Happy 100th Birthday, Universal Studios
Today marks the 100th anniversary of Universal Studios. With the sheer number of classics that Universal has put out, it is unimaginable to think of what movies would be like today if they never had existed. They remain one of the benchmark names in Hollywood. To celebrate, Universal has released a list of 100 fun facts about their first century. Click here for the full list and check out some of the highlights below.
Universal Film Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Company legend says Carl Laemmle was inspired to name his company Universal after seeing “Universal Pipe Fittings” written on a passing delivery wagon.
The only physical damage made during the filming of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE was when John Belushi made a hole in the wall with a guitar. The actual Sigma Nu fraternity house (which subbed for the fictitious Delta House) never repaired it, and instead framed the hole in honor of the film.
In 1969, a then 22-year old Steven Spielberg was assigned to direct the Universal Television series pilot, Night Gallery. It’s safe to say things went pretty well for Steven after that.
The word “dude” in THE BIG LEBOWSKI is used approximately 161 times in the movie: 160 times spoken and once in text (in the credits for “Gutterballs” the second dream sequence). The F-word or a variation of the F-word is used 292 times. The Dude says “man” 147 times in the movie—that’s nearly 1.5 times a minute.
BACK TO THE FUTURE’s DeLorean time machine is actually a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says “OUTATIME,” the DeLorean’s actual license plate reads 3CZV657.
The film A BEAUTIFUL MIND was shot in sequence in order to help Russell Crowe better develop his character’s emotional and physical arc.
AMERICAN GRAFITTI’s budget was exactly $777,777.77, and it was delivered on time – and on budget.
The film BUCK PRIVATES took in $4 million at the U.S. Box Office (at a time when theater admission ranged between 10 and 25 cents).
According to reports, during some of the Russian roulette scenes in the movie THE DEER HUNTER, a live round was put into the gun to heighten the actors’ tension per Robert De Niro’s suggestion. It was checked, however, to make sure the bullet was not in the chamber before the trigger was pulled.
Carl Laemmle Jr. offered James Whale a list of more than 30 film adaptations he could direct and out of them all, Whale picked Frankenstein. It was his transition from war movies to monster pics.
Neither Michelle Rodriguez nor Jordana Brewster had drivers’ licenses or even learners’ permits before production of the film in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS.
Universal pioneered the Academy Award-winning Sensurround Sound System which made its first appearance in the 1974 movie, EARTHQUAKE. The Sensurround system caused low-frequency audio waves to be felt by the audience and created a visceral complement to the seismic tremors and destruction depicted on screen.
In the movie FIELD OF DREAMS, both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are among the thousands of extras in the Fenway Park scene. Over a decade later, when Phil Alden Robinson worked with Affleck on the production of THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, Affleck said, “Nice working with you again.”
In the infamous shower scene in PSYCHO, the sound of the knife-stabbing actress Janet Leigh was made by plunging a knife into a melon.
The film TRAFFIC IN SOULS is considered Universal’s first full-length feature film.
ET: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL is Universal Pictures’ all-time highest grossing film.
In 1995, WATERWORLD generated worldwide attention for being the most expensive film made to date. Unable to live up to expectations at the box office, the film eventually turned a profit due to strong home video sales and inspired one of the most popular theme park attractions of all time.
About 25% of the film JAWS was shot from water level so audiences could better relate to treading water.
Some of the props used in the 2005 version of KING KONG were original props from the 1933 version. These props came from Peter Jackson’s personal collection and include the Skull Island spears and brightly painted shield, and some of the drums from the sacrifice scene.
The script Charlton Heston holds in the film EARTHQUAKE as he’s running lines with Genevieve Bujold is actually the script for “Earthquake” and on the page of the scene being shot.
With the film MEET THE FOCKERS, the MPAA would not allow use of the name ‘Focker’ unless the filmmakers could find an actual person with that last name.
The first American film to show a toilet flushing on screen was PSYCHO.
While JURASSIC PARK was in post-production, Steven Spielberg began working on SCHINDLER’S LIST in Poland and worked via satellite, courtesy of technology provided by George Lucas.
Alfred Hitchcock did not choose to conclude the film, THE BIRDS, with the usual “THE END” title because he wanted to leave the audience with the feeling of unending terror and uncertainty.
Groucho Marx explained the title DUCK SOUP as follows: “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup the rest of your life.”
The children who sang the song, “Every Sperm is Sacred” in the Monty Python film, THE MEANING OF LIFE, later said they had no idea what sperm was or what they were singing about.
The average shot length in the film VERTIGO is 6.7 seconds.
When you hear the sound of the crowd cheering, “Spartacus! Spartacus!” in the movie SPARTACUS, it was actually a pre-taped recording from a 1959 football game at Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium.
The cake in the movie SIXTEEN CANDLES is made of cardboard.
The final speech by Gregory Peck in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was done in one take.
The diner in the movie THE STING is the same diner interior used in BACK TO THE FUTURE.
Yes, at some point, some Universal executive, or team of executives, thought 1986’s HOWARD THE DUCK was a good idea.
The title of the film STREETS OF FIRE starring Michael Paré and Diane Lane, was drawn from a Bruce Springsteen song, from his album Darkness on the Edge of Town. The song, unfortunately, does not appear in the film.
In THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, the films that are watched by the “employees” in the Smar-Tech store are all produced by Universal.
ABBOT & COSTELLO MEET DRACULA n is only the second time Bela Lugosi would play “Dracula” in a feature film. (He played other vampires in the interim, but not Dracula.)
“The Bride” in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is the only one of Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters to have never killed anyone.
So, go home tonight and watch a classic Universal movie and remember the good times they have brought us movie fans for the last hundred years.
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