Orion Pictures

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Background

Orion Pictures (legally Orion Releasing LLC) was formed as the Orion Pictures Company in March 1978 as a joint venture between Warner Bros. and former United Artists executives Arthur B. Krim, Eric Pleskow and Robert S. Benjamin. When the studio was formed, they produced films that would be released through Warner Bros. In 1982, Orion bought Filmways, Inc. after Orion was unhappy with distribution agreements with Warner Bros. In June 1982, Filmways Pictures was reincorporated as Orion Pictures Corporation. In 1983, Orion introduced Orion Classics as an arthouse division.

On May 22, 1986, Metromedia purchased a minor stake in the studio and later purchased 67% of the studio on May 20, 1988. In the late 1980s, Orion began to struggle financially, and would declare bankruptcy on December 11, 1991. In 1996, Orion Pictures under Metromedia acquired Samuel Goldwyn Entertainment. On April 11, 1997, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. acquired Metromedia's film studios (Orion, Goldwyn and the Motion Picture Corporation of America) and the deal was closed in July. A year later, Orion was folded into MGM, and the Motion Picture Corporation of America separated from MGM to become independent. Orion survived as an in-name-only unit of MGM during that time frame.

In 2013, MGM revived the Orion Pictures brand for use on genre films and became a standalone division with the same purpose in late 2017. In 2020, the division was revamped again, this time with a new focus on minorities.

Currently, most of Orion's post-1982 films are owned by MGM (with Orion retaining the copyright). Warner Bros. continues to own all pre-1982 films, select films that they released afterwards (however, MGM/Orion still owns A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy and Zelig, two Orion films they released after the initial deal), and films produced by The Saul Zaentz Company. StudioCanal owns First Blood through producer Carolco Pictures, HBO Films owns North American distribution rights to Three Amigos (MGM retains TV and foreign rights, however), Paramount Pictures owns North American distribution rights to The Addams Family and Lionsgate Films owns films produced by Live Entertainment. Films produced by Nelson Entertainment and Hemdale Film Corporation were originally distributed by Orion and became owned by MGM (with Orion holding the copyright) after MGM purchased the pre-March 31, 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library.


1st Logo (April 27, 1979-December 18, 1981)

Visuals: On a black screen, two rectangles, one blue and one orange, each one tilted forward at a 45-degree angle (making them appear like the floor and ceiling of a tunnel), shoot out towards the center of the screen. When they both connect at the center of the screen, they tilt back 45 degrees, so that they are facing the viewer completely, and enlarge to fill the screen. In the blue rectangle, which is on the top is the 1972 Warner Bros. "Big W" logo and the words "WARNER BROS". In the orange rectangle, which is on the bottom, there are the words "ORION (in their trademark font) PICTURES COMPANY (in an ITC Avant Garde Gothic font)". After a while, the blue and orange rectangles move to each other's spot, briefly overlapping. "A WARNER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY" and "present" fade in under "WARNER BROS".

Variants:

  • On the 1983 Warner Home Video VHS release of Time After Time, the color scheme is brighter and is also zoomed in.
  • On the trailer for Zelig, the logo appears in red and black rather than orange and blue.

Closing Variants:

  • At the end of the credits is the text "AN ORION PICTURES /WARNER BROS RELEASE" with "ORION" in its trademark logo font and "WARNER BROS" in its 1972 font from the theatrical logo. There is the byline "Thru WARNER BROS, A Warner Communications Company" with the Warner Communications \\' logo in between the name and the company byline.
  • Another variant looks close to the opening logo but has a red stripe on a blue background, with text reading "A WARNER BROS/ORION PICTURES RELEASE". Underneath it is text reading "Thru", with the "\\'" to the right, and the Warner Communications byline below (all company names are in their trademark fonts as with the regular closing variant).

Technique: 2D cel animation.

Audio: Silence or the opening theme of the film.

Availability:

  • Appears on the original WCI/Warner VHS and Betamax releases of Monty Python's Life of Brian, Time After Time, Prince of the City, Sharky's Machine, Arthur (preserved on the retail copy only; the rental copy has it plastered by the next logo), Wolfen (also intact on a 1992 HBO broadcast), The Great Santini, The Hand (also on the 1999 VCD release) and Caddyshack, along with a TV Land airing of the latter and AMC airings of the former.
  • The logo was also retained on a July 12, 1996 airing of Arthur on WLIG-TV in Riverhead, New York (which renamed itself to WLNY on September 1, 1996).
  • The only known source for this logo currently is Prince of the City.
  • The second closing variant is available on early VHS prints of Arthur.

