- This article is about the film studio. For the theme parks, see Universal Parks & Resorts. For other uses, see Universal (disambiguation).
Universal Pictures (also known as Universal Studios) is an American film studio owned by Comcast through the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group division of its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal. Founded in 1912 by Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, and Jules Brulatour, it is the oldest surviving film studio in the United States, the world's fifth oldest after Gaumont, Pathé, Titanus, and Nordisk Film, and the oldest member of Hollywood's "Big Six" studios in terms of the overall film market. Its studios are located in Universal City, California, and its corporate offices are located in New York City. Films produced by Universal Animation Studios, Illumination and DreamWorks Animation are also released under this brand.
Fifteen of Universal's films—Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Computeropolis 2 (2007), Despicable Me 2 (2013), Gabriel Garza 2 (2014), Paradoria (2015), Furious 7 (2015), Jurassic World (2015), Minions (2015), Imagimals (2016), The Fate of the Furious (2017), Despicable Me 3 (2017), Computeropolis: The Deep Web (2018), and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)—have achieved box office records, with the first three, directed by Steven Spielberg, all becoming the highest-grossing film of all time upon its initial release.
Universal Pictures is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and was one of the "Little Three" majors during Hollywood's golden age.
1909–27: Early years
Universal Studios was founded by Carl Laemmle, Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, and Jules Brulatour. One story has Laemmle watching a box office for hours, counting patrons, and calculating the day's takings. Within weeks of his Chicago trip, Laemmle gave up dry goods to buy the first several nickelodeons. For Laemmle and other such entrepreneurs, the creation of the Edison-backed Motion Picture Trust in 1908 meant exhibitors were expected to pay fees for Trust-produced films they showed. Based on the Latham Loop used in cameras and projectors,along with other patents, the Trust collected fees on all aspects of movie production and exhibition and attempted to enforce a monopoly on distribution.
Soon, Laemmle and other disgruntled nickelodeon owners decided to avoid paying Edison by producing their own pictures. In June 1909, Laemmle started the Yankee Film Company with partners Abe Stern and Julius Stern. The company quickly evolved into the Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP), with studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many early films in America's first motion picture industry were produced in the early 20th century. Laemmle broke with Edison's custom of refusing to give billing and screen credits to performers. By naming the stars of films, he attracted many of the leading players of the time, contributing to the creation of the "star system". In 1910, he promoted Florence Lawrence, formerly known as "The Biograph Girl", and actor King Baggot in what may be the first instance of a studio using stars in its marketing.
The Universal Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Laemmle, who emerged as president in July 1912, was the primary figure in the partnership, with Dintenfass, Baumann, Kessel, Powers, Swanson, Horsley, and Brulatour; eventually all would be bought out by Laemmle. The new Universal studio was a vertically integrated company, with film production, distribution, and exhibition venues all linked in the same corporate entity, the central element of the Studio system era. Following the westward trend of the industry, by the end of 1912, the company was focusing its production efforts in the Hollywood area.
On March 15, 1915, Laemmle opened Universal City Studios, the world's largest motion picture production facility, on a 230-acre (0.9-km²) converted farm just over the Cahuenga Pass from Hollywood. Studio management became the third facet of Universal's operations, with the studio incorporated as a distinct subsidiary organization. Unlike other film moguls, Laemmle opened his studio to tourists, and as a result, Universal became the largest studio in Hollywood, and remained so for a decade. However, it sought an audience mostly in small towns, producing mostly inexpensive melodramas, westerns, and serials.
In its early years, Universal released three brands of feature films: Red Feather, low-budget programmers; Bluebird, more ambitious productions; and Jewel, their prestige motion pictures. Directors included Jack Conway, John Ford, Rex Ingram, Robert Z. Leonard, George Marshall, and Lois Weber, one of the few women directing films in Hollywood.
