American International Pictures

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Background

American International Pictures was formed in 1954 by James H. Nicholson and entertainment lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff originally as "American Releasing Corporation", dedicated to releasing independently produced, low-budget and genre films (such as horror, sci-fi, and African-American), primarily of interest to the teenagers from the 1950s to late 1970s. In April 1956, ARC merged with global production company International Productions (not to be confused with "International Pictures", who already merged with Universal Pictures and formed "Universal-International" in 1946) to form AIP. In 1979, AIP was acquired by Filmways, Inc. for $4.3 million, and in 1980, AIP was folded into Filmways becoming "Filmways Pictures". Today, most of the AIP library is owned by MGM, via their acquisition of Orion Pictures, which acquired Filmways in 1982 (later reincorporated itself as "Orion Pictures Corporation" in June), except for a select few of AIP's early releases. Some of these (like The Fast and the Furious) went into the public domain, and some were retained by Samuel Z. Arkoff's estate, while 11 others were retained by James H. Nicholson's estate; these early releases are rarely seen now, as the estate effectively refuses to license them, but when they were still available in the early 1990s (and were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000), they, along with the still-available Arkoff-owned films (currently licensed to AMC and Lionsgate for distribution), were distributed by Teleworld, Inc.

On October 7, 2020, MGM announced that they would bring back AIP to distribute films that would get a limited release in cinemas. Their first film after being revived was Breaking News in Yuba County, released on February 12, 2021.



1st Logo (July 15, 1956-August 31, 1960)


Visuals: On a cloudy background, an double-layered ellipse frame appears and zooms in, taking up almost the whole screen when it stops. In it, a detailed and heavily shaded picture of the Capitol dome, rising above what appears to be a cloud cover, is seen poking out of the top. Below it, the following text is seen:

AMERICAN
International
PICTURES

The first letter in "AMERICAN International" are larger than the rest of the text, and "International" itself is in script.

Variants:

  • Sometimes, the logo would instead be chroma-keyed into the background, notable by the rather hollow-looking drawing of the Capitol.
  • A "color" version exists where the entire logo is tinted in one color.
  • Another colored version has the logo zoom in on a multicolored cloud background scrolling to the right.
  • An in-credit version exists.

Technique: Basic editing effects.

Audio:

  • 1956-1957: The same trumpet fanfare from the 3rd ARC logo.
  • 1958-1960: A patriotic fanfare.

Audio Variant: Sometimes, it's the opening theme of the movie.

Availability: Seen on films of the era such as Earth Vs. The Spider and A Bucket of Blood. Also appears on most of the Censored Eleven (referring here to the Nicholson-owned early AIP features), including The Amazing Colossal Man, It Conquered the World, and I Was a Teenage Werewolf.

2nd Logo (November 23, 1959)


Visuals: On a white-blue gradient background, a large "A" is seen to the left in a elongated Copperplate Gothic font, colored a reversed blue-white gradient with white shading, as well as a faded red shadow positioned to the right of it. Over it, the text "AMERICAN International PICTURES" fades in over it, with "PICTURES" to the right and beneath "International".

Technique: Fading effects.

Audio: A strong and majestic fanfare, composed by Les Baxter, which starts with a deep trombone and ends with the full orchestra playing.

Availability: Was only seen on The Angry Red Planet.

3rd Logo (June 22, 1960-April 1966)

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Visuals:

  • June 22, 1960-September 25, 1963: On a blue sky background, a different Capitol dome drawing is seen, with the perspective positioned to the right and the "cloud cover" better resembles the main building itself. 2 clouds are also seen behind it. In-between the drawing, "American International" fades in a connected 50's font, which resembles the SF Americana Dreams Extended font, along with "PICTURES" below in small print.
  • December 18, 1963?-April 1966: On a black background, a all-white version of the logo appears and zooms into place. Here, the Capitol drawing is altered heavily to show negative space for lighting, and the clouds are also shown.

