Universal Studios is a Hollywood film production and distribution company, located at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Los Angeles, California. Sprawling over 415 acres, it is controlled by the General Electric Corporation, a multinational technology and services company.
The facility was founded in 1915 by the German-American film pioneer, Carl Laemmle, on the site of a former chicken farm. In the beginning, Carl Laemmle built only two sets, on which the first silent films were made in the open air. He partnered with Abe Stern and Julius Stern to create the facility.
The studio traces its origins to the creation of the Yankee Film Company in 1909, which quickly evolved into the Independent Moving Picture Company (IMP). A re-organization in 1911 resulted in IMP becoming the Universal Film Exchange. On June 8, 1912, the company was incorporated under that name.
In the early years of Universal, the company absorbed a number of small firms, including Champion Motion Picture Company, Nestor Motion Picture Company, The New York Motion Picture Company, Powers Motion Picture Company, and Rex Motion Picture Company.
Carl Laemmle Jr. took control of Universal in 1928. He tried to raise the status of the low-budget company by spending more on production and talent. The 1929 version of Show Boat, the first color musical; King of Jazz; and All Quiet on the Western Front, winner of the Best Picture award for 1930, were the result of that move. His efforts also included a long-running series of such horror classics as Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy. Unfortunately, those movies were not financially successful for the company. By the late 1930s, the Laemmle family was no longer in control.
The studio was acquired by the Decca record company in 1952. In 1958, Decca sold the Universal City lot to MCA. By 1962, it merged completely with MCA and prospered under the leadership of Lew Wasserman. Universal's entry into the television programming business also was the result of this move. The name was changed to Universal Television. The studio then began to produce crime dramas and action/adventure series, among them the 1960s Dragnet revival, Adam-12, Emergency!, Columbo, Baretta, Knight Rider, Quantum Leap, and Law & Order.
In 1998, USA Networks acquired Universal's TV studios and renamed them Studios USA. Universal bought back USA's cable and studio holdings in 2002, hence returning the Universal Television name. Universal was acquired by the French company Vivendi (becoming Vivendi Universal) in June 2000. Ron Meyer, Stacey Snider, and Barry Diller controlled the studios during that period. In October 2003, Vivendi Universal sold the studios and theme parks to General Electric Corporation, parent of television network NBC.
In addition to a working studio, Universal Studios is an interesting theme park for any movie lover. From the beginning, it has hosted both walking and motorized tours of its studios to eager tourists. Its attractions can be described as eclectic. The popular rides include the Jurassic Park ride, the Revenge of the Mummy, and Back to the Future.
The studio maintains a City-Walk entertainment area outside the theme park gates. The area features unique shops and restaurants, a variety of night clubs (dance, comedy, blues and others), a public fountain, and a large high-tech movie theater.