Universal Pictures

by John Rooney


Universal Pictures logo

Universal Pictures logo [17]  

Location: 100 Universal Plaza, Universal City, California 91608

Web: http://www.universalpictures.com


Universal Pictures, Inc. was founded in 1912 by filmmaking partners Carl Laemmle and Robert Cochrane.  As the oldest American film studio, Universal maintains its status as a powerhouse in the world of movie production and distribution. The studio is part of NBCUniversal, which is altogether owned by Comcast. [1] In its over one-hundred years of history, the studio has produced dozens of beloved classics such as Jurassic Park, E.T. and Jaws. 

Key Executives  [2]   

Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures

Donna Langley, Chairman Universal Pictures

Donna Langley, Chairman Universal Pictures [2]  

Promoted to chairman in September of 2013, Langley has the task of overseeing all film production for Universal Pictures and Focus Features.

Jeff Shell, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment

Jeff Shell, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment

Jeff Shell, Chairman,
Universal Filmed Entertainment [2] 

Shell took over in September of 2013.  He came from Comcast, where he previously was the head of Universal International.  He is in charge of worldwide operations for the film studio.

Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal

Ron Meyer - www.nbcumv.com

Ron Meyer – www.nbcumv.com [2]  

Also appointed in September of 2013, Meyer’s job is to oversee all operations and planning for the company from films to theme parks.


Universal finished 2013 in third place in terms of revenue, just behind Warner Brothers and Disney.  The studio also saw its largest worldwide revenue ever, $3.67 billion ($1.42 billion domestic, $2.25 billion international).  This was a considerable increase from the $3.13 billion the studio made in 2012.   Films such as Identity Thief, The Purge, and Mama helped the studio achieve such success. [3]

In 2013, Universal broke the $2 billion revenue mark in the international market for the first time ever.  Fast & Furious 6, another huge film for Universal, opened at number one in 65 international territories and gave the studio it biggest opening weekend ever.  Other films such as Despicable Me 2 and Oblivion helped throw Universal into the global spotlight. [4]


For years, some of Universal’s main competition has been other large film studios such as Disney, Warner Brothers, Fox, and CBS. [5] However, another large area of competition for Universal and other film companies is movie and TV streaming software such as Netflix and Hulu.  A consumers ability to stream content online from a subscribed service is sure to hurt DVD sales.  Additionally, online streaming companies have been making all sorts of business ventures in order to create and sell their own original content. [6] 

Recent Film Releases


Good Neighboors

Neighbors [7]  

An R-rated comedy from Good Universe, Neighbors is a hilarious account of a young husband and father’s struggles to peacefully coexist with a reckless group of fraternity brothers.  The film stars Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, with Rose Byrne and Dave Franco in supporting roles.  It was directed by Nicholas Stoller, who is famous for other projects such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to The Greek.  The film received positive reviews for the most part, earning a 73% from the top critics at “Rotten Tomatoes”. [7]

The movie opened on May 9, 2014.  It saw a successful first weekend with opening revenue at about $49 million.  The film raked in about $150 million domestically and $180 million internationally, with a total gross of over $286 million. [8]   

The Purge: Anarchy


The Purge: Anarchy  [9] 

A sequel to the 2013 thriller The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy follows a group of diner employees as they fight to survive the annual “Purge”, a night where all crime is legal across America.  Written and directed by James DeMonaco, the film stars Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, and Zach Gilford.  The film received mixed reviews, with critic’s complaints focused mainly on flaws in the writing. [9] 

The film was released on July 18, 2014 and saw an opening weekend revenue of nearly $30 million.  It earned nearly $72 million domestically and about $38 million internationally, for a total of almost $111 million in revenue.  In comparison to its predecessor, The Purge: Anarchy did not open as strongly, but earned about $22 million more in total revenue. [10] 

Dumb and Dumber To


Dumb Dumber To [11]  