Variants:

  • 1960-1963:
    • A black and white variant exists on B&W films like Dementia 13, among many others.
    • A completely still variant of the logo exists on some films like The Haunted Palace, among others. This exists in both color and B&W.
  • 1963-1966:
  • Usually, the logo is still and superimposed into the opening scene of the movie.
  • The color of the logo depends, with yellow and red variants existing. Another version has the logo in orange on a blue background.
  • Sometimes, "An" and "Release" will be seen above and below the logo in the same font as "American International". A registered trademark symbol is also seen to the right.

Technique: Motion-controlled animation.

Audio:

  • 1960-1963: Same as the 2nd logo.
  • 1963-1966: A dramatic trumpet fanfare.
  • Otherwise, the opening theme of the movie or none.

Audio Variant: On The Haunted Palace, a different fanfare, composed by Ronald Stein, can be heard.

Availability:

  • 1960-1963: Seen on horror films such as Dementia 13, The House of Usher, and many others. Appears at the end of The Young Racers.
  • 1963-1966: The zooming variant can be seen on films like The Comedy of Terrors and Die, Monster, Die!, while the superimposed variant is seen on the Beach Blanket films and horror films such as Count Yorga.

4th Logo (April 1966-July 21, 1968)


Visuals: On a evening sky background, a light blue circle appears and zooms out into the middle of the screen. When it stops, the saturated Capitol drawing from before in a gold color fades inside the circle, followed by the text "American International" appears in-between the circle, now in a fancy serif font.

Variants:

  • Sometimes, the logo is superimposed into the opening credits of any given film, animation and all, usually in a solid color.
  • The text and logo may be in white instead.

Technique: 2D animation.

Audio: A bombastic jingle accompanied with flute and orchestra.

Audio Variant: Sometimes, it is silent or (on some films, such as The Trip) has the opening theme.

Availability: Still intact on TV airings and DVD releases of films such as The Trip, The Wild Angels, and others. Also intact on the MEDA VHS and Betamax and Image DVD release of the Woody Allen comedy edit of International Secret Police: Key of Keys titled What's Up, Tiger Lilly?

5th Logo (May 29, 1968-April 28, 1971)


Visuals: On a black background, a large dark grey circle fades into view, taking up the entire height of the screen. It then fades to pink, followed by gold, along with revealing a heavily simplified version of the Capitol building drawing inside of it. The circle then fades to red and flies to the top right of the screen, changing colors twice more (first to dark blue, and then to white with a red drawing), with pieces of an abstract "a" in white fading in piece by piece. Once its all completed, the text "American International Pictures" fades in below.

Trivia: The logo was designed by Sandy Dvore, who also created the 1st Lorimar Television logo, the 8th United Artists logo, and the Picturemaker Productions logo.

Variants:

  • Sometimes, the logo is superimposed into the opening credits of any given film.
  • At the end of films, the logo, now still, is shown with the Capitol building drawing in black, and the text reading "an American International Picture". The arrangement varies.
  • A still version has the logo positioned to the left, the Capitol circle inverted in colors, and the "American International Pictures" text stacked to the right.

Technique: Camera controlled and cel animation.

Audio: A loud, battling horn with a flute and drum/timpani fanfare.

Audio Variants:

  • Sometimes, it is silent or has the films opening theme.
  • On recent prints of Scream and Scream Again (1970) such as on TCM and on a February 22, 2023 UK airing on Talking Pictures UK, this has the 1997 Orion Pictures logo theme, due to a sloppy reverse plastering error.

Availability: Still intact on films such as Bucket of Blood and The Dunwich Horror, usually with the 1997 Orion Pictures logo and/or the MGM lion preceding it. The still version can be found on the DVD releases of The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant and The Abominable Mr. Phibes.

6th Logo (July 22, 1970)


Visuals: On a black background, the "a" is seen taking up the entire screen, with the Capitol circle being the hollow version. It shrinks and moves down to the bottom of the screen, and "merican International Productions" slides in to the right, pushing the logo to the left as it does. The final result resembles "american International Pictures".

Technique: Camera-controlled animation.

Audio: None.

