First National Pictures

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Background

First National was an association of independent theater owners in the United States that was founded in 1917 as First National Exhibitors' Circuit, Inc. The company expanded from exhibiting movies to distributing them, and eventually to producing them as a movie studio. It later merged with Warner Bros. Pictures. In July 1936, stockholders of First National Pictures, Inc. (primarily Warner Bros.) voted to dissolve the corporation and distribute its assets among the stockholders, in line with a new tax law which provided for tax-free consolidations between corporations. From 1941 to 1958, most Warner Bros. films bore the combined trademarks "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture". In 2002, Warner Bros. sold the name's rights to Ryan Kugler of Distribution Video & Audio (DV&A), a company specializing in acquiring excess inventory and close-out properties.


First National Pictures

1st Logo (1917-1924)


Visuals: On a black or dark brown background, there are the words "THE END" in yellowish-white, and below is the First National Pictures logo, consisting of a chained globe. Underneath are the words "A FIRST NATIONAL ATTRACTION", also in yellowish-white.

Variants:

  • On The Boat (and Buster Keaton shorts from the company), the word "The End" is omitted.
  • Earlier films until 1920 would have different details of the logo where the word "PICTURES" is replaced by "EXHIBITORS CIRCUIT, INC." below the title card.

Technique: A printed graphic.

Audio: None.

Availability: Seen on Back to God's Country, Nomads of the North, and The Boat.

2nd Logo (1924-1931)


Visuals: On a dark gold background, there is a dark yellow chained globe design (featuring North America), and over it is the words "THE END" in a light gold serif font. Then the words "THE END" fades to "A FIRST NATIONAL PICTURE" in a light gold Times New Roman font.

Variants:

  • Later on, there is a version of the logo in grayscale. The chained globe looks like a model, with the text "FIRST NATIONAL PICTURES" on it. The words "A First National Picture" are above it.
  • There is also a variant where the words "A First National Picture" below.
  • For films with the Vitaphone sound system, the Vitaphone logo is seen with the words "A First National" above the chained globe and "Production" below the Vitaphone logo.
  • There exists where the First National Pictures logo is on the left and the Vitaphone logo on the right.

Technique: Motion-controlled animation on a printed graphic.

Audio: None.

Availability: It was seen on The Lost World (1925) and the cartoon Stomach Problems (1927).

3rd Logo (September 26, 1931-1936)


Visuals: The words "FIRST NATIONAL PICTURES, INC." appear, and below that "& THE VITAPHONE CORP." appears in a much smaller font, with the "VITAPHONE" using "electric" style letters. Below that is a very small silhouette of North America surrounded with a circle of chains, and inside the continent is "FIRST NATIONAL PICTURES", very small; and in script, "Present". Behind it there is the drawing of a flag, "waving" so it looks like it is in 3 sections. On the first one, "FIRST NATIONAL" appears, followed by the electric-letter "VITAPHONE" logo on the second section, and on the third and last section, "PICTURES".

Closing Title: The closing variation has "The End" instead of "Present".

Trivia: The same layout of this logo was used by Warner Bros. Pictures from 1929 to 1936 for their feature films and animated shorts.

Technique: A printed graphic.

Audio: The opening theme of the film.

Availability: It was seen on its films that they produced right until 1936.

4th logo (December 1, 1934)

Visuals: Same as the 1934 Warner Bros. Pictures logo, but replaced with 1917-1936 First National Pictures logo.

Technique: Motion-controlled animation on a printed graphic.

Audio: Same as the 1934 Warner Bros. Pictures logo.

Availability: Only seen on Flirtation Walk.

5th Logo (1935-1937)

Visuals: Same as the 1935 Warner Bros. Pictures logo, but the inside of the shield contains the jagged letters "F-N".

Technique: Motion-controlled animation on a printed graphic.

Audio: Same as the 1935 Warner Bros. Pictures logo.

Availability: It's seen on films from the period and occasionally seen on TCM. [Examples?]

Warner Bros.-First National

Logo (Late 1930s-1940s?)


Visuals: On a grey background, there is the border of the WB shield. Under the top the letters "W" and "B", set in the same style as the normal WB shield, and inside the circle is the two countries, North America and the United Kingdom and under it is the text "FIRST NATIONAL PRODUCTIONS".

Technique: A matte painting.

Audio: The opening theme of the movie.

Availability: It's seen on its British films that were produced from the period until the 1940s and occasionally seen on TCM.