Paramount Pictures began humbly in 1912 when Adolph Zukor, the owner of a New York nickelodeon, released the first full-length drama shown in the United States (Queen Elizabeth, starring Sarah Bernhardt) and founded the Famous Players Film Company. A year later, Zukor began distributing his films through a start-up company called Paramount Pictures.
In 1916, Zukor’s Famous Players merged with The Jesse L. Lasky Company, which was producing films in Hollywood (including the first feature-length film ever produced in Hollywood – The Squaw Man) and also using Paramount Pictures as a distributor. The newly formed Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, soon consolidated with the distribution company (in which Zukor was a major stockholder) and all three companies became what you now know as Paramount Pictures.
After the merger, audiences first began seeing the iconic logo with the mountain and stars, which was created by Paramount (the distribution company) founder W. W. Hodkinson. Hodkinson had borrowed the Paramount name from an apartment house that he frequently passed in his neighborhood. A mountain peak he remembered from his childhood in Utah inspired the logo, which he designed. Legend has it that the stars surrounding the mountain represented the original 22 film stars Hodkinson had under contract. Another implication was that Paramount had more stars than there were in the universe.
In 1926, Lasky supervised the construction of a new Hollywood studio, which was the foundation of the Paramount Pictures studio lot today. The original studio, which cost $1 million to build, stood on a 26-acre lot and contained four large sound stages.
It only took a year after moving onto our current studio lot for Paramount’s success to become evident. In 1927, Paramount received the very first Academy Award for Best Picture with its release of Wings, a silent movie about World War I fighter pilots. In addition, Wings is the only silent film in movie history to win that award.
There was no looking back after that.
Memorable Movies (1912-1929)
• The Sheik (1921)
• Wings (1927, Winner of the 1st
Academy Award for Best Picture)
• Interference (1928, Paramount's 1st All Talkie)
• Coconuts (1929)
Famous Stars (1912-1929)
• Cecil B. DeMille
• Mary Pickford
• Clara Bow
• Douglas Fairbanks
• Gloria Swanson
• Rudolph Valentino
The Beginning and Early Years
The 30s through the mid-50s proved to be an immensely successful period for Paramount. Many of the classics we’ve all come to know and love were created during this time. In the midst of the Great Depression, the memorable Bing Crosby musicals, Cecil B. DeMille spectacles and the outrageous comedies of Mae West were all created.
Throughout our history, Paramount has nurtured and aided the industry’s most legendary movie talent. From the earliest years and through the 1930s, actors and actresses were more like professional football players of today. They were contracted by the different studios to only appear in each particular studio’s movies. They were also traded back and forth for particular productions between studios. (In more recent times, actors, directors and other talent now have the freedom to work on any production they wish, with any studio.)
During the mid to late 40s, the critical acclaim of films from Paramount also became prominent. In 1944, Paramount won its second Academy Award for Best Picture for Going My Way. The very next year, The Lost Weekend took the top prize. Throughout the early 50s, Paramount dominated the Academy Award nominee lists with enduring classics, including Sunset Boulevard, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952 Academy Winner), Shane, The Rose Tattoo and DeMille’s remake of The Ten Commandments.
Memorable Movies (1930-1959)
• Bob Hope & Bing Crosby
“Road” Series (1940-1962)
• Going My Way (1944)
• Sunset Boulevard (1950)
• The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
• White Christmas (1954)
• The Ten Commandments (1956)
Famous Stars (1930-1959)
• Cecil B. DeMille
• Bob Hope
• Bing Crosby
• Marlene Dietrich
• Mae West
• Gary Cooper
• The Marx Brothers
• Elvis Presley
The Golden Age Through
the Post War Years
In the mid-1960s Paramount dove head first into the world of television. In 1967, the lot underwent one of its largest expansions with the purchase of Desilu television studios from Lucille Ball. With the acquisition, Paramount controlled and produced some of the most unforgettable TV series ever.
Despite focusing a great deal of energy on television, Paramount still continued to turn out countless, unforgettable movies. It was during this time that some of the most groundbreaking movies were created like the influential Godfather series, which set the standard for almost all gangster movies to follow.
