Despite the innovation, the company was never at the top of it´s game. It suffered many set backs, in particular, financial crises. Originally Laemmle didn´t like to take on loans and consequently limited his production to small creations. Nonetheless, when Laemmle junior received the control of the business as a 21st birthday present, he decided to modernize drastically and eventually led the company to bankruptcy.
Faced with World War 2 and pressure from the Nazis, the company also had to migrate and change owners.
Actors, Directors and a future film
A grand list of famous actors, actresses and directors has passed through the Hollywood Studio in California: From Valentino, Alfred Hitchcock, Dorris Day and Elisabeth Taylor to Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy and George Clooney. Amongst the directors, we can find E.von Stroheim, Steven Speilberg, J.Ford, W.Wyler and L.Milestone.
The releasing date in France being 11th April 2012, we now eagerly await Big Miracle with Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. Inspired by a true story, it is a story about a campaign to save a family of whales that are trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle.