Carolco Pictures

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Carolco Pictures, Inc. was originally formed in 1976 by Mario F. Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna (the latter of whom previously founded Panasia Films in Hong Kong) as "Anabasis Investments" to make a major independent competitor to the Hollywood studios producing A-movie products. In 1984, Anabasis Investments was reincorporated as "Carolco International, N.V." In 1987, Carolco acquired International Video Entertainment ("IVE" or "I'VE", then later known as "LIVE Entertainment", now Artisan Entertainment) but later was forced to sell its shares in 1993 to a group of investors led by Pioneer Electronic Corporation after Carolco restructured. On August 28, 1987, Carolco acquired syndication company Orbis Communications for $15.4 million (Orbis would be merged into Carolco's television unit in 1991). In addition to its own library, Carolco had the television rights to those of The Vista Organization (which it would eventually acquire towards the end of its life), Hemdale Film Corporation, Island Alive, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (except the Embassy library), and Pacific International Enterprises, as well as several HBO movies, among possible others. In 1995, Carolco went bankrupt because of overspending on their films and the disastrous release of Cutthroat Island (not to mention being hurt by them giving up distribution rights to Cliffhanger (by giving TriStar Pictures half of the film's budget), so they could properly fund the film. Despite being successful at the box-office, Carolco saw little profit.), and the company closed soon after. In 1989, Vajna sold his share of Carolco and formed "Cinergi Pictures Entertainment". In 1998, Cinergi shut down. Kassar and Vajna later reinstated their partnership and founded C2 Pictures, which shut down in 2008. On January 21, 2015, it was announced that an independent production company, Brick Top Productions, purchased the Carolco trademarks and operated under the Carolco name, with Mario Kassar as the company's chief development executive.

Today, the ancillary rights to a majority of Carolco's library including the Carolco name and logo are held by the French production company StudioCanal, and because of this, the new Carolco had to change its name to Recall Studios. TV, streaming and digital rights belong to Paramount Pictures through Trifecta Entertainment & Media on Paramount's behalf, due to a previous TV distribution deal with Worldvision Enterprises, and Lionsgate Home Entertainment continues to hold the domestic home video rights (via a new output deal with StudioCanal), while the international home video rights are held by a different company for each country. Exceptions include Cliffhanger, which is distributed in the U.S. and some foreign territories by Sony Pictures Entertainment (due to TriStar being given complete distribution rights in those territories as explained above), Last of the Dogmen, which was originally released by Savoy Pictures and is now owned by the film's producer Joel Michaels, who licensed the film to Kino Lorber for a Blu-Ray release, and Showgirls, which Carolco sold off to Chargeurs during pre-production, and is distributed in North America by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. Carolco did not use a logo until 1985. With select exceptions, theatrical distribution for Carolco films was managed by TriStar Pictures, starting with Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1985 and ending with Wagons East! in 1994. MGM would take the distribution reigns afterwards and released Stargate, Showgirls and Cutthroat Island. MGM also continues to hold the rights to Showgirls (as stated earlier) and the streaming rights to Stargate, the latter of which they also developed into a multimedia franchise since its release.

1st Logo (May 22, 1985-September 4, 1987)

Visuals: Against a starry space background, a blue streak of light zooms out, flashes, and forms a bronze, swirly "C". The process repeats twice, working its way outward, before forming the Carolco logo, which consists of a large, stylized "C" formed by many 3D swirls. Afterwards, the logo shines brightly as the words "CAROLCO" (in the Hanzel font and in silver) shine in underneath. The logo then sparkles.

Variant: A still version exists.

Technique: Computer animation.

Audio: A series of synthesized shining sounds, followed by a nine-note brass tune, a couple of synth blares, and a four-note orchestral tune. This theme was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

Audio Variant: AMC, Paramount+ and Pluto TV's prints of First Blood Part II use the TriStar logo with the Carolco jingle (it was originally silent on the movie), while it is high pitched on AMC.

Audio Trivia: This was also featured of the First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II soundtracks as the thirty-first track and the first track, respectively, as "Carolco Logo". Another track has the slate recording that reveals that the fanfare was made in 75 takes. That version is the twenty-sixth track of the second film's soundtrack as "Carolco Logo (With Slate)".


  • The two films confirmed to have used this logo are Rambo: First Blood Part II and Angel Heart, all on international prints and early home video releases where this is shown cropped to 4:3 from a print matted to widescreen. The original domestic prints of these films began with the TriStar Pictures logo.
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II, from the 1988 IVE release onward (with the exceptions of the 1989 budget-priced IVE release, which uses the next logo, and the 1991 Live Home Video, 1992 Promotional Concept Group, Inc. and 1995 Avid Home Entertainment VHS releases, which retain this logo), updates this with the 3rd logo.
  • On HBO prints, from when they first started running the film in 1986, the domestic print with the TriStar logo was used instead.
  • Some TV prints of Angel Heart have the TriStar logo while most DVD releases open with no logo.
  • The Scope version appears on at least a SECAM release of Rambo: First Blood Part II, but it does not appear at all on the British Thorn EMI Video release of said movie.
  • The still version can be found in TV spots of Rambo: First Blood Part II.

2nd Logo (May 1, 1986-November 30, 1988 as an movie logo, April 14-December 18, 1986 as an television logo)

Visuals: The logo starts out being in a black background with two silver streaks hitting diagonally from the opposite sides of the screen (lower-left and upper-right corners of the screen). The streaks merge and they have one or two beams of smaller light coming from them. Afterward, the streaks form the same "C" from the previous logo, but now colored in light blue/silver. "CAROLCO" appears below the "C", and it flashes/shines in a bright orange light.


  • On the theatrical trailer for Extreme Prejudice, the logo is silent and tinted blue.
  • On a French VHS of Red Heat, translated as Double Détente, the logo is shown in a still before the credits appear.

Technique: Motion-controlled animation.

Audio: A synthesized disco jingle starting with a descending whirring sound, though it usually used the Jerry Goldsmith tune.


  • It can be found on the 1989 VHS markdown releases of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Angel Heart plastering the previous logo.
  • It is also intact on the U.S. VHS, original Laserdisc, Artisan DVD, and Amazon Instant Video stream releases of Extreme Prejudice (though the original fanfare is replaced with the Goldsmith fanfare on the 1989 VHS markdown release).
  • The Apple TV and Fandango at Home print of the aforementioned movie has the Live Entertainment and TriStar Pictures logos. Said logo combo might have appeared on the widescreen Laserdisc release of said film.
  • It also makes an appearance in full on the trailer for the latter.
  • This also can be seen on Rambo: The Force of Freedom; it's retained on DVD releases of the series from Lionsgate.

3rd Logo (January 15, 1988-August 26, 1994, 2015-2016)

Visuals: Against a black background, a blue laser carves out a series of curves, making its way inward as it slowly turns up, revealing the "C" used in the previous two logos. Then, the logo shines brightly in a "wind tunnel" effect and zooms-out. As the shining ends, the logo is silver-colored, and the words "CAROLCO" zoom-out below. The logo shines once more.

Trivia: On international prints of The Wizard, this logo didn’t actually plaster over the Universal Pictures logo. Instead, the logo would play as normal with the music and would then be followed by the film with the Universal logo blacked out.


  • There is different lighting animation in the wind tunnel seen on some movies after the laser forms the logo. This was used for films in the 2.35:1 ratio such as Rambo III, Narrow Margin, The Doors, Basic Instinct, Universal Soldier, Cliffhanger, and the 1999 Artisan Entertainment VHS release of Rambo: First Blood Part II (the 1988 IVE release, as well as earlier video prints of Rambo III, Music Box, and Narrow Margin, used the standard animation).
    • A shortened version of this was seen on Music Box (only on current prints; the original video releases had the standard logo).
    • It should be noted that other films in the aforementioned ratio, such as DeepStar Six, Air America, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, use the other animation and appears cropped (as it was mainly for films in the 1.85:1 ratio).
  • The logo on their website shows "I TOLD YOU I'D BE BACK!" below the signature logo, in a comedic reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger's line from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
  • On the 2004 DVD release of Universal Soldier, a blue line is seen during the animation of the logo, due to a mastering error.

Closing Variant: On the end credits, the print logo is seen with trademark info below. The logo may be seen again with "A Carolco Release" or "A Carolco International, N.V. Release" above or below. Sometimes, legal information is seen below with "® DENOTES A TRADEMARK OF CAROLCO PICTURES, INC., REGISTERED IN THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE.".

Technique: CGI.

Audio: The same theme played on the first logo, now opening with a whoosh as the laser appears. Sometimes, it's silent or, on films such as Total Recall, the opening theme. It is also noted that it's the first track of the digital reissue of the Rambo III soundtrack as "Carolco Logo".

Audio Variant: On some TV airings (including Trifecta's syndicated print) of Lock Up, the 1984 TriStar jingle is heard due to a bad plastering error.

Availability: Seen on big hits such as Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Total Recall, Rambo III, and others.

  • Carolco went to TriStar Pictures for 80% of their releases. For most VHS releases, TV airings and other home media and streaming prints, Carolco's logo is kept while TriStar's logo is deleted; exceptions include DeepStar Six, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, Cliffhanger (owned by Sony Pictures), Homeboy (Fandango at Home and YouTube prints), the British DVD of Music Box, Total Recall (releases since 2001), Hamlet (1990) (French SECAM VHS, among possible others), Basic Instinct, Red Heat (on the IVE screener and all releases since 1999), the 1998/99 widescreen DVD release of Mountains of the Moon, Air America (from the 2004 DVD release on), The Doors, L.A. Story (particularly the 15th Anniversary DVD of that film), Narrow Margin (the German DVD and syndicated prints from Worldvision/Paramount/Trifecta), the 1998 widescreen LaserDisc release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day (as well as Paramount+/Pluto TV/FX/Fandango at Home prints, an Australian DVD release, the 2005 PSP UMD, and a 2015 Encore broadcast, reportedly), They Live (non-American media, possibly), Chaplin (the original Live Entertainment DVD from 1998 has only the Carolco logo), and Universal Soldier (not on the Live Entertainment DVD release, however).
  • Whenever Encore and Telemundo air Rambo III, the current Paramount Pictures logo (the 90th Anniversary version on Telemundo's print, cut off by a few seconds at the beginning) omits the TriStar logo but leaves Carolco's intact (on AMC airings, both logos are plastered by the Paramount logo), while Encore's airing of DeepStar Six shows the Paramount logo in addition to the TriStar and Carolco logos.
  • On Wagons East!, the last movie to use this logo, it appears after the 1993 TriStar logo (others after the 1984 TriStar logo), both proceeded by the Live Entertainment logo on TV prints (except Lionsgate's 2013 syndicated print) and on the VHS release.
  • It also plasters the 1st logo on the 1988 and 1998 VHS releases of Rambo: First Blood Part II.
  • U.S. prints of Repossessed have the Seven Arts logo instead, though the print logo still appears at the end and the actual logo appears on the 2003 Artisan Entertainment DVD. Some prints have the Seven Arts logo, but with the Carolco music.
  • The British DVD of Iron Eagle II replaces this with the TriStar Pictures logo, while the Artisan DVD retains this logo.
  • Also appeared on the beginning of the TV movies Dangerous Passion and Two-Fisted Tales.
  • This is seen on trailers for Reservoir Dogs (foreign prints only) and Cutthroat Island, but the former film would ultimately be released by Miramax Films and didn't use any logos at all, while the latter film would use the next logo below.
  • This is also seen on international prints of They Live, Shocker, Field of Dreams, Prince of Darkness, Career Opportunities, Opportunity Knocks, and The Wizard, which Universal Studios released domestically, among others.
  • The Carolco International N.V. credit appeared on international prints of films and on some old video releases, but domestic prints would have the TriStar logo and in most cases, later video releases have that.
  • Strangely, the Blu-ray release of Johnny Handsome only has a 2004 StudioCanal logo (neither a TriStar nor Carolco logo appear), but the in-credit international logo with legal information was kept.
  • This is seen on VHS releases of Lock-Up; DVD releases and some TV airings have TriStar and White Eagle Enterprises instead as they use the domestic print (and as mentioned, some TV prints have this logo with TriStar's music thanks to bad editing).
  • It was later seen on their website (before being replaced with the 5th logo), and in the annotation on the right.
  • It also appears on the 3D re-release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, as well as on current prints of Vista Organization films such as Maid to Order, Nightflyers, and Trading Hearts, among others. It is unknown if it appears on the Fox Lorber VHS release of Pathfinder.
  • It might have appeared on non-Australian theatrical prints of the Village Roadshow Pictures film Bloodmoon.

Legacy: Generally agreed upon to be one of the greatest logos of the 1980s.

4th Logo (December 22, 1995, 2015)

Visuals: Just a superimposed in-credit logo of Carolco, the "C" in gold with "CAROLCO" below, in a very small size.

Variant: Later on, when Carolco was revived, the logo appears larger and has a silver look, with a copyright notice below.

Technique: A printed image made using traditional ink and paint.

Audio: The film's or show's opening/closing theme.

Availability: Seen on Cutthroat Island, the last production by the original company. The later variant was only known to be seen on a trailer for a music concert film.

5th Logo (2016-2017)

Visuals: It's essentially the same as the 1988 logo, but this time done with modern CGI effects. The "CAROLCO" name is also in a thicker font.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: Same as the 1988 logo.

Availability: It was used as the intro on Carolco's website until the new Carolco was renamed Recall Studios.

External links

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