The Ladd Company

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum



Background

The Ladd Company was formed in 1979 by Alan Ladd Jr., Jay Kanter, and Gareth Wigan. Ladd was, prior to the studio's founding, the president of 20th Century Fox, and Kanter and Wigan were executives. As the alleged results of quarreling between Ladd and the studio higher-ups, the trio announced their intents to leave Fox when their contracts expired and form a production company to be financed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Soon after they left Fox, the trio placed ads for the newly named "Ladd Company" in magazines like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. They went on to produce movies such as Chariots of Fire, Blade Runner, and Police Academy, which were all successful. However, the box-office failures of The Right Stuff (despite that film being a critical success), Once Upon a Time in America, and Twice Upon a Time sent the studio into oblivion, and on April 18, 1984, The Ladd Company and Warner Bros. parted ways, even though Warner still had 3 years left on Ladd's contract (and they did produce two movies in 1985: Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment and Doin' Time).

In 1995, they entered a partnership with Paramount Pictures, producing Braveheart (which won an Academy Award for Best Picture), The Phantom, and A Very Brady Sequel. The deal only lasted one year. In 2005, they entered yet another deal, this time with Miramax Films. Two films came out of this deal: An Unfinished Life and Gone Baby Gone. After the release of Gone Baby Gone in 2007, the studio ceased operations and is now defunct.

Logo (September 26, 1980-October 19, 2007)

Visuals: On a white background, a green oak tree is etched from top to bottom with long glowing lines, and a single line is drawn for the bottom. When the tree is completely drawn out, red text that says "THE LADD COMPANY" fades in underneath. A few seconds later, smaller text that says "THRU WARNER BROS. A WARNER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY" in the 1972 Warner Bros. Pictures logo's font appears at the bottom. The "Big W" logo, also colored red, appears in between "THRU WARNER BROS." and the Warner Communications byline.

Trivia: In an October 1979 interview with the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, two of its founders, Alan Ladd Jr. and Gareth Wigan, were asked about the relevance of the tree in the logo. Quoted Ladd: "The tree, well you can say it has a tie to the tree of life. Trees grow. Trees live. Trees do all kinds of things." Said Wigan: "They do everything movie companies do, except make movies. They last a long time. They're living things. They're strong. They provide protection, and fruit, and growth."

Variants:

  • On Blade Runner, the logo is on a black background, and also contains a credit for Sir Run Run Shaw (of Shaw Brothers). This credit appeared separately from the logo (on a black background after the logo with the ending portion of the fanfare) on FX and AMC's prints of the film. The workprint of the film features the logo on a white background.
  • A version of this logo also with a black background, but without the Sir Run Run Shaw credit, is seen on Twice Upon a Time and the extended director's cut of Once Upon a Time in America.
  • On The Right Stuff, the oak tree is colored in blue, the text is in white, and the byline reads "A WARNER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY" in white. The French version had the tree completely white.
  • On the trailers for films, the oak tree is small, the text reads "A LADD COMPANY RELEASE" in white, and the byline is in white.
  • The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel have a sped-up version of the logo without the Warner byline, since Paramount released these two films.
    • The former uses a black background, while the latter uses the regular white background.
  • On the trailer for Five Days One Summer, the text (including the byline) is in white.

Technique: 2D computer animation.

Audio: A gentle-sounding orchestral horn fanfare written by John Williams.

Audio Variants:

  • This logo is silent on some films.
  • On The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel, a different fanfare composed by Guy Moon (who also composed the films' scores) is used.
    • The latter movie has a slightly extended version, resulting in the last note continuing into the Paramount Pictures logo.

Audio Trivia: The music is included on Edgar Rothermich's re-recording of the Blade Runner soundtrack.

Availability: It appears at the beginning of almost every film produced by the company in the early 1980s, including Blade Runner, Night Shift, Police Academy, Body Heat, and The Right Stuff. No logo appears on Chariots of Fire; that film only carries a in-credit notice. This also makes appearances at the end of The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel without the Warner byline, as they were both distributed by Paramount. A still version of this bylineless logo can be seen at the end of Braveheart (distributed by Paramount and internationally, 20th Century Studios) and Gone Baby Gone and An Unfinished Life, both distributed by Miramax.

The Ladd Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Paramount Pictures
20th Century Studios (Internationally only)
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