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Fanfare for the Common Film

Written by

Adam Johnston

Give me a bottle of bourbon and half a chicken, and I’ll conquer the world! My job is to make sure that everyone else does their job, which has to be the easiest job in the world considering the brilliant, hard-working people we have in our Flock. My ultimate goal is to run a company that people are proud to work for. I’m an avid statesman, adventurer, Burner, Broadway aficionado, athlete, and I wear my Cole Haans as often as my cowboy boots. It’s a wonderful life.All Posts

If you’ve seen any film in your lifetime, you’ve seen a studio bumper.  You know what they are – the short (5-20 second) minifilm that shows the movie studio’s logo, usually with some sort of music behind it that airs right before the film starts or the opening credits roll.


The most typical example I can think of is that of 20th Century Fox.  You can probably already picture it – the mountainous golden artdeco lettering, the massive searchlights, the trumpeting fanfare.  It’s so classic that it has probably had the fewest changes over the years, even with the Twentieth Century firmly located in the historical record.  You can see how it has changed through the years below.  


What’s most remarkable to me, is how little it has changed.


Columbia Pictures is another one that has produced variations on a theme throughout its near-century of existence.  Most of them incorporate the famous “torch-woman” – Columbia, the living personification of the United States.


One of the bumpers that surprised me is Disney’s.  The view of Cinderella’s castle and “When You Wish Upon A Star” is so iconic that I didn’t realize it’s practically brand-new.  The first Disney film to feature the bumper was 1985’s The Black Cauldron, and it was a very simple version of it.  We didn’t see the three-dimensional version until 2006’s Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest. We’ve been seeing something close to this ever since.


While not a bumper, exactly, the oldest studio logo is that of the Gaumont Film Company. The studio started at the dawn of film, 1895 by inventor Léon Gaumont .  Their logo is a simple daisy, representing Gaumont’s mother, Marguerite.