Background: Orion Pictures was formed as the "Orion Pictures Company" in March 1978 as a joint venture between Warner Bros. Pictures and three former executives of United Artists Pictures: Arthur B. Krim, Eric Pleskow and Robert S. Benjamin. When the studio was formed, they produced films that would be released by Warner Bros. In 1982, Orion bought Filmways, Inc., after Orion was unhappy with distribution agreements with Warner Bros. In June 1982, Filmways Pictures was reincorporated as "Orion Pictures Corporation". In 1983, Orion introduced Orion Classics as an art-house division. On May 22, 1986, Metromedia purchased a minor stake in the studio and later purchased 67% of the studio on May 20, 1988. In the late 1980s, Orion began to struggle financially and would declare bankruptcy on December 11, 1991. In 1996, Orion Pictures under Metromedia acquired Samuel Goldwyn Entertainment. On April 11, 1997, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. acquired Metromedia's film studios (Orion, Goldwyn and the Motion Picture Corporation of America) and the deal was closed in July. A year later, Orion was folded into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Motion Picture Corporation of America separated from MGM to become independent. Orion survived as an in-name-only unit of MGM during that time frame. In 2013, MGM relaunched the Orion Pictures brand for use on genre films, which will run theatrical and multi platform campaigns. Currently, most of Orion's post-1982 films are owned by MGM (with Orion retaining the copyright). Warner Bros. continues to own all pre-1982 films, select films that they released afterwards (although MGM/Orion does own two Orion films they released after the initial deal, A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy and Zelig) and films produced by The Saul Zaentz Company, StudioCanal owns First Blood through producer Carolco Pictures, HBO Films owns most distribution rights to Three Amigos and Lionsgate Films owns films produced by LIVE Entertainment. Films produced by Nelson Entertainment and Hemdale Film Corporation were originally distributed by Orion and became owned by MGM (with Orion holding the copyright) after MGM purchased the pre-March 31, 1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library.
1st Logo (April 27, 1979-December 18, 1981) Edit
Nicknames: "Red/Blue Split", "Splitting Rectangles", "The Orion/Warner Bros. Combo"
Logo: On a black screen, two rectangles, one blue and one orange, each one tilted forward at a 45 degree angle (making them appear like the floor and ceiling of a tunnel), shoot out towards the center of the screen. When they both connect at the center of the screen, they tilt back 45 degrees, so that they are facing the viewer completely, and enlarge to fill the screen. In the blue rectangle, which is on the top, we see the \\' logo and the words "WARNER BROS" in orange. In the orange rectangle, which is on the bottom, we see the words "ORION (in their trademark font) PICTURES COMPANY (in a more plain font)" in blue. After a while, the blue and orange rectangles move to each others spot, briefly overlapping. "A WARNER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY" and "present" fade-in under "WARNER BROS".
- On the 1981 Warner Home Video VHS release of Time After Time, the color scheme is brighter and is zoomed in.
- On the trailer for Zelig, the logo appears in red and black rather than orange and blue.
- At the end of the credits, we see the text "AN ORION PICTURES /WARNER BROS RELEASE" with "ORION" in its trademark logo font and "WARNER BROS" in its 1972 font from the theatrical logo. We see the byline,"Thru WARNER BROS, A Warner Communications Company", with the Warner Communications \\' logo in between the name and the company byline.
- Another variant looks close to the opening logo, but has a red stripe on a blue background, inside which it has "WARNER BROS. ORION PICTURES COMPANY"; below which is "Thru", with the "\\'" to the right, and the Warner Communications byline below (all company names are in their trademark fonts as with the regular closing variant).
FX/SFX: The tilting and sliding.
Cheesy Factor: The colors used don't go together very well and the animation is rough.
Music/Sounds: Usually silent or the opening theme of the theme.
Availability: Near extinction, due to chronic plastering by the original version (the version with the Warner Communications byline) of the next logo. Seen on the original Warner VHS and Betamax releases of Monty Python's Life of Brian, Time After Time, Prince of the City, Sharky's Machine, Arthur, Wolfen (also intact on a 1992 HBO broadcast), The Great Santini, and Caddyshack, along with a TV Land airing of the latter and AMC airings of former. The only known DVD release that preserves this logo is Prince of the City. The second closing variant is available on early home video prints of Arthur.
Scare Factor: Low. The animation can get to some.
2nd Logo (1979-1997, October 4, 2013-) Edit
Nicknames: "The Constellation", "Starry Sky", "Orion", "The Super Scary Constellation"
Logo: We first see a starry sky, then a constellation of stars (in the shape of Orion, appropriately) in the middle shine brighter than the rest. It moves to the left, forms a circle, and spins around until, in a small, but bright flash, it forms a letter "O." Then the letters "RION" appear (by a sliding effect) to complete the logo, which is stylized when a line is drawn across it. The traces of the line remain on the left side of each letter except the "I," which has the line across the word. "An" and "PICTURES RELEASE" all in light blue appear above and below the logo accordingly.
