PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum



Background

PolyGram, a Dutch-German entertainment conglomerate, was founded in 1972 as a joint venture between Polydor Records (owned by German electronics giant Siemens) and PhonoGram Records (owned by Dutch electronics giant Philips). In 1983, after the Federal Trade Commission (in the U.S.) and the Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office) in what was then West Germany rejected a proposal to merge PolyGram with WEA Records (now the Warner Music Group), 40% of Siemens' stake in the firm was purchased by Philips, which acquired the remaining 10% of PolyGram stock in 1987.

In the early 1980s, PolyGram Video was formed as a subsidiary of the conglomerate that was used to distribute concert films and music videos (both under the PolyGram Music Video imprint and through video arms of its various record labels) and feature films acquired from third-party companies. To help fund the video division of the conglomerate, in 1986, PolyGram launched PolyGram Filmed Entertainment as a subsidiary based in England and became a European competitor to Hollywood. The first film it produced was P.I. Private Investigations in 1987. In 1989, PolyGram set up a film sales subsidiary Manifesto Film Sales. However, it didn't begin distributing its own films in the U.S. or use a logo until 1992. Prior to that, PolyGram often used other US distributors for some of their films such as The Samuel Goldwyn Company (Wild at Heart and Fear, Anxiety & Depression) and New Line Cinema (Drop Dead Fred, Fools of Fortune and Chicago Joe and the Showgirl). Between 1990 and 1995, PolyGram would acquire several production companies such as Working Title Films, Propaganda Films, Interscope Communications, Island Pictures, and ITC Entertainment; a similar acquisition practice was followed by PolyGram's co-owned record division, which was one of the world's largest record companies. PolyGram also formed 2 other labels as well: Gramercy Pictures (a joint venture between PolyGram and Universal Pictures, which acted as the former's American distributor and the latter's arthouse distributor) in 1992 and Rogue Pictures (a low budget label) in 1997. On December 10, 1998, Seagram, then the corporate parent of Universal Studios, completed an acquisition of PolyGram that it had announced in May; subsequently, the conglomerate was folded into Universal Pictures' broader operations, with PolyGram's film distribution network outside of the North American market being renamed to Universal Pictures International. UPI would handle international distribution for a small number of films, most of which were inherited from PFE; following the box office failure of one such film, Mickey Blue Eyes, Universal decided, in 2000, to fold the network into its former partner, United International Pictures; Universal would reenter theatrical distribution on its own in most countries in 2007. In 1999, Seagram sold most of the pre-March 31, 1996 library to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and it was incorporated into their Orion Pictures library.

Currently, most of the pre-March 31, 1996 PolyGram film library, including most of the Island Pictures library, the entire Atlantic Releasing Corporation library (through Island), and the Epic Productions library (which PolyGram had acquired in 1997), is owned by MGM; Universal owns the rights to some pre-March 31, 1996 films (Backbeat, Before the Rain, Hate (also known as La Haine), The Jacksons: An American Dream, Drop Dead Fred (in the UK only) and Cold Blooded) and the remaining films that were produced by PolyGram until its disestablishment. The rights to the PolyGram name itself have since been transferred to the Universal Music Group, which has been operating separately from the film studio since 2004.



1st Logo (September 4, 1992-1999)

Visuals: On a black background, "PolyGram" fades in. Then "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" fades in under the name. A red line is drawn between "PolyGram" and "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT", which causes a red flash after it stops drawing, then it shines once.

Variants:

  • For TV programs produced by the company, there's a short version that start directly from the line being drawn.
  • An earlier version exists, where the words are already formed, and the colors are completely inverted.
  • Sometimes, "FILM DISTRIBUTION" replaces "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT". Also, when the line flashes, the light refracts in different directions and when the line shines, the points on the shining star are much longer, overlapping both lines of text. This can be spotted on the 1998 film, Le Clone.
  • A scope variant also exists, where the logo is cropped from 1.85 to 2.35 to fit the aspect ratio. This can be spotted on Moonlight and Valentino, French Kiss (which was a co-production with 20th Century Fox), and the theatrical trailers for The Game (1997).
  • A rare variation of this logo also exists where the text "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT DISTRIBUTION" appeared underneath the PolyGram name, the red line is longer and it flashes afterward with no shining.
  • On a September 27, 2004 French airing of Romeo is Bleeding (1993) on M6, what appears to be a recreation of the logo is seen. The text is also in a different font, and the line also does not flash or shine.
  • On The Price of Love, the text "IN ASSOCIATION WITH" is shown above the logo.