Despite Laemmle's role as an innovator, he was an extremely cautious studio chief. Unlike his rivals Adolph Zukor, William Fox, and Marcus Loew, Laemmle chose not to develop a theater chain and financed all of his own films, refusing to take on debt. This policy nearly bankrupted the studio when actor and director Erich von Stroheim insisted on excessively lavish production values for his films Blind Husbands (1919) and Foolish Wives (1922). However, Universal shrewdly gained a return on some of the expenditure by launching a sensational ad campaign that attracted moviegoers. Actor Lon Chaney became a drawing card for Universal in the 1920s, appearing steadily in dramas; his two biggest hits for Universal were The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
During this period, Laemmle entrusted most of the production policy decisions to Irving Thalberg, who had been his personal secretary. Laemmle was impressed by his cogent observations of how efficiently the studio could be operated. Promoted to studio chief, Thalberg was giving Universal's product a touch of class, but MGM's head of production Louis B. Mayer lured Thalberg away from Universal with a promise of better pay. Without his guidance Universal became a second-tier studio, and would remain so for several decades.
In 1926, Universal opened a production unit in Germany named Deutsche Universal-Film AG under the direction of Joe Pasternak. This unit produced three to four films per year until 1936, migrating to Hungary and then Austria in the face of Hitler's increasing domination of central Europe. With the advent of sound, these productions were made in the German language, or occasionally Hungarian or Polish. In the US, Universal did not distribute any of this subsidiary's films, but some of them were exhibited through other independent foreign-language film distributors based in New York without benefit of English subtitles. Nazi persecution and a change in ownership for the parent Universal Pictures organization resulted in the dissolution of this subsidiary.
In the early years, Universal had a "clean picture" policy. However, by April 1927, Carl Laemmle considered this to be a mistake, as "unclean pictures" from other studios were generating more profit while Universal was losing money.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Universal owned the rights to the "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" character, although Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks had created him, and their films had enjoyed a successful theatrical run. After Charles Mintz unsuccessfully demanded Disney accept a lower fee for producing the property, Mintz produced the films with his own group of animators. Instead, Disney and Iwerks created Mickey Mouse, who, in 1928, starred in the first "sync" sound animated short Steamboat Willie. This moment effectively launched Walt Disney Studios' foothold, while Universal became a minor player in film animation; Universal subsequently severed its link to Mintz and formed its own in-house animation studio to produce Oswald cartoons headed by Walter Lantz.
In 2006, after almost 80 years, NBCUniversal sold all Disney-produced Oswald cartoons along with the rights to the character himself back to Disney. In return, Disney released sportscaster Al Michaels from his contract on ABC so he could work on NBC's NFL Sunday Night Football telecast. However, Universal retained ownership of Oswald cartoons produced for them by Walter Lantz from 1929 to 1943.
1928–36: Keeping leadership of the studio in the family
In 1928, Laemmle, Sr. made his son Carl, Jr. head of Universal as a 21st birthday present. Universal already had a reputation for nepotism; at one time, 70 of Carl, Sr.'s relatives were supposedly on the payroll. Many of them were nephews, resulting in Carl, Sr. being known around the studios as "Uncle Carl". Ogden Nash famously quipped in rhyme, "Uncle Carl Laemmle/Has a very large faemmle". Among these relatives was future Academy Award-winning director/producer William Wyler.
"Junior" Laemmle persuaded his father to bring Universal up to date; he bought and built theaters, converted the studio to sound production, and made several forays into high-quality production. His early efforts included the critically panned part-talkie adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel Show Boat (1929), the lavish musical Broadway (1929), which included Technicolorsequences and was the first musical feature presented in color for Universal), and King of Jazz (1930); the more serious All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) won its year's Best Picture Oscar.
Laemmle, Jr. created a niche for the studio, beginning a series of horror films which extended into the 1940s, affectionately dubbed "Universal Horror". Among them were Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Invisible Man (1933); other Laemmle productions of this period included Imitation of Life (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936).
1936–43: The Laemmles lose control
Universal's forays into high-quality production spelled the end of the Laemmle era at the studio. Taking on the task of modernizing and upgrading a film conglomerate in the depths of the depression was risky, and for a time, Universal slipped into receivership. The theater chain was scrapped, but Carl, Jr. held fast to distribution, studio, and production operations.
The end for the Laemmles came with a lavish version of Show Boat (1936), a remake of its earlier 1929 part-talkie adaptation which was produced as a high-quality, big-budget film rather than a B-picture. The new film featured several stars from the Broadway stage version, which began production in late 1935, and unlike the 1929 film, it was based on the Broadway musical rather than the novel.