The long awaited sequel to the 1994 Farrelly Brothers comedy Dumb and Dumber, Dumb and Dumber To presents the mindless antics of Harry and Lloyd once again as they set out on a mission to find Harry’s daughter.  The film stars the comedy duo of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels and was directed by J.B. Rodgers and Bobby Farrelly.  The movie has not fared very well with critics in its first two weeks, with many saying that its brand of humor is not as fun and fresh as it used to be. [11]

 The first Dumb and Dumber was wildly successful for Universal, snagging over $247 million worldwide. It’s prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd was a huge box office flop, earning just over $39 million.  Universal has commonly found success in sequels and film franchises. Dumb and Dumber To opened on November 14, 2014 in 3,154 theaters with an opening revenue of just over $36 million, giving it the #1 spot for the weekend.  Thus far the film has made $67 million in the U.S. and $20 million in the international box office, adding up for a total of almost $88 million. [12] 

What’s Next From Universal Pictures

Fifty Shades of Grey

50 shades of gay

50 Shades of Grey [13]  

Based on the wildly popular  romance novel of the same name, Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of the masochistic relationship between a wealthy business man and one of his young female employees.  The movie stars James Dornan and Dakota Johnson and is directed by Sam Taylor-Wood. The Focus Features film has completed production, and it set to make its wide release on February 13, 2015. [13]




Jurassic World


Jurassic World  [14] 

Universal hopes to continue its trend of successful sequels and film franchises with Jurassic World, the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series.  It will be starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, with Colin Trevorrow as director and Steven Spielberg as executive producer.  The film has been in development since 2001, and was originally set to be called Jurassic Park IV.  Shooting began last April in locations such as Hawaii and New Orleans.  The movie is currently in post-production and editing, and is set to release on June 12, 2015. [14] 




Warcraft Poster  [15]  

In 2016, Universal will be adapting a video game to film for the first time in its history.  Based on World of Warcraft, an immensely popular online gaming program, Warcraft is set to be an epic fantasy tale of good versus evil.  The film has been in development since 2006 and is currently in production.  British film star Toby Kebbel and Paula Patton have been casted as two of the lead roles. The movie will have its wide release on March 11, 2016. [15]  



Steve Jobs Biography Film

On November 25, 2014, Universal bought the rights from Sony Corporation to produce a biography film on Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs.  It all be based on a biography by author Walter Isaacson entitled “Steve Jobs”. [16] 



[1] http://www.history.com/news/the-renegade-roots-of-hollywood-studios

 [2] http://deadline.com/2013/09/shocker-adam-fogelson-out-in-universal-shakeup-582309/


 [4] http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/news/109124-universal-pictures-crosses-2b-mark-at-the-overseas-box-office-for-the-first-time

[5] http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/cs/competition.Universal_Studios_Inc.7a0e7231fca927ed.html

[6] http://money.cnn.com/2011/07/08/technology/netflix_starz_contract/

[7] http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/neighbors_2014/

[8] http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=townies.htm

 [9] http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_purge_anarchy_2014/?search=the%20purge%20anarchy

[10] http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=purge2.htm

 [11] http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dumb_and_dumber_to/

 [12] http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=dumberto.htm

[13] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2322441/

[14] http://www.jurassicworld.org

[15] http://www.warcraft-themovie.com

[16] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-25/universal-pictures-acquires-jobs-film-from-sony-corp.html

 [17] http://www.universalpictures.com


by Isaac Davis

Formed in 2008 with the merging of Activision and Vivendi Games, Activision Blizzard is the second-largest video game publisher in North America.

Board of Directors
Robert A. Kotick – President and CEO
Jean-Bernard Lévy – Chairman
Brian G. Kelly – Co-Chairman
Philippe G. H. Capron – Director
Robert J. Corti – Director
Frédéric R. Crépin – Director
Lucian Grainge – Director
Robert J. Morgado – Director
Stéphane Roussel – Director
Richard Sarnoff – Director
Régis Turrini – Director

Notable Franchises

  • Call of Duty
  • Guitar Hero
  • Tony Hawk
  • Skylanders
  • Spiderman
  • James Bond
  • Warcraft
  • Starcraft
  • Diablo

Business (January 2012 – May 2012)
Activision Blizzard’s past fiscal year was “better than expected,” earning $4.49 billion, as opposed to $4.48 billion in 2010. Their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the top-selling title of the year, with its accompanying Call of Duty Elite service hosting over 7 million registered users and 1.5 million paid subscribers. The new Skylanders toy line/children’s game proved quite successful, selling 20 million toys worldwide1.