Technique: Motion-controlled computer animation.

Audio: Usually none or the opening theme of the film.

Audio Variants:

  • On the 1999 Universal Studios Home Entertainment UK DVD release of Twelve Monkeys (1995), it uses the last half of the fanfare from the 1990 Universal logo, due to an editing mistake.
  • On Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie (or Bean: The Movie in the USA), a ding can be heard when the logo flashes, part of the film’s opening score. It can also be heard on the film’s deleted scenes featurette Bean Scenes Unseen as well.

Availability:

  • Appears on most 1992 to 1997 PolyGram films, most notably Posse, Romeo is Bleeding, Jason's Lyric, Four Weddings and a Funeral (it also appears intact on the 2007 MGM Region 4 DVD release, preceded by the 1986 MGM logo), Dead Man Walking, Kalifornia (1997 PolyGram Video DVD and 2000 MGM DVD releases only, the 1994 PolyGram Video VHS release and current prints have this logo removed), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1994 PolyGram Video VHS release only, plastered by the 2005 Lionsgate Films logo on current prints due to PolyGram only handling that home media release and Lionsgate owning the film through producer Vestron Pictures), Fargo, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (but not on the 1995 PolyGram Video VHS release), Red Rock West (even on a November 15, 2023 UK airing thereof on LEGEND) and Bean (aka Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie), among others.
  • The short version was found on programs during the timeframe, like the Canadian live-action show Lassie (1997).
  • It also appears on UK trailers for PolyGram films, some of which can be found on VHS releases in the United States by PolyGram Video.
  • It also appears on the PolyGram Video UK VHS print, some 1996 U.S. VHS prints, and the 1999 MGM U.S. DVD release of The Usual Suspects.
  • This logo also does not appear on Shallow Grave, the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman films (which PolyGram gets credited as a producer on due to Jon Peters and Peter Guber producing the films and PolyGram receiving a portion of the films' earnings as part of Peters' and Guber's departure from the studio), The Matchmaker or any pre-1992 PolyGram films.
  • It is unknown if this logo also appears on any video prints of The Basketball Diaries, which they acquired through its purchase of Island World a few months before its theatrical release.
  • On newer prints of post-1996 films such as Bean (aka Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, 1997), and pre-1996 films that they own, this is plastered with the 1997 Universal logo instead due to the latter losing the rights of the PolyGram name to UMG.
  • This also appears on current prints of The Borrowers (which originally used the next logo) when it last aired on Disney XD, Discovery Family, and Netflix and on the Universal DVD release as well (following the 1997 Universal logo, respectively).
    • This was also seen on an April 16, 2001 UK airing of Spice World: The Movie (1997; again, that film originally used the next logo on non-U.S. prints) on BBC One.
  • The inverted variant can be seen on The Jacksons: An American Dream on TV One, VH1, and VH1 Classic, although it's plastered by the short version of the 1997 Universal logo on BET and Centric (now BET Her) broadcasts, the Motown DVD releases and Tubi's print.
  • This logo also makes an appearance during the documentary Return to Shining Time: Your Ticket to Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which appears as a bonus feature on the 2020 Blu-ray/DVD release of Thomas and the Magic Railroad (2000).

2nd Logo (September 12, 1997-April 2, 1999)

Visuals: On a dark cloudy skyscape is a transparent, crystallized winged man standing against some mountains. The camera pans outward as he jumps up and remains in the air, as his wings move back and forth. The camera pans to his left as he freezes in the air, where several white streaks appear across his body. The silver word "POLYGRAM" flies under the man and centers in place as he flashes white all over and becomes still. "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" (or "FILMS") appears under "POLYGRAM", and everything shines.