Carl, Jr.'s spending habits alarmed company stockholders; they would not allow production to start on Show Boat unless the Laemmles obtained a loan. Universal was thus forced to seek a $750,000 production loan from the Standard Capital Corporation, pledging the Laemmle family's controlling interest in Universal as collateral; it was the first time Universal had borrowed money for a production in its history. The production went $300,000 over budget; Standard called in the loan, cash-strapped Universal could not pay, and Standard foreclosed and seized control of the studio on April 2, 1936.
Although Universal's Show Boat (released a little over a month later) became a critical and financial success, it was not enough to save the Laemmles' involvement with the studio, and they were unceremoniously removed from the company they had founded. Because the Laemmles personally oversaw production, Show Boat was released (despite the takeover) with Carl Laemmle and Carl Laemmle Jr.'s names on the credits and in the advertising campaign of the film. Standard Capital's J. Cheever Cowdin had taken over as president and chairman of the board of directors, and instituted severe cuts in production budgets. Gone were the big ambitions, and though Universal had a few big names under contract, those it had been cultivating such as William Wyler and Margaret Sullavan left.
Meanwhile, producer Joe Pasternak, who had been successfully producing light musicals with young sopranos for Universal's German subsidiary, repeated his formula in America. Teenage singer Deanna Durbin starred in Pasternak's first American film Three Smart Girls (1936). The film was a box office hit, and reputedly resolved the studio's financial problems; its success led Universal to offer her a contract, which, for the first five years of her career, produced her most successful films.
When Pasternak stopped producing Durbin's pictures and she outgrew her screen persona and pursued more dramatic roles, the studio signed 13-year-old Gloria Jean for her own series of Pasternak musicals from 1939; she went on to star with Bing Crosby, W. C. Fields, and Donald O'Connor. A popular Universal film of the late 1930s was Destry Rides Again (1939), starring James Stewart as Destry and Marlene Dietrich in her comeback role after leaving Paramount Pictures.
By the early 1940s, Universal was concentrating on lower-budget productions that were the company's main staple: westerns, melodramas, serials, and sequels to the studio's horror pictures, the latter now solely B-movies. The studio fostered many series, such as The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys action features and serials (1938–43); the comic adventures of infant Baby Sandy (1938–41); comedies with Hugh Herbert (1938–42) and The Ritz Brothers (1940–43); musicals with Robert Paige, Jane Frazee, The Andrews Sisters, and The Merry Macs (1938–45); and westerns with Tom Mix (1932–33), Buck Jones (1933–36), Bob Baker (1938–39), Johnny Mack Brown (1938–43); Rod Cameron(1944–45), and Kirby Grant (1946–47).
Universal could seldom afford its own stable of stars, and often borrowed talent from other studios or hired freelance actors. In addition to Stewart and Dietrich, Margaret Sullavan and Bing Crosby were two of the major names who produced pictures for Universal during this period. Some stars came from radio, including Edgar Bergen, W. C. Fields, and the comedy team of Abbott and Costello, whose military comedy Buck Privates (1941) gave the former burlesque comedians a national and international profile.
During the years of World War II, Universal had a co-production arrangement with producer Walter Wanger and his partner, director Fritz Lang, lending the studio some amount of prestige productions. Universal's core audience base was still found in neighborhood movie theaters, and the studio continued to please the public with low to medium-budget films; these included Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in new Sherlock Holmes mysteries (1942–46), teenage musicals with Gloria Jean, Donald O'Connor, and Peggy Ryan (1942–43), and screen adaptations of radio's Inner Sanctum Mysteries with Lon Chaney, Jr. (1943–45). Alfred Hitchcock was also borrowed for two films from Selznick International Pictures: Saboteur (1942) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943).
As Universal's main products had always been low-budget films, it was one of the last major studios to have a contract with Technicolor. The studio did not make use of the three-strip Technicolor process until Arabian Nights (1942), starring Jon Hall and Maria Montez. The following year, Technicolor was also used in Universal's remake of their 1925 horror melodrama Phantom of the Opera, with Claude Rains and Nelson Eddy. With the success of their first two pictures, a regular schedule of high-budget Technicolor films followed.
