Universal outlines 100th anni plans

Studio restores 13 films, sets collector's DVD set, readies new logo

Marking its 100th anniversary this year, Universal Pictures has officially laid out plans for a yearlong celebration, including the restoration of 13 films and the unveiling of the studio’s new logo.

The studio and its home entertainment division will introduce a limited-edition 100th-anni collector’s series of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and Universal Parks and Resorts will host several events dedicated to the centennial.

Universal prexy-chief operating officer Ron Meyer told Variety that the sum total of anni activities has brought out the best ambitions of the studio’s teams. “I didn’t start with this company, but I do believe it is my family, and I’m glad I was able to see this celebration come together,” Meyer said. “So many people worked so hard on this too. I mean people would do their day-job and then put work into planning this, so I think a big part of this celebration is honoring those people who worked on it as well.”

The 13 films that were the subject of the restoration efforts are “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “The Birds,” “Buck Privates,” “Dracula” (1931), “Dracula” (in Spanish, 1931), “Frankenstein,” “Jaws,” “Schindler’s List,” “Out of Africa,” “Pillow Talk,” “Bride of Frankenstein” “The Sting” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Last month, the studio conducted a tour for the press of how the restoration process was being handled and explained that the 13 films were chosen for restoration because of their significance to the cinematic community, the size of the film, the pedigree of the filmmaker or how much the film needed restoration.

Meyer said preservation efforts are important to all the studios and that U’s restoration work on the 13 pics made sense as part of the anniversary year.

“I have four kids of my own and I don’t think any of them were alive when most of these films came out and I want them to be able to enjoy films like “Schindler’s List” and “Out of Africa” in their full figure,” he said.

As for the studio’s new logo, it will be attached first to the trailer of “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” which has its premiere in February and bows in theaters March 2. While the logo has gone through several iterations over the years, Meyer said this latest edition will have a very different look. It will also be accompanied by new music.

The studio’s centennial comes on the heels of one of its best years. Universal crossed the billion-dollar mark at the domestic B.O. in 2011 thanks to such films as “Fast Five,” “Hop” and “Bridesmaids.” The year also saw Meyer, chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chair Donna Langley receive extensions in their current positions.

For 2012, the studio has tentpoles “Battleship,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “The Bourne Legacy” on its slate.