- This logo was parodied in the Family Guy season 8 episode "April in Quahog", where Adam West punches the constellation ("Take that Orion!") to form the logo without the additional text and with a little synth jingle. Adam responds "That's right, all you are is a failed production company!
- On the 2002 MGM DVD release of UHF, if you listen to the commentary, it has "Weird" Al Yankovic sing lyrics to the jingle ("Orion, Orion is bankrupt now!"). This references how Orion nearly killed themselves by releasing the eventual cult classic the same year that many popular franchises were releasing new films. It became ironic when the studio was relaunched in 2013.
- On films from 1980 to 1982, under the logo itself, there was a byline that said "Thru WARNER BROS, A Warner Communications Company", with a little \\' next to the company name and the Warner byline underneath. Sometimes centered or off-centered. After Orion purchased Filmways, the logo was freeze-framed to hide the Warner Bros. references.
- On a VHS of First Blood, the logo has a green tint and appears to be compressed (stretched to fill 4:3). In the case of the latter, it was most likely due to the anamorphic widescreen ratio of the film not being uncompressed.
- Starting with Desperately Seeking Susan, there is a registered trademark symbol "®" that appears next to the Orion name.
- Another version reads "PICTURES INTERNATIONAL" below the logo; "INTERNATIONAL" replaces "RELEASE".
- Starting in 1984 on trailers, the logo is close up and begins from the stars spinning to form the "O", but, instead of the words "An" and "PICTURES RELEASE" fading in, the words "COMING FROM" (in a larger font) and "PICTURES CORPORATION" fade in above and below the logo respectively.
- Starting in 1986, an updated version with the words in blue and smaller size was used.
- On some trailers (Bull Durham for example), the Orion logo fades out and the words "PREVIEW" and "COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU" fades in.
- On the trailer for Gorky Park, right before the announcer states the actors in the movie, a screen is shown with "ORION PICTURES PRESENTS" with the announcer reading the words.
- On Three Amigos, after this logo fades, "IN ASSOCIATION WITH (in the same style as "An" and "PICTURES RELEASE" on the standard logo) HOME BOX OFFICE (in a bold, white font)" fades in.
- On 1980s syndication prints of Green Acres, a shortened version of this logo is seen that starts with the "O" forming "RION".
- Orion Home Video releases would have either of that company's logos merge into this logo.
- Some Italian films distributed by Orion use a special variant in that language where "CDI" replaces "Orion" and "COMPAGNIA DISTRIBUZIONE INTERNAZIONALE" appears underneath.
- Starting in 2018, the logo is slightly updated: here the "PICTURES RELEASE" text is replaced with simply "PICTURES" and there is now an MGM byline. Oddly enough, the freeze-frame, which was designed to hide the Warner Bros. references, remains on this version.
Closing Variant: The end of each film would say just the same as the opening logo, but on a black background of the end credits. From 1980 to 1982, the text and byline were in bold and in all capital letters in the same font used on the Warner Bros. "Big W" logo. Sometimes the entire text's in one line without the byline. On Just Between Friends, the text is yellow.
FX/SFX: The constellation and "Orion" forming. The animation looks really good more than 35 years later.
Cheesy Factor: The way that the logo has a freeze-frame starting in 1982 seems to be basic, but the logo still looks very good for its time. However, it's quite odd that this logo was revived instead of the next logo, since the next logo is an update that holds up even better; it's likely because this logo has remained more popular than the next. On some trailers, the way the "Coming Soon" was chyroned in would look poorly inserted via a VHS text generator. Also, the byline in the 2018 revision is too big!
Music/Sounds: Most of the time it is silent, or in many cases the opening theme of the film is heard. However, on films such as The Terminator, Monkey Shines, Dances with Wolves, Meet the Feebles, The Magic Store, Christmas Balls, UHF, Rock and Crow and Every Day, a jingle consisting of futuristic-sounding series of chimes combined with a majestic horn fanfare after the stars merge is heard. This fanfare was composed by Leland Bond.
- On the Kino Lorber DVD and Blu-ray of The Falcon and The Snowman, the fanfare from the next logo is heard! This is due to a reverse plaster error as the 1999 DVD had the 3rd logo, jingle and all!
- On some foreign dub tracks of The Terminator, the logo is heard with part of the jingle of the 4th Hemdale logo! This oddity is said to be on some Region 2/4 DVDs with foreign tracks that are culled from the Hemdale owned 1990s master.
- On The Plum Landing movie 2, the fanfare is played on a keyboard.