1945–52: Universal-International and Decca Records takes control
In 1945, British entrepreneur J. Arthur Rank, hoping to expand his American presence, bought into a four-way merger with Universal, the independent company International Pictures, and producer Kenneth Young. The new combine, dubbed United World Pictures, was a failure and was dissolved within one year. Rank and International remained interested in Universal, however, culminating in the studio's reorganization as Universal-International. International co-founder William Goetz was made head of production at the renamed Universal-International Pictures Inc., which also served as an import-export subsidiary and copyright holder for the production arm's films. Goetz, a son-in-law of Louis B. Mayer, decided to bring "prestige" to the new company, and stopped its low-budget production of B-movies and serials, and curtailed Universal's horror and Arabian Nights cycles. Distribution and copyright control remained under the name of Universal Pictures Company Inc..
Goetz set out an ambitious schedule and Universal-International became responsible for the American distribution of Rank's British productions, including such classics as David Lean's Great Expectations (1946) and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948). Broadening its scope further, Universal-International branched out into the lucrative non-theatrical field, buying a majority stake in home movie dealer Castle Films in 1947 and taking the company over entirely in 1951. For three decades, Castle would offer "highlights" reels from the Universal film library to home movie enthusiasts and collectors. Goetz licensed Universal's pre-International film library to Jack Broeder's Realart Pictures for cinema re-release, but Realart was not allowed to show the films on television.
The production arm of the studio still struggled; while there were to be a few hits such as The Killers (1946) and The Naked City (1948), Universal-International's new theatrical films often met with disappointing response at the box office. By the late 1940s, Goetz was out and the studio returned to low-budget films. The inexpensive Francis (1950), the first film of a series about a talking mule, and Ma and Pa Kettle (1949), also part of a series, became mainstays of the company. Once again, the films of Abbott and Costello, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), were among the studio's top-grossing productions. However, at this point, Rank lost interest and sold his shares to the investor Milton Rackmil, whose Decca Records label would take full control of Universal in 1952. Besides Abbott and Costello, the studio retained the Walter Lantz cartoon studio, whose product was released with Universal-International's films.
In the 1950s, Universal-International resumed their series of Arabian Nights films, many of which starring Tony Curtis. The studio also had a success with monster and science fiction films produced by William Alland, with many directed by Jack Arnold. Other successes were melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk and produced by Ross Hunter, although for critics, they were not so well thought of on first release as they have since become. Among Universal-International's stable of stars were Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Jeff Chandler, Audie Murphy, and John Gavin.
Although Decca would continue to keep picture budgets lean, it was favored by changing circumstances in the film business, as other studios let their contract actors go in the wake of the 1948 U.S. vs. Paramount Pictures, et al. decision. Leading actors were increasingly free to work where and when they chose, and in 1950, MCA agent Lew Wasserman made a deal with Universal for his client James Stewart that would change the rules of the business. Wasserman's deal gave Stewart a share in the profits of three pictures in lieu of a large salary. When one of those films titled Winchester '73 proved to be a hit, the arrangement would become the rule for many future productions at Universal and eventually at other studios as well.
1958–89: MCA takes over
In the early 1950s, Universal set up its own distribution company in France, and in the late 1960s, it also started a production company in Paris named Universal Productions France S.A., although sometimes credited by the distribution company's name Universal Pictures France. Except for its first two films, which were Claude Chabrol's Le scandale and Romain Gary's Les oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou, it was only involved in French or other European co-productions, the most noticeable of which being Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien, Bertrand Blier's Les Valseuses, and Fred Zinnemann's The Day of the Jackal; it was only involved in approximately twenty French productions. In the early 1970s, the unit was incorporated into the French Cinema International Corporation arm.
