Virgin Video

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Virgin Video was a British home video distributor and former production company. The company was originally founded in 1975 as Virgin Rags Limited, and renamed to Virgin Entertainments (holdings) Limited in 1978. Around this time, the company entered the theatrical market under the name "Virgin Films and Video", which was later split into two separate divisions - Virgin Video, which handled home video distribution, and Virgin Films, which handled theatrical releases. Much of the content produced by both divisions have since gone on to become cult classics in 1980's retrospective. 20th Century Fox's UK division initially distributed their films theatrically before the company started self-distributing them.

By 1983, the company was renamed as Virgin Vision Limited, although they still used both subsidiary names. By the mid-80's, the company operated a distribution joint-venture with Stephen Wooley's Palace and Gold, titled "Palace, Virgin and Gold (Distribution) Ltd." In 1987, in order to increase its global presence, the company launched its U.S. subsidiary, first distributing tapes through Continental Video, then with its own American subsidiary Virgin Vision, Inc.

In July 1989, Virgin was acquired by Jonathan D. Krane's Management Company Entertainment Group from the Virgin Group, and was renamed MCEG Virgin Vision Limited. It also combined M.C.E.G.'s existing American video operations, namely "MCEG Home Video" and "Forum Home Video", with its existing Virgin American unit into one company under the name of "MCEG Virgin Home Entertainment". However, this buyout would soon prove to be a failure, and MCEG soon filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 1990. By this point, 85% of the company was sold to GE Capital with the remaining 15% stake was re-acquired by the Virgin Group. but then it later sold the remaining 15% to GE Capital. The company scaled down its operations to video distribution only in the UK, while shutting down operations in other countries, namely the U.S. and Australia.

In March 1991, GE Capital put Virgin Vision up for sale. Virgin soon sold its stake in the company to GE Capital in July 1991, who rebranded the business as Vision Video Ltd. within the same time, with the MCEG Virgin Vision company itself rebranding under the name by July 1992.

1st Logo (1981-1986)

Visuals: There is a muscular, shirtless man hitting a vinyl record labelled with the Virgin logo on it, as if it were a gong (like the Rank logo). It explodes and as the pieces fly away, sparks appear and white the familiar "Virgin" logo which is stylised for a moment before flashing to its normal corporate font. The text "FILMS and VIDEO", stacked appear on the bottom right of "Virgin", and "presents" fades in underneath. All the text is in white.

Variant: An extended variant of this logo exists. In this version, we see the man from before about to hit the record again now in gold, but it shakes and he runs away as an aeroplane comes crashing though it. The screen pans across the puzzled man as the aeroplane makes smoke trails that form the normal "Virgin" text which flashes as the stacked text "FILMS PRESENTS" appears below it.

Technique: Cel animation.

Audio: None or the opening theme of the movie.


  • The regular version can be found on some very early pre-cert concert VHS releases from this time period such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - The Best of OMD.
  • The extended version is only seen on older international prints of Electric Dreams and is also retained on the 1984 UK VHS release from the company, although some releases plaster it with the next logo while the U.S. release plasters it with the 1984 MGM/UA Entertainment Co. "Diamond Jubilee" logo instead.

2nd Logo (1982-1986)

Visuals: Against a black background, the Virgin logo, colored red red and in its thinner variant, zooms out from the top left of the screen with a residue-trailing effect, of which a few copies streak down before it settles and flashes. Then, "VIDEO", which is in a thin Futura font, zooms out to the lower right of the logo with a similar trail effect, each of the letters lighting up before the trail disappears, and then glows slightly. It later fades out as the glowing text "Presents", set in Gill Sans, fades and zooms in.


  • At the end of some VHS releases, the blue text "other major releases available from" appears at the bottom of the screen, before a silent version of the logo plays afterwards.
  • On some releases like NOW Music and at the end of some like the 1985 UK VHS release of Rupert and the Frog Song (1984), the text "Presents" isn't shown. In addition, the logo also stays on-screen longer because of it.
  • On UB40: Labour of Love, when the logo fades out, "Presents" is nowhere to be seen.
  • A variant for theatrical movies where the logo is the same except it reads "FILMS" instead of "VIDEO". The colors are also much darker in this version, so it makes it look more orange than red.
  • On the 1984 UK pre-cert VHS release of U2: Live at Red Rocks: 'Under a Blood Red Sky', a unique variant plays out with the Kace International logo. The Virgin Video logo, though with "VIDEO" now being in Century Gothic, flies down from the top of the screen, while a sky blue Kace International logo flies up from the bottom, and they both flash when they stop moving. It then fades to "Presents", also in Century Gothic, before staying on a black screen as the rest of the music plays.

