Universal Studios or Universal Pictures or Universal City Studios is one of the largest American film studios. It was established in 1906 when Carl Laemmle started his first theater in Chicago. He started by playing short silent movies. He later switched to production and distribution. To start the production of his own films, he opened the Independent Moving Picture Company in New York in 1909. His first work, Hiawatha, was released in the same year.
Laemmle’s dream was to make his presence felt all over America. His next target was the west where he bought the Nestor Studio in Hollywood. He formed the Universal Film Manufacturing Company on June 8, 1912. This company which was New York based, incorporated the already existing Independent Moving Picture Company and five other companies into it. By that time he had already conquered the east and the west coast of America and now he decided to centralize his production companies. He asked Isadore Bernstein to buy plots in Los Angeles. The two hundred and thirty acre land bought became the Universal City, the entertainment center of the world. Although film production here began in 1914 and in 1915 it was officially inaugurated on March 15, 1915. The first production of this studio was Damon and Pythias. Many films were released after the studio opened including comedies, drama, action, and adventure.
Some of the popular movies that were produced in this studio are “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “Dracula”, “Bride of Frankenstein”,” The Phantom of the Opera”, “The Mummy”, and “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Laemmle developed a habit of inviting guests to watch the movie making procedure and to give suggestions to improve them. It then became a tradition at Universal studios, and later temporarily visitors were banned because of the disturbances on the sets.
Carl retired in 1936 and sold the company to Standard Capital Company. In 1946, Universal merged with International and it was named as Universal-International. In 1947, the company produced “Hamlet” which won the Best Picture Academy Award. In 1952, Universal-International was sold to Decca Records. Decca Universal gave many hits in Milt Rackmil. Music Corporation of America, Inc. bought the Universal City studio and shifted its studio there and both the companies merged officially in 1962. Jules Stein was the founder of MCA, Inc., who was later joined by Lew Wasseman in 1936. At first this company prepared bands to perform in clubs and parties. Later it became the leading talent agency and conquered the entertainment world. They made motion pictures and also serials for television. Later they also ventured into the world of musical entertainment around 1960s to 1980s. The tradition of tours was started once again.
The company was taken over by Matsushita Electrical Industrial Company Ltd. in 1991. The Seagram Company Ltd. Bought large number of shares in 1995 and MCA Inc. was finally named as Universal Studios on December 10, 1996. The Universal International television operations merged with USA Networks in 1998. At the end of the year the company took over PolyGram and Universal Music Group became the largest music company in the world. The Seagram collaborated with Vivendi and Canal in June 2000 and today Universal Studios is a part of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.