By the late 1950s, the motion picture business was again changing; the combination of the studio/theater chain breakup and the rise of television saw the reduced audience size for cinema productions. The Music Corporation of America (MCA), the world's largest talent agency, had also become a powerful television producer, renting space at Republic Studios for its Revue Productions subsidiary. After a period of complete shutdown, a moribund Universal agreed to sell its 360-acre (1.5 km) studio lot to MCA in 1958 for $11 million, which was later renamed Revue Studios. MCA owned the studio lot, but not Universal, yet it was increasingly influential on Universal's product. The lot was upgraded and modernized, while MCA clients such as Doris Day, Lana Turner, Cary Grant, and director Alfred Hitchcock were signed to Universal contracts.
The long-awaited takeover of Universal Pictures by MCA was completed in 1962 as part of the MCA and Decca Records merger, and the studio reverted its name to Universal Pictures. As a final gesture before leaving the talent agency business, virtually every MCA client was signed to a Universal contract. In 1964, MCA formed Universal City Studios, Inc., merging the motion picture and television arms of Universal Pictures Company and Revue Productions (officially renamed as Universal Television in 1966). With MCA in charge, Universal became an official A-film movie studio, with leading actors and directors under contract; it began offering slick, commercial films, and a studio tour subsidiary launched in 1964.
Television production made up much of the studio's output, with Universal heavily committed in particular to deals with NBC (which later merged with Universal to form NBCUniversal) providing up to half of all primetime shows for several seasons; an innovation during this period championed by Universal was the made-for-television film. In 1982, Universal became the studio base for many shows produced by Norman Lear's Tandem Productions/Embassy Television, including Diff'rent Strokes, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, and Silver Spoons, which premiered on NBC that same fall.
At this time, Hal B. Wallis, who had latterly worked as a major producer at Paramount, moved over to Universal, where he produced several films, among them a lavish version of Maxwell Anderson's Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), and the equally lavish Mary, Queen of Scots (1971). Although neither could claim to be a big financial hit, both received Academy Award nominations, and Anne was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Richard Burton), Best Actress (Geneviève Bujold), and Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Quayle). Wallis retired from Universal after producing Rooster Cogburn (1975), a sequel to True Grit(1969), which Wallis had produced at Paramount; Rooster Cogburn co-starred John Wayne, reprising his Oscar-winning role from the earlier film, and Katharine Hepburn, their only film together, and the film was only a moderate success.
In the early 1970s, Universal teamed up with Paramount to form Cinema International Corporation, which distributed films by Paramount and Universal outside North America. Although Universal did produce occasional hits such as Airport (1970), The Sting (1973), American Graffiti (1973), Earthquake (1974), Jaws (1975), the latter of which became a huge box office success which restored the company's fortunes, during the 1970s, Universal was primarily a television studio. When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased United Artists in 1981, MGM could not drop out of the CIC venture to merge with United Artists overseas operations. However, with future productions from both names being released through the MGM/UA Entertainment plate, CIC decided to merge UA's international units with MGM, and it was reformed as United International Pictures. There would be other massive hits such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Back to the Future (1985), Field of Dreams (1989), and Jurassic Park (1993), but the film business was financially unpredictable.
UIP began distributing films by newcomer studio DreamWorks Pictures in 1997 due to connections the founders had with Paramount, Universal, and Amblin Entertainment. In 2001, MGM dropped out of the UIP venture and went with 20th Century Fox's international arm to handle distribution of their titles to this day.
1990–2009: Matsushita, Seagram, Vivendi, and NBCUniversal
Anxious to expand the company's broadcast and cable presence, longtime MCA head Lew Wasserman sought a rich partner. He located Japanese electronics manufacturer Matsushita Electric (now known as Panasonic), which agreed to acquire MCA for $6.6 billion in 1990. Matsushita provided a cash infusion, but the clash of cultures was too great to overcome, and five years later, Matsushita sold an 80% stake in MCA/Universal to Canadian drink distributor Seagram for $5.7 billion. Seagram sold off its stake in DuPont to fund this expansion into the entertainment industry. Hoping to build an entertainment empire around Universal, Seagram bought PolyGram and other entertainment properties in 1999, but the fluctuating profits characteristic of Hollywood were no substitute for the reliable income stream gained from its previously held shares in DuPont.