Availability: It only appears on the movie Cry of the Banshee, right after the MGM and/or Orion logos.

7th Logo (May 18, 1971-May 1, 1980)


Visuals: On a time-lapse clip of a cloudy sky moving, a double-layered yellow circle is seen with the "a" logo inside of it, albeit without the Capitol building in it. Below, the text "American International", in the same font as before, fades in below.

Byline: Starting in 1979, a byline reading "A FILMWAYS COMPANY" in the Filmways corporate font fades in below.

Variants:

  • The logo may be seen superimposed into the opening of the movie, or on a black background. The logo may also be seen all in one color and may not have animation.
  • On The Food of the Gods, the background is dark blue.
  • Sometimes, the logo would fade out to make room for "SAMUEL Z. ARKOFF presents".
  • At the end of films, the words "An American International Release" in blue fades in. No logo is seen.
  • Some movies had the text in teal.
  • On Frogs, the whole logo is in blue and lacks a drop shadow.

Technique: Fading effects.

Audio: None.

Audio Variants:

  • Sometimes, the opening theme is used.
  • On C.H.O.M.P.S., it has a majestic fanfare.
  • On the MGM DVD of Bucktown (1975), it uses the last half of the 1997 Orion Pictures theme, even though the latter logo precedes the AIP logo. This is one of the strangest editing errors ever known.
  • On the separate PAL DVD releases of The Evictors (which is available as a bonus movie on the Shout! Factory DVD release of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which has the regular version instead), the logo is heard with the 1995 MGM lion roar that coincides with "The Roaring Paramount Mountain" on a foreign TV airing of Braddock: Missing in Action II, as well as the Universal Pictures variant on select foreign prints of Conan The Destroyer and Firestarter.

Availability:

  • Seen on most AIP films from the era, usually proceeded with the MGM and/or Orion logo on home video releases such as Black Caesar, Hell Up in Harlem, Truck Turner, Sugar Hill, Coffy, Foxy Brown, etc.
  • However, some DVD releases of movies such as Bucktown, Breaker! Breaker! and Joyride get iffy with the logo.
  • On the early '90s GoodTimes VHS release of Breaker! Breaker!, the logo was replaced with the abridged 1988 Orion Home Video logo, and the DVD print only has the MGM lion at the start of the film.
  • The VHS and DVD releases of Bucktown replace it with the Orion Pictures logo (1982 logo on VHS, 1997 logo on DVD) and the DVD release of Joyride only has the MGM logo.
  • The closing version often had it in the style of the credits, but it's still intact on the DVD releases of Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem, as well as the Goodtimes VHS release of Breaker! Breaker!.
  • As the 1994 Image/Orion Home Video Laserdisc of Meteor uses an international print, the 1984 Warner Bros. Shield of Staleness appears there instead.
  • It also appears at the start of a March 8, 2023 UK airing of The Evictors (1979), following the 2012 MGM logo on Talking Pictures TV as well.

8th Logo (January 14, 2021-)


Visuals: On a black background, a globe of the Earth, with gold continents and black water, appears as an extreme close-up that rotates clockwise as a white light streaks across the edge of the globe. The camera follows the streak until it hits a low point, of which it reveals the "a" from before, albeit with the globe replacing the dot, and the white letters "IP", forming "aIP". It zooms off to the upper left, shining with white lights as the globe continues to rotate. After it almost settles into place, the stacked text "American International Pictures" slides in from the right, the globe stops at the Americas, and the logo settles into place. A MGM byline, with "MGM" in its corporate Metro-Mayer Serif font, appears below in white as the globe shines once more.

Variants:

  • A still version exists, which can be seen at the end of films.
  • On Breaking News in Yuba County, a still 2D version is used with a plain MGM byline.
    • On the trailer of said film, the logo is shown in a dull gold shade and zooms in slowly, shining slightly.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: A soft, descending piano theme.

Availability:

  • It debuted on How It Ends.
  • It made its first non-US appearance on the Brazilian film Duetto, released on September 22, 2022.
American Releasing Corporation
American International Pictures
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