Universal Pictures

By Luke Lamble
Universal Pictures logo

Universal Pictures logo

History

Founded in 1912, Universal Pictures, Inc. is the oldest American movie studio and continues to be a leader in the world of motion picture production and distribution. [1] In 2004, General Electric bought Universal Pictures. [2] GE sold all of its control of Universal in 2011 to the cable provider, Comcast, creating NBCUniversal.  Universal Pictures still operates as the movie production subsidiary. [3] In 2012 alone, Universal has produced a diverse selection of award-winning movies such as the film production of Les Misérables and the comedy hit, Ted. [4]

Key Executives [5]

Ron Meyer (www.nbcumv.com)

Ron Meyer (nbcumv.com)

Ron Meyer – Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal

Meyer served as President and COO of Universal Pictures since 1995 before being made Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal in September 2013.  He currently oversees all facets of the company, while still managing its portfolio of film assets amongst others

Donna Langley (nbcumv.com)

Donna Langley (nbcumv.com)

Donna Langley – Chairman, Universal Pictures

Langley began working at Universal in 2001 as the senior vice president of production.  After being named Chairman of Universal Pictures in September 2013, she assumed the role of overseeing the production and distribution of the company’s feature films.

Suzanne Cole (nbcumv.com)

Suzanne Cole (nbcumv.com)

Suzanne Cole – Executive VP, Media, Universal Pictures

Since the beginning of her tenure at Universal Pictures, the studio has experienced some of its most lucrative successes.  Because of this success, Cole was named Executive Vice President of Media in 2008.  She now oversees all strategic activities for the marketing and distribution of the studio’s feature films.

Financials (all numbers in millions)

Recent years have been good for Universal Pictures and its parent NBCUniversal.  From 2011 to 2012, revenue for NBCUniversal grew by almost $5,000, from $19,028 to $23,812.  Filmed entertainment was responsible for approximately 21% of the total revenue in 2012, generating $5,159.  That was up from $4,239 generated by Universal Pictures in 2011. [6]

NBCUniversal logo

NBCUniversal logo

In regards to how Universal Pictures measured up against the five other major movie studios, so far in 2013, Universal holds a 14.6% market share amongst all the studios, placing it second behind Warner Brothers.  This year Universal Pictures has grossed $1,329.3 from the release of 13 movies. [7]

Competition

The main concern for NBCUniversal and Universal Pictures right now is the new technologies that are affecting traditional media production and distribution methods.  This is referring mainly to companies like Netflix and Hulu that syndicate video programming online.  A growing concern is that these companies and others like them are beginning to create and obtain their own original content. [8]

Recent Film Releases

Universal Pictures has developed a reputation for having great success with movie franchises with such iconic franchises such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and the Bourne series. [9] In 2013, Universal stuck with this trend and reaped the benefits of new installments in the Despicable Me and Fast & Furious series, amongst an eclectic mix of other successful films. [10]

The Best Man Holiday

A sequel to 1999’s The Best Man, The Best Man Holiday picks right up with the old college friends from the The Best Man, as they all reconvene for some Christmas celebrations.  Amidst all the fun times, sparks of old romances begin to rekindle and old rivalries that had faded away over time arise again.  Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, and Regina Hall star in this quintessential holiday comedy-drama written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee. [11]

The Best Man Holiday (vibe.com)

The Best Man Holiday (vibe.com)

Released on November 15, 2013, in just three days The Best Man Holiday has nearly doubled its budget so far, bringing in $32,536,350.  That’s also $6.5 million over the $24 million it was projected to earn. [12] Tagged as “just another black comedy,” The Best Man Holiday has not only offered more evidence that generally black films can succeed, but that this is no typical movie by any sense, except for the fact that it is generally crowd-pleasing.  (No particular race or age group dominantly represents itself in the film’s audience demographics).  In fact, CinemaScore even gave the movie an A+, an extremely rare feat for any film. [13]