To raise money, Seagram head Edgar Bronfman Jr. sold Universal's television holdings including cable network USA to Barry Diller; these same properties would be bought back later at greatly inflated prices. In June 2000, Seagram was sold to French water utility and media company Vivendi, which owned StudioCanal; the conglomerate then became known as Vivendi Universal. Afterward, Universal Pictures acquired US distribution rights to several of StudioCanal's films, such as Mulholland Drive (which received an Oscar nomination) and Brotherhood of the Wolf (which became the second-highest-grossing French-language film in the United States since 1980); Universal and StudioCanal also co-produced several films, such as Love Actually (an $40 million budget film that eventually grossed $246 million worldwide). In late 2000, the New York Film Academy was permitted to use the Universal Studios backlot for student film projects in an unofficial partnership.
Burdened with debt, in 2004, Vivendi Universal sold 80% of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (including the studio and theme parks) to General Electric, the parent of NBC. The resulting media conglomerate was renamed as NBCUniversal, while Universal Studios Inc. remained the name of the production subsidiary. After that deal, GE owned 80% of NBC Universal, and Vivendi held the remaining 20%, with an option to sell its share in 2006.
In late 2005, Viacom's Paramount Pictures acquired DreamWorks Pictures after acquisition talks between GE and DreamWorks stalled. Universal's longtime chairwoman Stacey Snider left the company in early 2006 to head up DreamWorks as a result. Snider was replaced by then-Vice Chairman Marc Shmuger and Focus Features head David Linde. On October 5, 2009, Marc Shmuger and David Linde were ousted, and their co-chairman jobs consolidated, under former president of worldwide marketing and distribution Adam Fogelson becoming the single chairperson. Donna Langley was also upped to co-chairperson. In 2009, Stephanie Sperber founded Universal Partnerships & Licensing to license consumer products for Universal.
GE purchased Vivendi's share of NBCUniversal in 2011.
2011–present: Comcast era
GE sold 51% of the company to cable provider Comcast in 2011, who merged the former GE subsidiary with its own cable television programming assets, creating the current NBCUniversal. Following approval by the Federal Communications Commission, the Comcast-GE deal was closed on January 29, 2011. In March 2013, Comcast bought the remaining 49% of NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion.
In September 2013, Adam Fogelson was ousted as co-chairman of Universal Pictures, promoting Donna Langley to chairwoman. In addition, NBCUniversal International Chairman Jeff Shell would be appointed as Chairman of the newly created Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. Longtime studio head Ron Meyer would give up oversight of the studio and was appointed Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal, providing consultation to CEO Steve Burke on all of the company's operations; Meyers still retains oversight of Universal Parks and Resorts.
Universal's multi-year financing deal with Elliott Management expired in 2013. In summer 2013, Universal made an agreement with Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures to distribute their films for five years starting in 2014, shortly after Legendary's similar agreement with Warner Bros. ended. In June 2014, Universal Partnerships took over licensing consumer products for NBC and Sprout, with expectation of all licensing eventually being centralized within NBCUniversal. On December 16, 2015, Amblin Partners announced it had entered into a five-year distribution deal with Universal Pictures, meaning its films would be distributed and marketed by either Universal or Focus Features. It is unknown whether Focus subsidiaries Gramercy Pictures and Focus World will distribute any films in the deal.
In early 2016, Perfect World Pictures announced a long-term co-financing deal with Universal, marking the first time a Chinese company has directly invested in a multi-year slate deal with a major American studio.
On April 28, 2016, NBCUniversal announced a $3.8 billion deal to acquire DreamWorks Animation, which was later completed on August 22, 2016. Universal will take over the distribution deal with DreamWorks starting in 2019 with the release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, after DreamWorks Animation's distribution deal with 20th Century Fox ends.
On February 15, 2017, Universal Pictures acquired a minority stake in Amblin Partners, strengthening the relationship between Universal and Amblin and reuniting a minority percentage of the DreamWorks Pictures label with DreamWorks Animation.