2nd Logo (July 4, 1979-March 19, 1997, October 4, 2013-2022)

Visuals: The first element shown is a starry sky, then a constellation of stars (in the shape of the constellation Orion, appropriately) in the middle shine brighter than the rest. It moves to the left, forms a circle, and spins around until, in a small but bright flash, it forms the letter "O". Then the letters "RION" appear via a sliding effect to complete the logo, which is stylized when a line is drawn across it. The traces of the line remain on the left side of each letter except the "I", which has the line across the word. "An" and "PICTURES RELEASE" appear above and below the logo accordingly.

Variants:

  • On films from 1980 to 1982, under the logo itself, there was a byline that said "Thru WARNER BROS, A Warner Communications Company", with a little \\' next to the company name and the Warner byline underneath. The byline can be centered or off-centered. After Orion purchased Filmways, the logo was freeze-framed to hide the Warner Bros. references.
  • On the U.S. VHS release of First Blood, the logo has a green tint and appears to be compressed (stretched to fill 4:3). In the case of the latter, it was most likely due to the anamorphic widescreen ratio of the film not being uncompressed.
  • Beginning with Desperately Seeking Susan, there is a registered trademark symbol "®" that appears next to the Orion name.
  • Another version reads "PICTURES INTERNATIONAL" below the logo; "INTERNATIONAL" replaces "RELEASE".
  • Starting in 1984 on trailers, the logo is close up and begins from the stars spinning to form the "O", but, instead of the words "An" and "PICTURES RELEASE" fading in, the words "COMING FROM" (in a larger font) and "PICTURES CORPORATION" fade in above and below the logo, respectively.
  • Starting in 1986, an updated version with the words in blue and smaller size is used.
  • On some trailers (Bull Durham for example), the Orion logo fades out and the words "PREVIEW" and "COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU" fades in.
  • On the trailer for Gorky Park, right before the announcer states the actors in the movie, a screen is shown with "ORION PICTURES PRESENTS" with the announcer reading the words.
  • On Three Amigos, after this logo fades, "IN ASSOCIATION WITH (in the same style as "An" and "PICTURES RELEASE" on the standard logo) "HOME BOX OFFICE" (in a bold, white font) fades in.
  • On 1980s syndication prints of Green Acres, a shortened version of this logo is seen that starts with the "O" forming "RION".
  • Orion Home Video releases would have either of that company's logos merge into this logo.
  • Some Italian films distributed by Orion use a special variant in that language where "CDI" replaces "ORION" and "COMPAGNIA DISTRIBUZIONE INTERNAZIONALE" appears underneath. More of this variant can be found here.
  • A trailer variant of this logo was spotted on an early US trailer of The Addams Family, before Orion sold distribution rights for the film.
  • On current prints of The Arrival, in one of the sloppiest plasters ever, when the full text appears, it cuts off to the 2006 Lionsgate logo, covering up any reference to the LIVE Entertainment logo.
  • Starting in 2018, the logo was slightly updated; here, only "PICTURES" appears underneath the "ORION" text, similar to the 3rd logo, and there is now an MGM byline. The freeze-frame, which was designed to hide the Warner Bros. references, also remains on this version.
  • A rare German variant exists, which appears on a 1987 ARD airing of Breathless, where a traced Orion logo, with "IM FILMVERLAG" below it, zooms in.

Closing Variant: The end of each film would say just the same as the opening logo but on a black background of the end credits.

  • From 1979 to 1982, the text and byline were in bold and in all capital letters in the same font used on the Warner Bros. "Big W" logo.
  • Beginning in 1983, the entire text is in one line without the byline. In Just Between Friends, the text is yellow.

Technique: Motion-controlled animation done by Edstan Studio.

Audio: A jingle consisting of futuristic-sounding series of chimes combined with a majestic horn fanfare after the stars merge is heard. This fanfare was composed by Leland Bond.

Audio Variants:

  • Most of the time, it is silent, or in many cases, the opening theme of the film is heard.
  • On current prints (including a November 20, 2023 Talking Pictures UK airing) of The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), the 1997 music from the next logo is heard due to sloppy reverse plastering.

Availability:

  • The byline-less version is preserved on most 1982 to 1995 films (usually with the MGM logo), such as The Silence of the Lambs, The Terminator (although the 1991 Hemdale Home Video VHS release and 1995 Image Entertainment LaserDisc releases plaster this logo with the Hemdale Film Corporation logo), Madhouse, Bull Durham, the original Robocop trilogy, Hoosiers, Mississippi Burning, Platoon (except for the 1998 PolyGram VHS release), UHF, Three Amigos, Breathless (1983), Harry and Son, Dances with Wolves (U.S. prints only), and both Bill & Ted films, among others (though the 2001 DVD release of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey inexplicably cuts the logo, going from the MGM logo straight to the opening credits, while current prints of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure omit this, having only the 2010 MGM and Nelson logos).
  • The earlier variant with the Warner Bros. byline first appeared on the 1980 WCI Home Video VHS and Betamax release of 10 to plaster the previous logo and also appears on theatrical releases of the time frame (in tandem with the previous logo). This version also plasters the previous logo on current releases of 1979 to 1981 films such as Caddyshack, The Great Santini, Arthur (1981), Sharky's Machine and Wolfen, among others. On First Blood, it is preserved on the 1983 Thorn EMI Video VHS release, appearing on the film all the way up to the 1995 Avid Home Entertainment release, and also appears on the widescreen LaserDisc release from Live Home Video; though the film itself is letterboxed, the logo is still anamorphically squeezed into a 4:3 frame.
  • The original closing variant appeared from 1979 to 1982, only appearing without the Warner Bros. byline towards the end of its run. The last film to feature it was Split Image, which removed it on all home video releases; currently, the only known sources for the bylineless variant are old VHS releases of Amityville II: The Possession, the first film to use this logo without the WB byline. Beginning with Lone Wolf McQuade, which doesn’t have “Orion” in its usual stylized font, the closing logo was on a single line of text and usually appeared during the closing credits sequences instead of after.
  • This logo is usually removed from current prints of Split Image (one of the first films to feature this logo without the Warner Bros. byline) and instead go straight to the PolyGram logo. Out of the original Amityville films, this is retained only on Amityville 3-D, where the MGM logo does not appear at all on the Blu-ray release, even at the end. The R-rated Director's Cut version of Amadeus plasters this logo with the 2001 Warner Bros. logo, since Orion only handled theatrical distribution in the United States and Warner Bros. owns the film via The Saul Zaentz Company. It is also intact on some releases of the original Theatrical Cut, such as the Pioneer Entertainment Widescreen Laserdisc release and the 1997 WB Region 1 DVD release. Recent TV airings and the Blu-ray release of No Way Out plasters this with the next logo, although it is still retained on the Region 1 DVD release and also on the 2000s MGM VHS reissue.
  • The trailer variants can be found on some theatrical or teaser trailers on DVD releases, such as on The Terminator and UHF. The Italian variant appears on the 1989 IVE VHS release of the 1988 film Domino; some prints may also use the standard Orion Pictures logo.
    • The shortened version could be seen at the end of Green Acres reruns as late as the mid-2000s. The studio produced several films in 1991 that were not released until 1993 and 1994, such as The Dark Half, Robocop 3, Car 54 Where Are You?, There Goes My Baby, Clifford and China Moon.
  • The Orion Home Video variant appears on VHS releases of the studio's material from the company (but not on material licensed to the company).
  • When the studio was restarted in 2013, it made its debut on Grace Unplugged (which was co-released by Lionsgate Films and Roadside Attractions and was the first film released under the rebooted studio). Later, it appeared on the Brazilian film Vestido pra Casar (translated as Dressed to Marry), and other recent films from the revived company.
  • It also appears on international VHS prints of The Addams Family, but the international DVD releases have the 1990 version of the 1986 Paramount Pictures logo instead just like on the domestic release.
  • It also appears on international prints of Crimes of Passion (1984) and Iron Warrior, though the Arrow Video release of the former goes straight to the opening title screen, while the latter is plastered with the 2001 variant of the 1986 MGM logo.
  • It also appears on the screener VHS release of The Arrival from Live Entertainment, followed by a shortened version of Live's logo.
  • It is unknown if this also appears on Phat Beach, also produced by Live Entertainment.
  • This logo also appears on Behind Enemy Lines (1997).
  • It is unknown if this appears on U.S. theatrical prints of the 1989 film Rude Awakening; the HBO Video VHS release only has the Aaron Russo Entertainment logo instead.
  • The 1982 version of this logo also appears at the start of a Paramount+ streaming service print of Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal (1982) after the 2021 MGM logo.
  • The 1982 version of this logo also appears at the start of a Tubi streaming print of The Heavenly Kid (1985) after the 2021 MGM logo.
  • The 1982 version of this logo was also seen on a February 17, 2001 airing of Dances with Wolves (1990) on affiliate KMSP, following the long version of the 1996 MGM Domestic Television Distribution logo.
  • AIP/Filmways catalog releases featuring this logo include Alakazam the Great (with fanfare, as seen on Showtime Beyond) and Wild in the Streets (HBO/Cannon release).
  • It may have appeared on the U.S. theatrical prints of Speed Zone (AKA: Cannonball Fever or Cannonball Run III) and Eve of Destruction, but home video releases show no evidence.

Legacy: A very popular and iconic logo during its initial run, to the point where it was revived when Orion was revived in 2013.

3rd Logo (January 1, 1997-September 24, 1999)

Visuals: Very much the same as the previous logo, but updated with CGI. The starfield behind the logo no longer zooms out as the logo forms, but shoots out towards the screen. The animation is the same, but the stars now have a "trail" that forms the "O", and the forming of the actual logo, including a laser light, forming the line in the logo, is different. The logo itself is now silvery and 3D, and only "PICTURES" appears below the logo in the same font as last time. Inside the "ORION" text is an animated landscape.

