We recently brought part one of our list of 15 things you didn’t know about Universal, and now we are back with part two! Keep reading to find out seven more fun facts about America’s oldest film studio.
Number Seven: Admission to Universal Studios Hollywood Used to Cost Less Than One Dollar
Upon opening of Universal Studios Hollywood, the first resort of its kind in America, the admission ticket was just a quarter of a dollar, and it included a free meal. Today, general admission to the park has increased by 300%: $75 per visitor.
Number Six: Universal Vs. Nintendo
In 1984, Universal Studios and Nintendo went to ‘war.’ The reason? Universal complained that Nintendo’s Donkey Kong was a trademark infringement of their celebrated classic King Kong. Eventually, Nintendo won the case. GameSpy named it one of the “25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming.”
Number Five: Universal Turned Down ‘Star Wars’
George Lucas had a really hard time trying to sell his space opera movie. In fact, most major studios, such as Universal and United Artists (former Sunset Productions), turned him down. Eventually, 20th Century Fox purchased the rights to its theatrical distribution, simply because they loved the director’s previous film, American Graffiti (distributed by Universal four years earlier.)
Number Four: The Studio Propelled Vans into Success
The famous shoe brand was relatively unknown until the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High came out. The ‘80s cult classic, which features a very young Sean Penn wearing the popular skating sneakers, got a limited theatrical release by Universal. However, the movie turned out to be a box-office hit, earning $2.5 million in its opening weekend. Vans’ sales skyrocketed after its release.
Number Three: Universal’s Legal Issue with Edison
Little do people know about Edison’s infamous plan to ‘hijack’ America’s film industry. The inventor had a patent on motion picture cameras and didn’t let anyone use them. Due to an increase in copyright infringement, Edison created the Motion Pictures Patent Company (the ‘Edison Trust’), according to which film studios nationwide should agree to a monopolistic peace treaty. Basically, Edison charged outrageous quantities to any individual or institution wishing to shoot a movie. Universal’s president, Laemmle, built his own film empire without Edison’s approval and was sued 289 times for intellectual property violations.
Number Two: The Resort’s First Tour Guides Were Celebrities
Universal Hollywood used to hire popular actors and directors as tour guides for their attractions. One of the first tour guides in the resort was John Badham, who directed Saturday Night Fever.
Number One: Universal Attractions Are Housed Inside Real Soundstages
Universal Studios Hollywood was established with the hopes of getting visitors to experience realistic movie-making first hand. The only way to achieve their goal was to use actual soundstages as ride settings. USH Creative Director John Murdy said that “Where Transformers is now, originally that was the old special effects show. It’s a dual soundstage. They’re real soundstages that were used for filming. One was used for The Munsters in the ’60s and one was used for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and many, many other movies.” Thanks for reading our list!