- Universal Television
- Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
- Universal 1440 Entertainment
- Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia (JV)
- Focus Features
- NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan
- Working Title Films
- Universal Animation Studios
- DreamWorks Animation
- United International Pictures (JV)
- Amblin Partners (minor stake) (JV)
- Main article: List of Universal Pictures films
|Universal Monsters/Dark Universe||1931–1954; 2014; 2017||co-production with Legendary Entertainment and K/O Paper Products|
|Woody Woodpecker||1941–1972||co-production with Walter Lantz Studios and Universal Animation Studios|
|Psycho||1960–1998||co-production with Paramount Pictures|
|The Blues Brothers||1980–1998||co-production with SNL Studios|
|Halloween||1981–1982, 2018-TBA||co-production with Compass International, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 20th Century Fox, Dimension Films, Miramax, The Weinstein Company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Blumhouse Productions|
|Conan the Barbarian||1982–1984; TBA||co-production with Lionsgate|
|The Thing||1982–2011||co-production with Morgan Creek Productions and Strike Entertainment|
|Back to the Future||1985–1990||co-production with Amblin Entertainment|
|An American Tail||1986–1999||co-production with Amblin Entertainment and Sullivan Bluth Studios|
|The Land Before Time||1988–2016||co-production with Amblin Entertainment, Lucasfilm and Sullivan Bluth Studios.|
|Child's Play||1988–present||co-production with Rogue Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and United Artists|
|Darkman||1990–1996||co-production with Renaissance Pictures|
|Gabriel Garza||1991–2002; 2011–present||co-production with Universal Television Animation, Universal Animation Studios and Gingo Animation|
|Jurassic Park||1993–present||co-production with Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, and The Kennedy/Marshall Company|
|The Flintstones||1994–2000||co-production with Hanna-Barbera & Amblin Entertainment|
|Timecop||1994–2003||co-production with Renaissance Pictures|
|Balto||1995–2007||co-production with Amblin Entertainment|
|Casper||1995–2000; 2016-present||co-production with Amblin Entertainment, Harvey Films, Saban Ltd., 20th Century Fox, and DreamWorks Classics|
|Hatty||1996–2002; 2015–present||co-production with Universal Television Animation and Gingo Animation|
|Mr. Bean||1997–2007||co-production with PolyGram Films, Gramercy Pictures, Working Title Films, StudioCanal, and Tiger Aspect Productions|
|The Prince of Egypt||1998–2000||co-production with DreamWorks Animation|
|The Mummy||1999–2008; 2017; TBA||co-production with Relativity Media, Sommers Company and Alphaville Films.|
|Paint World||1999; 2019–TBA||co-production with Universal Animation Studios and Gingo Animation|
|Dr. Seuss films||2000–present||co-production with Imagine Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures, and Illumination Entertainment|
|Bring It On||co-production with Strike Entertainment|
|Riddick||2000–2013||co-production with Gramercy Pictures, USA Films, Original Film, and Relativity Media|
|Meet the Parents||2000–2010||co-production with DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures and TriBeCa Productions|
|Hannibal Lecter||2001–2002||co-production with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Orion Pictures, Scott Free Productions, The Weinstein Company, and De Laurentiis Entertainment Group|
|The Fast and the Furious||2001–present||co-production with Original Film, Relativity Media and One Race Films.|
|Shrek||co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images, DreamWorks, and Paramount Pictures|
|Bourne||2002–present||co-production with The Kennedy/Marshall Company and Relativity Media.|
|The Scorpion King||2002–2011||co-production with Alphaville and WWE Studios|
|Johnny English||2003–2018||co-production with Working Title Films, StudioCanal, and Tiger Aspect Productions|
|Hulk||2003–2008; TBA||co-production with Marvel Studios; right of first refusal to distribute future films|
|Almighty||2003–2007||co-production with Spyglass Entertainment, Shady Acres Entertainment, and Original Film|
|Tony Tom-Tom's Delivery Service||co-production with DJW Studios|
|Computeropolis||2004–present||co-production with Universal Animation Studios|
|Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy||2004–2013||co-production with Rogue Pictures, Focus Features, Working Title Films, and StudioCanal|
|...of the Dead||2004–2005||co-production with Atmosphere Entertainment, Romero/Grunwald Films, Cruel and Unusual Films, and Strike Entertainment|
|White Noise||2005–present||co-production with Gold Circle Films|