Availability: Common. The byline-less version is preserved on most 1982 to 1995 films (usually with the MGM logo), such as The Silence of the Lambs, The Terminator (although the 1991 Hemdale Home Video VHS and 1995 Image Entertainment Laserdisc releases plaster this logo with the Hemdale Film Corporation logo), Madhouse, Bull Durham, the original Robocop trilogy, Hoosiers, Mississippi Burning, Platoon, UHF, Three Amigos, Dances with Wolves, and both Bill & Ted films, among others. The earlier variant with the Warner Bros. byline first appeared on the 1980 WCI Home Video VHS and Betamax release of 10 to plaster the previous logo, and was also seen on theatrical releases of the time frame (in tandem with the previous logo). This version plasters the previous logo on current releases of 1979 to 1981 films such as Caddyshack,The Great Santini, Sharky's Machine and Wolfen, among others. On First Blood, it was preserved on the 1983 Thorn EMI Video VHS release and the 1984 Thorn EMI/HBO Video VHS reprint. This logo is usually removed from current prints of Split Image (the first film to feature this logo without the Warner Bros. byline) and instead go straight to the PolyGram logo. The R-rated Director's Cut version of Amadeus plasters this logo with the 2001 Warner Bros. logo, since Orion only handled theatrical distribution in the United States and Warner Bros. owns the film via The Saul Zaentz Company. It is intact on some releases of the original Theatrical Cut, such as the Pioneer Entertainment Widescreen Laserdisc release and the 1997 WB R1 DVD release. Some syndicated TV airings of No Way Out plasters this with the next logo, although it is retained on the R1 DVD release and possibly the Blu-ray. The trailer variants can be found on some theatrical or teaser trailers on DVD releases, such as on The Terminator and UHF (the latter is only on the widescreen side). The International and Italian variants are extremely rare, due to most current releases using domestic prints. The latter can be seen on the 1989 IVE VHS release of Domino. The shortened version could be seen at the end of Green Acres reruns as late as the mid-2000s. The studio produced several films in 1991 that were not released until 1994, such as China Moon. The Orion Home Video was seen on VHS releases of the studio's material from the company (but not on material licensed to the company). When the studio was restarted in 2013, it made its debut on Grace Unplugged (which was co-produced with Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions and was the first film released under the rebooted studio). Later, it appeared on the Brazilian film Vestido pra Casar (translated as Dressed to Marry), and other recent films from the revived company.
Scare Factor: Low to nightmare. The "O" appearing and the fanfare will probably scare a lot of people.
3rd Logo (January 1, 1997-1999) Edit
Nicknames: "The CGI Constellation", "CGI Starry Sky", "The Constellation II", "Starry Sky II", "Orion II"
Logo: Very much the same as the previous logo, but updated with 1990s computer effects. The starfield behind the logo no longer zooms-out as the logo forms, but shoots out towards the screen. The animation is the same, but the stars now have a "trail" that forms the "O", and the forming of the actual logo, including a laser light, forming the line in the logo, is different. The logo itself is now silvery and 3D, and only "PICTURES" appears below the logo in the same font as last time. Inside the "Orion" text has an animated landscape.
Variant: There is a black and white variant of this logo on American International Pictures films in black and white.
FX/SFX: Now that's what we call a logo update! A suitable successor to the previous "Starry Sky", the computer animation looks very good, even today.
Music/Sounds: An ascending cycle of strings that repeats alongside a horn tune. As the logo begins to form, it picks up tempo, culminating in a majestic hit and a 3-note sounder. This theme was composed by John Pratt. Otherwise, it's none or the opening theme of the film is heard.
Availability: Uncommon. Can be found on the studio's (limited) output of films from this period until its original demise in 1999, such as The Locusts, City of Industry, Gang Related, and Ulee's Gold. Like the previous logo, the MGM logo precedes this logo on most current prints. It can also be seen on DVD releases and television airings of a few American International Pictures films, such as Coffy, Hell Up In Harlem, and Bucktown. This also plasters the Filmways Pictures logo on the MGM DVD release of Blow Out and it is seen on current prints of the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again (meaning it was not produced by Eon Productions, the production company of the series), by plastering the Warner Bros. "Big W" logo, including the 2001 MGM/UA United Kingdom VHS release, MGM DVD releases, and Netflix's (deleted) streaming print. Some prints of Orion films distributed by MGM plastered the previous logo with the this logo, such as No Way Out and The Falcon and The Snowman. Also seen on international prints of One Man's Hero (Orion's final film until they were reactivated in 2013). The Stargate television movie pilot also had this logo.
Scare Factor: None. Like the previous logo, it's a favorite of many. Although not as popular, it's still a great logo to go out with a bang on.