World of Warcraft (WoW), however, declined from 11.1 million subscribers to 10.2 million this year, with at least some of the decline being attributed to competitor Electronic ArtsStar Wars: The Old Republic, which released in December 20112.

Following this news, WoW’s development studio, Blizzard Entertainment laid off 600 employees in an “organizational shift,” placing their current staff at around 5,000 worldwide3.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick

In February, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick became a member of Coca-Cola’s board of directors. He had previously been a board member at Yahoo! from 2003 to 20084.

On March 5th, Activision hired Dennis Durkin, former VP and COO of Microsoft, as their new CFO5.

On April 5th, Worlds, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over the technology used in WoW and Call of Duty (CoD). Worlds holds patents on a “system and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space”, and they had, in 2008, filed a lawsuit against NCSoft over their game City of Heroes, though it was dismissed in 20106.

Infinity Ward Controversy

After the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009, Jason West and Vince Zampella, CEOs and co-founders of CoD development studio Infinity Ward, were fired under mysterious circumstances. Infinity Ward and all CoD IP has been owned by Activision since 2003. Activision claims they were fired over “breaches of contract and insubordination”7.

West and Zampella filed a lawsuit against Activision, leveling at least two fraud claims against them. The claims said that in firing them, Activision “fired them to avoid paying millions of dollars in royalties for [Modern Warfare 2]”. On March 5th 2012, one of these claims was dismissed by the California Superior Court. May 7th is the trial date for the remaining claims8.

On March 26th, Robert Bowling, creative strategist for the CoD series, suddenly left Activision after six years as the public face of the brand, with no indication of why he left or where he was headed9. On April 24th, he revealed that he is starting a new, independent development studio called Robotoki. Their first project is slated for “next-gen” consoles (that is, game systems yet to be announced)10.

Release Schedule (2012)
Prototype 2 (Radical Entertainment) – April 24 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Diablo III (Blizzard Entertainment) – May 15 (PC, Mac OS X)
Battleship (Double Helix Games) – May 15 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, 3DS, DS)
The Amazing Spider-Man (Beenox) – June 26 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS Vita 3DS, DS)
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD (Robomodo) – July (PS3, Xbox 360)
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (High Moon Studios) – August 28 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Skylanders: Giants (Toys For Bob) – Fall (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, PC 3DS, Mac OS X)
Call of Duty 9 [Working Title] (Treyarch) – Q4 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U, PS Vita, 3DS)


  1. Curtis, Tom. “Activision Blizzard reports better than expected 2011 thanks to MW3, Skylanders”. Gamasutra.
  2. Rose, Mike. “Blizzard: Drop in WoW subs ‘attributable’ to Star Wars: The Old Republic”. Gamasutra.
  3. Caoili, Eric. “Blizzard cuts 600 employees in organizational shift”. Gamasutra.
  4. Curtis, Tom. “Activision CEO Bobby Kotick joins Coca-Cola’s board of directors”. Gamasutra.
  5. Hinkle, David. “Activision hires ex-Microsoft CFO Dennis Durkin”. Joystiq.
  6. Curtis, Tom. World of WarcraftCall of Duty accused of violating virtual worlds patent”. Gamasutra.
  7. Thorsen, Tor. “Top Infinity Ward devs fired for ‘insubordination,’ lawsuits ‘expected'”. Gamespot.
  8. Pettersson, Edvard. “Activision Wins Dismissal of One of Two Former Executives’ Fraud Claims”. Bloomberg.
  9. Navarro, Alex. “Robert Bowling Unexpectedly Announces He is Exiting Activision”. Giant Bomb.
  10. Reilly, Jim. “Robert Bowling Opens Game Studio”. Game Informer.

Picture Credits