Variants:

  • The distance the logo is seen at can vary.
  • A B&W variant of this logo exists, which appears on American International Pictures films in black and white.
  • A trailer version begins at the logo forming, and cuts before the light draws the line through it. This appears on a trailer for Napoleon on the 1998 MGM VHS releases of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Joey.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: An ascending cycle of strings that repeats alongside a horn tune. As the logo begins to form, it picks up tempo, culminating in a majestic hit and a three-note sounder. This theme was composed by John Pratt and Michael Alemania, and conducted by cellist Suzie Katayama.

Audio Variant: Sometimes, the logo is silent or the opening theme of the film may be heard.

Availability:

  • Can be found on the studio's (limited) output of films from this period until its original demise in 1999, such as The Locusts, City of Industry, Gang Related, and Ulee's Gold. Like the previous logo, the MGM logo precedes this logo on most current prints.
  • It also appears on DVD releases and television airings of many American International Pictures films, such as The Island of Dr. Moreau, Coffy, Hell Up In Harlem, and Bucktown (indeed, you're more likely to find this logo on an AIP film than an actual Orion movie).
  • It also plasters the Filmways Pictures logo on the MGM DVD release of Blow Out and it also appears on current prints of the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again (meaning it was not produced by Eon Productions, the production company of the series) plastering the 1972 Warner Bros. "Big W" logo, including the 2001 MGM/UA UK VHS release, MGM DVD releases, and Netflix's (deleted) streaming print.
  • Some prints of Orion films distributed by MGM plastered the previous logo with this one, such as No Way Out (1987) (and also appears intact on a February 16, 2023 UK airing thereof on Film4, following the 1986 MGM logo) and The Falcon and The Snowman (1985).
  • It also appears on Pluto TV's print of Henry V (1989), plastering The Samuel Goldwyn Company logo.
  • The Stargate: SG-1 television movie pilot also has this logo.
  • It also appears at the start of the Screenpix print of Space Probe Taurus (1965) after the 2021 Metro-Goldwyn Mayer logo.
  • It also appeared at the start of an April 8, 2023 UK airing of Five Guns West (1953) after the 2011 StudioCanal logo on LEGEND.

4th Logo (July 20, 2022-)

Visuals: Starts similarly to the second logo. As the stars of Orion fade into view, the stars form a circle, but it stays at the center instead of shifting to the left. Additionally, the space background is now more detailed and continues to rotate along with the Orion stars. As the stars form the circle, a purple-blue cloud appears, which quickly turns into a constantly shifting spectrum of color. After a few seconds, the word "ORION" (now in a completely different font and straight up) emerges from the cloud on a different, far darker space background, lacking the holes in the letters. The dazzling colors then die down and form a backdrop within the letters, as a line slashes through the letters like the second logo and a byline fades in underneath the second "O".

Trivia: The new, colorful design of this logo is intended to correspond with Orion's current focus on underserved minority audiences for films (a "wide spectrum of stories waiting to be told", per this Adweek article).

Bylines:

  • 2022-2023: "AN MGM COMPANY", which is far smaller than usual.
  • 2023-present: "AMAZON MGM STUDIOS", in Amazon Ember Light and Metro-Mayer Serif Bold.

Closing Variant: Just the finished product on a black background.

Technique: CGI by Gravillis Inc.

Audio: An ethereal choir accompanied by some howling, a timpani hit and then a three-note tune as the line appears. Composed by electro-pop musician Kid Moxie.

Audio Variant: Otherwise, it's the opening theme of the film.

Availability:

  • It debuted on the company's YouTube channel on July 20, 2022, and later appeared on the trailer for Till and made its official debut on the film itself.
  • Currently used in tandem with the 2nd logo as of this writing.

Logo (1979?)


Visuals: On a blue starry background, there is a glowing light blue man wielding a sword, which resembles that of the mythological Orion. He spins his sword two times, and when he's about to do a third spin, he flashes and stops in a pose reminiscent of the Orion constellation and five silver stars flash on different parts of his body. When this happens, the stacked gold text "ORION PICTURES COMPANY" flashes underneath.

Trivia: The logo was done by famed title sequence designer Dan Perri, known for his work on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, Airplane! and The Exorcist, and also designed The Samuel Goldwyn Company and Hemdale Film Corporation logos.

Technique: A mix of rotoscoping and 2D animation.

Audio: A heroic fanfare, similar to the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves theme from the Morgan Creek and 2007 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment logos, which takes on a lighter tone once it fades out.

Availability: This was unused, but it can be seen on Dan Perri's Vimeo account.

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