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You decide to take a trip to the local cinema on a cold winter’s night. The sun went down almost 5 hours ago yet it’s only 8pm. There’s a buzz in the air about the film you’re here to see, the trailer kicks ass and the director has shown some real signs of promise. The cast is relatively unknown but there’s that guy who was in that thing that you promised yourself you’d never watch so he better impress this time around, and you’re pretty sure he will deliver. You finally make it through the doors and you feel like a man returning from war to your home comforts, it’s warm and familiar and your wife is cooking your favourite stew. Except this is your local one-screen cinema and it’s the smell of sweet (never salted, for me) popcorn that is working it’s magic on your nostrils. The spotty kid behind the counter takes your small change and gives you your ticket stub, but before you take the stairs up to your seat, it’s time to purchase your (large) cup of popcorn. And a drink. And some chocolate too.

The ascending staircase is hard work because you’re already starting to relax your shoulders and your mindset is for getting yourself as comfy as possible, and the orange felt seat that awaits you is not the comfiest. But it has a certain charm that compensates for the lack of leg room on offer. And as the place is dying on it’s arse for customers you’ll likely have the chance to pop your feet up on the row of seats in front. This might sound disrespectful, but everybody else is doing it and the steward won’t see. Live a little.

You’re running late but you manage to sit down just in time for the sound of Pearl and Dean:

Following that there’s one more trailer before the show begins for the latest Roland Emmerich-style disaster movie and even that was interrupted by your girlfriend having to run for a toilet break (she does this every time). But she’s back sooner than you expect, just as the wall of sound booming out dies down, your ears register the silence that has fallen upon the audience for the first time this evening. The lights are low, the curtain has edged out for the full widescreen effect and the film is about to begin…

And that’s where I click “pause”. Quite honestly, no matter what follows in these circumstances I will still enjoy my evening. I’ve honestly never regretted paying to see a particular film. And I’ve seen plenty of awful productions. I came closest to walking out of Changing Lanes at the suggestion of my friend, but even then I was happy for the popcorn and of the experience. Daredevil was another – Ben Affleck has a lot to answer for.

But my original point was to list my Top 5 movie studio idents. The short sequence, usually about 20 seconds, stating the name of the movie studio financing and distributing the picture you have paid to see. Sometimes they’re traditional with grand music and the logo in front of a dark backdrop, others are inventive with animation and wide angle close-up shots panning out to reveal the name. These days, the done thing for your summer blockbuster types are to personalise these idents to the movie franchise it precedes – but that’s not for now, let’s have a rundown of my very favourites – hit “play”!

MGM – The classic

Dreamworks – I always get this mixed up with Amblin…

Phoenix Pictures – Not the most famous but they’ve produced some classic modern cinema such as Black Swan, Zodiac and Martin Scorcese’s Shutter Island

Studio Canal – The European newbies, making all the right sounds a movie should do

20th Century Fox – this is included solely because of it’s appearance in the loading screen of the 90’s Die Hard Trilogy videogame for the PlayStation. That in itself played on all the emotions I describe above about the cinema experience

Walt Disney Pictures – The music, the castle, the fireworks, the reflection of the moat… it makes you want to book your tickets to Disney World asap.

Pixar – a simple character inclusion forever symbolising what it is they set out to achieve in their work

Marvel – probably my favourite and it’s how they orginally presented it with the flickering sound of the comic book pages overdubbed which is the most effective

Finally, Universal – this is included mainly for the game you have to play where you guess where the drum beat comes in. It’s the second one that always catches me out…

OK, I know that’s more than 5 but they’re all so darn good.


  1. Excellent post! Shame the real music wasn t on certain idents, and a shame Paramount don t have a dedicated score on theirs.

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