• Psycho (1960)
• Blue Hawaii (1961)
• Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
• True Grit (1969)
• The Godfather Trilogy (1972-1990)
• Saturday Night Fever (1977)
• Apocalypse Now (1979)
• Star Trek Original Movie Series (1979-2002)
TV Series (1960-1979)
• The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
• Mission: Impossible (1966-1973)
• Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969)
• The Brady Bunch (1969-1974)
• The Odd Couple (1970-1975)
• Happy Days (1974-1984)
• Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983)
• Mork and Mindy (1978-1982)
• Taxi (1978-1983)
Famous Stars (1960-1979)
• Elvis Presley
• Alfred Hitchcock
• Audrey Hepburn
• John Travolta
• John Wayne
The Jump to Television
The 80s gave rise to some of the nation’s most memorable films – many of which went on to become enduring franchises. Critical acclaim continued to pour in over the movies coming from the Paramount lot, especially for many of the movies with historical backgrounds, like Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Titanic (all three of these won the Academy Award for Best Picture).
The most successful of these films, Titanic, a joint production with 20th Century Fox, became the highest grossing film up to that time, grossing over $1.8 billion worldwide, and retained that title until recently topped by Avatar.
• Friday the 13th Series (1980-1989)
• Ordinary People (1980)
• Indiana Jones Series (1981-2008)
• Terms of Endearment (1983)
• Forrest Gump (1994)
• Braveheart (1995)
• Mission: Impossible Series (1996-2015)
• Titanic (1997, 2nd Highest Grossing Film Ever)
• Saving Private Ryan (1998)
TV Series (1980-1999)
• Solid Gold (1980-1988)
• Entertainment Tonight (1981-2008)
• Family Ties (1982-1989)
• Cheers (1982-1993)
• Webster (1983-1989)
• MacGyver (1985-1992)
• Frasier (1993-2004)
• Charmed (1998-2006)
• Angel (Fox, 1999-2004)
Famous Stars (1980-1999)
• Steven Spielberg
• Tom Hanks
• Harrison Ford
• Meryl Streep
• Eddie Murphy
• Tom Cruise
• Angelina Jolie
Turn of the Century Blockbusters
As the 21st century begins to unfold, Paramount continues to remain one of the biggest and best forces in the film industry. Successful films, both critically and popularly, constantly stream to movie lovers worldwide. 2010 proved to be a great year, most notably for the movies The Fighter and a remake of the 1969 classic True Grit. Both movies were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
The Fighter received seven Academy Award nominations in total and took home awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. True Grit was nominated for ten Academy Awards. When told of all the nominations, its directors, the Coen brothers, stated, "Ten seems like an awful lot. We don't want to take anyone else's."
Updates on the studio lot also continue unabated, keeping Paramount at the forefront of production technology. The most recent example is a new post production sound facility built in conjunction with Technicolor, which opened in December, 2011. Home to some of the industry’s leading creative and technical talent, it hosts the most advanced, state-of-the-art technology and is furnished with the latest digital infrastructure.
Memorable Movies (2000-present)
• We Were Soldiers (2002)
• The Italian Job (2003)
• War of the Worlds (2005)
• Transformers Series (2007-2014)
• Iron Man Series (2008-2013)
• Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
• Star Trek Series (2009-2016)
• The Fighter (2010)
• True Grit (2010)
• World War Z (2013)
• The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
• Selma (2014)
• Interstellar (2014)
• The SpongeBob Movie:
Sponge Out of Water (2015)
• Daddy's Home (2015)
Memorable TV Series (2000-present)
• Dr. Phil (CBS, 2002-present)
• Monk (NBC/UNI, 2002-2009)
• Nip/Tuck (WB, 2003-2009)
• Everybody Hates Chris (CBS, 2005-2008)
• Hung (HBO, 2009-2011)
• Glee (Fox, 2009-2015)
• Hung (HBO, 2009-present)
• NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS, 2009-present)
• The Blacklist (NBC/UNI, 2013-present)
Famous Stars (2000-present)
• Coen Brothers
• Tom Cruise
• Angelina Jolie
• Mel Gibson
• Robert Downey Jr.
A New Century Begins
© 2018 Paramount Pictures Special Events
As the longest operating and only remaining major studio in Hollywood, Paramount Pictures has been
on the ground floor of every major development in film – from the advent of motion pictures, to the emergence of television, through the digital revolution. During our 100-year history, we have served as
the production site for thousands of notable movies and TV shows.
Today, we continue to partner with projects large and small in a ceaseless effort to create celebrated movies, television shows, and commercials.
Our studio lot has grown considerably over the years, expanding from 26 acres and four stages to 65 acres and thirty stages. We have also constructed other impressive sites like the massive Blue Sky Tank and our one-of-a-kind New York Street backlot, which features ten distinct city neighborhood backdrops. When you visit our lot, not only will you see where some of the most celebrated movies and television series were made, but also see how we continue to produce iconic motion pictures for the next century.
At Paramount, you will get to wander through the past and see the future at the same time.
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Photo Credits: Billy Butchkavitz Design, Bixel & Company, 360 Destination Group, Access Destinations