Technique: Scanimate.

Audio: A very deep, distorted electric guitar tune with heavy bass, what sounds like a flute in the background and a Kenny G-esque saxaphone riff. Composed and performed in the key of B minor by Mick Karn of the English music group Japan. The audio is heavy muffled.

Audio Variant: Sometimes, the opening theme of the film will play instead.


  • The "VIDEO" variant is seen on many pre-cert releases from the company such as old concert music videos such as Genesis: The Mama Tour, the Depeche Mode videos (Live in Hamberg and Some Great Videos), UB40: Labour of Love, Public Image Limited: Videos, U2: Under a Blood Red Sky, the Japan videos (Instant Pictures and Oil on Canvas), the 1985 UK VHS release of Now That's What I Call Music 6 (following the 1982 Picture Music International logo), and cult films such as Electric Dreams.
    • It is also only seen at the end of the 1985 UK VHS release of Rupert and the Frog Song (1984).
  • The FILMS variant is harder to find however.
    • Because MGM owns the rights to their catalogue through the pre-March 31, 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library, it has fallen to plastering by either the MGM logo, other logos, or being deleted altogether on newer prints.
      • However, it is still preserved on older releases such as 1984 and The Executioner's Song.

Legacy: This logo has gained notoriety for its dark background, color scheme, muffled audio and Scanimate effects. It also gained a cult following (even transcending the logo enthusiast community). Sometimes referred to alongside other infamous logos from companies like Viacom, VID, Klasky Csupo, Paramount Television and THX.

3rd Logo (1986-1992)

Visuals: On a black background, a set of revolving tri-coloured light beams (red, blue, and green) shoot out towards the screen and bounce back and forth three times in a backward "Z" formation. As it hits the centre, various circles wipe in to form the Virgin logo, glowing various colours as it rotates upward. Then a light glows under it and fully turns into white circles, forming the logo as its signature red colour wipes over the circles. The light then engulfs the background becoming blue, followed by white and then mostly blue.


  • In the United States and Canada, a different end result is used with slightly cheaper animation, a blue background and drop shadow on the Virgin logo and "VISION" sandwiched on two red lines.
    • Another version where the logo is already formed and then shines twice exists.
  • A filmed version also exists.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: A sound of synthesised horn notes, accompanied by chimes as the beams bounce around, a decent synthesised sound when the logo rises up played over a synth horn, and at the end strings can be heard when "Virgin" fills red.

Audio Variant: On some VHS releases, the jingle ends quicker than usual.

Availability: Seen on VHS releases of films such as Retribution, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Edge of Sanity, Checking Out, How to Get Ahead in Advertising, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, The Banker, Fear (1988), The Rosary Murders, and Destroyer among others.

  • It can also be found on UK VHS releases of Paris by Night, RoboCop, The Terminator, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie among others.
  • In Canada, some VHS releases from this company show the Cineplex Odeon Video logo before this logo, even some from MCEG Virgin including Slipstream.
  • Likewise on some VHS releases in Argentina, the Transmundo Home Video would appear before this logo and MCEG's on PAL VHS releases.
  • In the UK, the MCEG logo is also seen before this (International) logo on some VHS releases from 1989 until its rebranding in 1992.
  • It is also seen on the Canadian VHS release of Communion, after the Cineplex Odeon Home Video logo and before the MCEG Virgin logo.
  • The standard logo is also seen on early U.S. releases through Continental Video before Virgin Vision started.
  • The standard logo is also seen on the 1986 UK VHS releases of Fraggle Rock: Red Handed & The Invisible Thief, The Muppets: Kermit and Fozzies Favourites, The Muppets: Gonzo Presents Muppet Weird Stuff, and The Muppets: The Kermit and Piggy Story, the 1987 UK VHS release of Paddington’s Birthday Bonanza (1986), the 1988 UK VHS releases of Cat Care, Dog Care, Super Gardening, A Guide to Home Decoration, The Adventures Of Tintin: Destination Moon/Explorers On the Moon, Paddington Goes to the Movies (1980), and The Care Bears Family: The Cloud of Uncaring, the 1989 UK VHS releases of The Adventures Of Tintin: The Calculus Case and The Little Green Man: 1, the 1990 UK VHS releases of Jingle Bell Foolin, King Rollo, The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. Benn, and The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987), and the 1992 UK VHS release of My Favourite Nursery Rhymes, respectively, among others.
  • It can also be found on several early releases from Watershed Pictures, such as The Best Children's TV series and Bleep and Booster, among others.
Virgin Video
M.C.E.G. Virgin Home Entertainment
Vision Video Ltd.
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