Despicable Me 2

Gru (Steve Carell), a former master villain, has settled into family life after adopting and coming to love his three daughters, but peace and quiet is not lasting for the villain-turned-hero, as he is called upon to save the world from a new super-villain.  And just as the world needs Gru’s help, so does his eldest daughter who has fallen for a classic bad-boy and an inevitable source of heartbreak.  Kristen Wiig and Benjamin Bratt star alongside Carell in this story of one former villain’s attempt to be a hero for the world and for his own family. [14]

Despicable Me 2 (ropeofsilicon.com)

Despicable Me 2 (ropeofsilicon.com)

 

The original Despicable Me (2010) was a tremendous release for Universal, ranking seventh all-time amongst its highest grossing movies by bringing in $251,513,985 domestically.  On July 3, 2013, Despicable Me 2 was released and has shattered that record, becoming the all-time highest grossing movie for Universal Pictures with $365,943,520 of domestic revenue.  This income has far surpassed the film’s production budget of $76 million, and that’s not even factoring in its performance in the worldwide box office.  To the delight of the studio, 60.1% of the movie’s total revenue came from foreign releases, grossing $550,100,000 worldwide.  All in all, Despicable Me 2 has brought in $916,043,520 for Universal Studios, and subsequently, is still playing in 305 theaters across the U.S. [15]

Fast & Furious 6

The very CIA agent who has been trying to track them down in order to defeat a new crew of criminal drivers who are causing chaos in twelve countries across the world calls upon refugees of the law.  In an effort to be pardoned from the charges against themselves, Dom and Brian (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker) get their old gang of expert drivers back together to take to the streets of London and defeat these mercenary drivers.  Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson star in this pedal-to-the-metal thriller. [16]

Fast & Furious 6 (teaser-trailer.com)

Fast & Furious 6 (teaser-trailer.com)

The sixth film in the Fast & Furious series was the most successful installment to date for the studio, becoming its ninth highest grossing film of all time, and reaping in the most revenue of all the Fast & Furious films. Fast & Furious 6 generated $238,679,850 for Universal, making it the second highest grossing film of 2013 behind Despicable Me 2.  In the worldwide box office, Fast & Furious 6 brought in another $550 million, bringing its total gross to a lofty $788,659,850.  Given the $160 million budget, Universal Pictures had another major box office winner with this film. [17]

What’s to Come from Universal Studios

Fast & Furious 7

Fast & Furious 7 (hitfix.com)

Fast & Furious 7 (hitfix.com)

Just a little over a year after Fast & Furious 6 came out, the seventh is already on its way, slated for a July, 2014 release date.  This time, the brother of the defeated world-criminal from Fast & Furious 6 has come onto the scene seeking revenge for his brother’s death. [18]

Ted 2

Ted 2 (collider.com)

Ted 2 (collider.com)

Universal Pictures also has plans to release the sequel to its wildly successful, raucous comedy Ted.  However, Universal did not produce the original, but acquired the rights to it and distributed it as a Universal Pictures film.  Despite not having the rights yet, the studio is confident it will be able to secure them and go forward with production of the sequel. [19]

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

[1] Universal Pictures History

[2] NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment Unite to Create NBC Universal

[3] Comcast Completes Acquisition of GE’s 49% Stake In NBCUniversal

[4] About Universal Pictures

[5] NBCUniversal Film Executives

[6] NBCUniversal 2012 Annual Report

[7] 2013 Studio Market Shares

[8] NBCUniversal 2012 Annual Report

[9] Movie Franchises by Studio

[10] Universal Pictures’ 2013 Movie Releases

[11] The Best Man Holiday Plot Summary

[12] The Best Man Holiday Box Office Performance

[13] The Best Man Holiday Performance Analysis

[14] Despicable Me 2 Plot Summary

[15] Despicable Me 2 Box Office Performance

[16] Fast & Furious 6 Plot Summary

[17] Fast & Furious 6 Box Office Performance

[18] Dwayne Johnson Tweets Fast & Furious 7 Photo

[19] Ted 2 Scheduled Release

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