|Madagascar||co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images, DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox|
|Nanny McPhee||2005–2010||co-production with Working Title Films|
|Curious George||2006–2009||co-production with Universal Animation Studios and Imagine Entertainment|
|Smokin' Aces||2007–present||co-production with Relativity Media|
|Kung Fu Panda||2008–present||co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pearl Studio, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox|
|Marvel Cinematic Universe||2008; TBA||Hulk films only; co-production with Marvel Studios|
|Hellboy||2008||co-production with Dark Horse Entertainment, Revolution Studios, Relativity Media, Mosaic Film Group, and Columbia Pictures|
|Death Race||2008–present||co-production with New Horizons, Cruise/Wagner Productions, and Relativity Media|
|The Strangers||co-production with Intrepid Pictures, Relativity Media, and Rogue Pictures|
|Monsters vs. Aliens||2009–2014||co-production with DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures|
|How to Train Your Dragon||2010–present||co-production with DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox|
|Despicable Me||co-production with Illumination Entertainment|
|Defender D||2011–2017||co-production with DJW Studios|
|Puss in Boots||2011–present||co-production with DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures|
|Ted||2012–2015||co-production with Media Rights Capital and Fuzzy Door Productions|
|The Man with...||2012–present||co-production with Strike Entertainment and Bluegrass Films|
|Pitch Perfect||2012–2017||co-production with Gold Circle Films|
|The Purge||2013–present||co-production with Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes|
|The Croods||co-production with DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox|
|Ride Along||2014–2016||co-production with Relativity Media and Perfect World Pictures|
|Dumb and Dumber||2014–present||co-production with New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Red Granite Pictures|
|Ouija||co-production with Blumhouse Productions, Hasbro Studios, and Platinum Dunes|
|Neighbors||co-production with Point Grey, Relativity Media, and Good Universe|
|Fifty Shades||2015–2018||co-production with Focus Features, Michael De Luca Productions, and Trigger Street Productions|
|Paradoria||2015–present||co-production with Universal Animation Studios|
|Unfriended||co-production with Blumhouse Productions and Bazelevs Company|
|Minions||co-production with Illumination Entertainment|
|Luna & Zak||co-production with Universal Animation Studios|
|The Secret Life of Pets||2016–present||co-production with Illumination Entertainment|
|Imagimals||co-production with Universal Animation Studios and Gingo Animation|
|Trolls||co-production with DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox|
|Sing||co-production with Illumination Entertainment|
|The Boss Baby||2017–present||co-production with DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox|
|Lix||co-production with Universal Animation Studios|
|Insidious||2018; TBA||co-production with FilmDistrict, Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures, IM Global, Alliance Films, Stage 6 Films, Entertainment One, and Blumhouse Productions|
|Pacific Rim||co-production with Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.|
|James Bond||2020||co-production with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer|
(Bond 25; one-film contract)
|2||E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ‡||1982||$435,110,554|
|3||Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom||2018||$416,376,615|
|5||Jurassic Park ‡||1993||$402,453,882|
|6||The Secret Life of Pets||2016||$368,362,470|
|7||Despicable Me 2||2013||$368,061,265|
|11||Meet the Fockers||2004||$279,261,160|
|3||The Fate of the Furious||2017||$1,238,764,765|
|5||Despicable Me 3||2017||$1,033,508,147|
|7||Jurassic Park ‡||1993||$1,029,153,882|
|9||Despicable Me 2||2013||$970,761,885|
|11||Gabriel Garza 2||2014||$895,664,915|
|12||The Secret Life of Pets||2016||$875,457,937|
|14||Gabriel Garza 3||2017||$812,023,718|
|15||E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ‡||1982||$792,910,554|
|16||Fast & Furious 6||2013||$788,679,850|
|22||Luna & Zak||2015||$624,953,446|
|23||The Lost World: Jurassic Park||1997||$618,638,999|
|25||Fifty Shades of Grey||2015||$571,006,128|
‡—Includes theatrical reissue(s).
- Universal Filmed Entertainment Group
- List of Universal Pictures films
- List of Universal Pictures theatrical animated features
- List of animation studios owned by NBCUniversal
- Universal Pictures/Other
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