Trivia: This logo was designed by Michael J. Deas, who painted and designed the 1992 Columbia Pictures and 1993 Merv Griffin Enterprises logos, and animated by the London-based Picture Production Company. It was created to coincide with the launch of PolyGram Films, which was to release PFE's big-budget releases in the U.S. The logo was based on the sculpture "Speed" by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, intended as a hood ornament for cars by the Gorham Manufacturing Company. It may be based on the ancient Greek statue known as The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Variants:

  • A prototype version of the logo exists, with just the winged man and the word "POLYGRAM" in a stylistic font. Then either "FILMS" or "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" in a smaller font fades in.
  • Some direct-to-video releases, such as Cats, refer to the company as "POLYGRAM VISUAL PROGRAMMING".
  • A cut-short videotaped variant exists, which appears on several UK VHS releases such as Spice World: The Movie (1997) and Barney's Great Adventure (1998) and the 1998 UK VHS rental release of Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie (1997), among others. This just has the Icarus shining and the "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" text zooming out underneath. This was also used as the basis for the short PolyGram Video and PolyGram Television logos, respectively.
    • A cut-short videotaped variant of the "POLYGRAM VISUAL PROGRAMMING" logo also exists, which appears on a UK VHS trailer for Maisy.
  • An open matte version exists, which appears on the theatrical trailer for Barney's Great Adventure.
  • There are two variants done for some films shot in the 2.35 aspect ratio. There is one where the 1.85 variant is cropped to 2.35 to accommodate the scope format. The other one is where the 4:3 version is cropped to 2.35. The cropped 1.85 version appears on the PolyGram Video DVD of Your Friends and Neighbors. The cropped 4.3 version plasters over the prototype version on some prints of The Game.
  • Another variant also exists where "FILM DISTRIBUTION" replaces "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT". This can be spotted on a French trailer for The Borrowers in a short version while the full version appears on both Fin août, début septembre and Trafic d'influence, the latter of which is in scope.
  • On a promotion seen before the warning screen of the French VHS release of Spice World: The Movie (1997), the "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" variant of the prototype version of the logo appears with a dark yellow tint.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: None or the opening theme of the film.

Availability:

  • This was used for only two years, and later home media releases as well as most television airings of films that originally used this logo have it plastered by the 1997 Universal logo (due to the aforementioned UMG transfer).
  • Theatrically, the "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" variant appears outside of the U.S., while the "FILMS" variant appears on PFE's "tentpole" features in the U.S., including The Game, The Borrowers, Barney's Great Adventure, What Dreams May Come, Very Bad Things, Return to Paradise, and The Proposition, among others.
  • PFE's other films would use the Gramercy Pictures logo in the U.S. instead.
  • It appears on PolyGram Video VHS and DVD releases of films such as Barney's Great Adventure, The Big Lebowski, Elizabeth, Clay Pigeons, The Borrowers, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, among others.
  • The prototype version with "FILMS" appears on The Game (where the logo debuted, even on current prints following the 1997 Universal logo), a teaser trailer, and a TV spot for The Borrowers, a trailer for Barney's Great Adventure which appears on the Lyrick Studios VHS releases of Barney: It's Time For Counting and Barney in Outer Space, including the screener version of the latter and the UK TV spot for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (albeit slightly off-centered).
  • The "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" variant of the prototype version also appears on Dead Letter Office, the UK trailer for The Game, the theatrical trailer for The Borrowers and also makes a surprise appearance on an early teaser trailer for The Green Mile.
  • It also appears on British prints of Spice World (released in the UK as Spice World: The Movie), but American prints use the Columbia Pictures logo instead (as Columbia distributed the movie in the U.S. instead).
  • When Universal Studios Home Entertainment reissued PolyGram Video/USA Home Entertainment DVD releases from 2002 to 2004, they re-released the PolyGram manufactured discs in their original packaging but edited out almost all references to PolyGram on the cases (however, it would be likely that films from this time frame released in this method would preserve this logo) - one such release was a 2003 reprint of The Big Lebowski under Universal.
  • It also appears intact on a 2008 Showtime airing of The Hi-Lo Country, as well as a Hulu print of Your Friends & Neighbors.
  • The "FILMS" variant also appears on theatrical prints of The Borrowers and on a TMC on Demand print of What Dreams May Come (however, the VHS and original DVD releases of both films use the "FILMED ENTERTAINMENT" variant).
  • One of few films, if not the only one, to retain this on all current prints is Barney's Great Adventure: The Movie, where it's sometimes preceded by the 1997 Universal logo, especially since 2014 when Mattel (a Universal partner) acquired the HiT Entertainment library from Apax Partners in October 2011.
PolyGram Pictures
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Universal Pictures