Paramount is the oldest and largest Hollywood studio and is now part of Viacom. She owns many successful media franchises (Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, The Godfather) and box office films (Titanic, Forrest Gump, Transformers, Iron Man). Its history began in 1912 when the owner of the cinema chain Adolph Zukor founded the Famous Players Film Company. Around the same time, the Lasky Feature Play Company was born. They distributed their films through distributor Paramount Pictures Corporation and then merged with him to form the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. The merger took place in 1916. Since then, the studio has been renamed several times and even went bankrupt but was able to return to service with the help of Viacom.
Meaning and History
Paramount Pictures is as old as the movie theater. She has come a long way from making films for immigrant workers to a film industry giant who bought DreamWorks and became the owner of luxury hotels with private cinemas. For a hundred years, Hollywood has introduced new film production technologies; modern styles have come into fashion. But one thing hasn’t changed – the Paramount logo has retained its classic structure.
The image of a pyramidal mountain in a ring of stars is as familiar to moviegoers as the planet of Universal Pictures, the lion of MGM, the magic castle of Disney, and the blue-and-gold shield of Warner Brothers. The snow-covered mountain peak had opened films since the days of silent cinema when the technology of synchronous filming did not exist.
Paramount’s iconic symbol is one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic. Few know where it came from and what it means. The majestic view of the mountain was designed by William Wadsworth Hodkinson, who funded the films and received exclusive distribution rights. It was Hodkinson who initiated the merger of the companies that formed the modern film studio and insisted that it be called Paramount, not Famous Players. He sketched the logo on blotting paper while sitting in the boardroom with producer Adolph Zukor. The businessman depicted the mountain in a star halo, and modern cinema fans began to look for hidden meaning in it.
The biggest concern for fans was where this mountain peak might be. The most common version was that Hodkinson drew Ben Lomond Peak from Utah from memory. He had been there as a child when he camped nearby. But there were other assumptions as well. Someone believed that the peaks of Monte Viso (in the Alps) or Mount Artesonraju (in Peruvian Andes) were immortalized on the emblem.
The Paramount Pictures logo has been subtly changing. The fog dissipated around the mountain, and clouds thickened, which then also disappeared. The background was changed several times until it became one color. And the number of stars in the halo gradually decreased from 29 to 22. As a result of evolution, the symbol has an animated version with a 3D design.
1914 – 1918
Paramount-Artcraft Motion Pictures had an oval logo with a double black outline. It was decorated with a figure frame, which looked like carved patterns above and below. Inside was the name of the company, divided in half into two lines. The designers used a handwritten font. The first letters in words looked like calligraphy: they had elegant curls at the ends of the strokes. The style as a whole corresponded to the general concept of the emblems of that time.
In 1914, the Lasky Feature Play Company and the Famous Players Film Company partnered with distributor Paramount Pictures. His trademark was a crown with ten prongs on the hoop and a small cross on top. The word “Paramount” was written across the headgear. For this, a thin font was used, imitating calligraphic handwriting.
The second part of the name was on the lower rim – “PICTURES.” For her, a bold typeface with serifs was chosen. And under the crown, the artists depicted a scroll with the Latin saying “IN EXCELSIS.”
1914 – 1917
The original Paramount film studio logo debuted in films from the silent era. As far as we know from the archives, William Hodkinson created it in 1916 when he was discussing business issues with the former owner of the Famous Players company. He drew on blotting paper the first thing that came to mind: a mountain peak surrounded by stars. Childhood memories of Ben Lomond Peak may have inspired him.
Twenty-nine black five-pointed stars formed a halo around the edge of the circle with the words “Paramount.” The font has changed a bit: the capital “P” has spiral curls, while the rest of the letters have become thinner and more elegant. The upper half of the circle was painted black. The lower part contained an image of a mountain against a white spotted horizon. Across the snowy peak was the black word “Pictures,” written in the same style as “Paramount.” The bottom of the letter “P” was lost in the fog that spread around the mountain.
1917 – 1967
After a little refinement, the logo acquired clear contours. Five stars were removed, so the unbreakable chain broke up. Probably so wanted William Hodkinson, who considered the new design more successful. The font of the inscriptions has become neat and not sweeping. The shadows on the right side of the mountain disappeared, and the spots on the horizon turned into smooth horizontal lines. Swirling clouds replaced the mist.
1967 – today
The Paramount Pictures brand name did not change until the late 1960s. Then the film company decided to adapt it to fashionable minimalism and simplified the image. Two more stars disappeared from the halo, so there are only 22 of them. The mountain, which previously seemed voluminous due to uneven shadows, became two-dimensional. The round base is now black, so the white silhouette of the snowy peak is created using negative space. The same effect was used for the “Paramount” inscription, which received a new font. And the word “Pictures” disappeared altogether along with the clouds.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
It is still unknown why there were originally 29 stars and why their number was reduced to 22. Rumor has it that the semicircular constellation around the mountain used to denote actors who signed a contract with a film studio. But this assumption is not confirmed by anything because at the dawn of cinema, William Hodkinson did not sign agreements with anyone, and Paramount was engaged in distributing other people’s films.
In any case, the mountain peak with a halo of stars is one of the most famous symbols of Hollywood. It predates MGM’s roaring lion by nearly a decade and retains the basic design concept. The mountain personifies solidity, steadfastness, and durability. The stars, in turn, are an integral part of Hollywood and perform a decorative function in the emblem.
The first lettering on the Paramount Pictures logo was the same style as the Paramount-Artcraft Motion Pictures wordmark. The cursive type was considered very fashionable in that era. But time passed, and he gradually evolved until he acquired recognizable features.
The logo is made in the technique of filming: it seems that this is a frame from a movie of the 1930s. The color scheme is reminiscent of classic black and white cinematography.