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The Story Behind 6 Iconic Movie Logos

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You don’t need a single word of copy to know that the Apple logo is indicative of the famous hardware company founded by Steve Jobs, or that the Golden Arches promise a very particular fast-food dining experience. Occasionally, that kind of silent recognition is present in feature films, where graphic designers have created iconic logos for movies that become synonymous with their titles. Take a look at the stories behind six of Hollywood’s most indelible movie trademarks.

1. GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)

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Appearing prominently on posters for three theatrical Ghostbusters films, the stylized, seemingly spooked ghost was actually designed before the 1984 original even had an official title. Designer Michael C. Gross had previously worked in print media before meeting director Ivan Reitman, who invited him to craft an image for his in-development paranormal comedy. The problem, Reitman explained, was that the studio hasn’t yet cleared Ghostbusters from Filmation, which had produced a 1975 kid series called The Ghost Busters—until the legal matter was resolved, the teaser poster would have to stand on its own. Gross took the description of the ghost logo from Dan Aykroyd’s script, which called for it to appear on the team’s car and uniforms, and drafted 30 or so variations before settling on the affable specter with a banned strike running through it.

Everyone loved it. Mostly. Harvey Comics, which published Casper the Friendly Ghost, believed Gross’s sprite looked too much like a supporting Casper character named Fatso and sued Columbia Pictures over it. The two parties settled. Gross was unmoved by the charge. “There are only so many ways you can draw a cartoon ghost,” he said.

2. JACKASS: THE MOVIE (2002)

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Originally seen in the 2000-2002 MTV series, the skull-and-crutches has come to represent the anarchic spirit of Johnny Knoxville and his troupe of stunt comedians. Director Jeff Tremaine had graphic designer and friend Andy Jenkins compose the logo: The two knew each other from the BMX and skateboarding scene of 1980s California.

Oddly, the logo has come to take on an entirely different meaning for the Mexican drug cartel. In 2009, three suspected assassins in Tijuana were detained after authorities noticed bullet holes along the side of their vehicle. Inside were 15 black uniforms adorned with the logo. In 2012, the San Diego Reader reported that the emblem was favored by notorious drug dealer Raydel “El Muletas” Lopez Uriarte to identity his drug shipments and employees.

3. BATMAN (1989)

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The comic book movie industry had not yet taken shape when Warner Bros. and director Tim Burton mounted their serious take on the Dark Knight: The last major live-action adaptation of the character had been the campy 1966 ABC series starring Adam West. To help distance themselves from that take, and to capitalize on the recognition Batman had with a mainstream audience, producer Jon Peters decided to enlist the film’s production designer, Anton Furst, to rethink the Bat-logo for teaser posters. Peters, Furst recalled, hated the early posters that looked like generic action movie ads and wanted Furst to “drop everything” else he was doing on the movie to revisit the logo.

Rather than use the bright yellow background of the emblem from the comics, Furst and ad agency B.D. Fox went with a stark gold with clean, sharp lines that was both familiar and different enough to make people walking by the poster do a double take. (Seen in silhouette, the Batwing vehicle in the film mimicked its shape.) The slightly abstract imagery was so successful that it was used throughout the film’s numerous merchandising lines and was reimagined in a snow drift for the 1992 sequel.

4. THE JAMES BOND SERIES (1962-PRESENT)

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Guns, gadgets, women: The 007 logo for the James Bond series makes promises to viewers with three simple numbers. Iconic now, it was originally intended to be used for nothing more than letterhead. Designer Joseph Caroff was commissioned by United Artists to create a Bond image the studio could use to help identify press releases for media members. Caroff decided to use Bond’s agent classification. In drawing it, he realized the “7” could be a piece of a gun and added an outline of a Beretta firearm that he had come across during a visit to the library. Caroff received $300 for the work.

5. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)

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There are multiple dimensions to the theatrical release poster design that helped moviegoers spot this Oscar-winning adaptation of author Thomas Harris’s novel about FBI agent Clarice Starling’s peculiar relationship with unofficial mentor—and serial killer—Hannibal Lecter. The moth depicted in the artwork is real: The death’s head, or doomsday, hawk moth is native to Europe and has what looks to be a skull on its back. But if you look extremely closely, you’ll see that the skull is actually paying homage to Salvador Dalí’s “In Voluptas Mors,” a 1951 photograph depicting seven naked women intertwined.

6. JURASSIC PARK (1993)

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The silhouette of a T. rex skeleton frozen in time while stalking its prey was courtesy of book jacket designer Chip Kidd, then an assistant for book publisher Alfred A. Knopf. Kidd's design for the original printing of Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel was later placed against a red backdrop and used in promotional materials for the 1993 film adaptation. Kidd said he went to the Museum of Natural History, found a book in the gift shop that featured a T. rex skeleton diagram, reconstituted it for accuracy, and then watched it become synonymous with both the film franchise and dinosaurs as a whole for the next quarter-century.

Kidd recalled that Universal’s marketing department called Knopf requesting permission for his image in case they “might” want to use it for the film’s advertising. Tom Martin, the film’s poster designer, used Kidd’s design, adding typeface and a small jungle landscape at the bottom to help give the dinosaur scale. For the sequel novel, The Lost World, Kidd simply turned the T. rex's face downward.

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Amsterdam is Turning Plastic Trash Into 3D-Printed Furniture
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PrintYourCity

The city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands is taking a unique approach to waste management, Inhabitat reports. Under the direction of The New Raw, a Rotterdam-based design studio, recycled plastic is being used to make public benches that capture a lot of the area’s charm while providing solutions for the 51 pounds of plastic refuse each Amsterdam resident tosses away each year.

The initiative is called Print Your City! and encourages those materials to be repurposed via 3D printing to make new, permanent fixtures. The New Raw calls it a “closed loop” of use, where the plastic is used, reused, and materialized in the same environment. The bench, dubbed XXX, seats two and rocks back and forth with the sitters' movements, offering a metaphor for the teamwork The New Raw is attempting to cultivate with the general public.

A plastic chair is surrounded by trash
Print Your City!

“Plastic has a major design failure,” says Panos Sakkas, an architect with The New Raw. “It’s designed to last forever, but it’s used only for a few seconds and then easily thrown away.”

The goal is to collect more plastic material in the city to use for projects that can be designed and implemented by citizens. In the future, 3D printing may also support bus shelters, waste bins, and playground material—all of it recyclable.

[h/t Inhabitat]

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Watch a Chain of Dominos Climb a Flight of Stairs
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Dominos are made to fall down—it's what they do. But in the hands of 19-year-old professional domino artist Lily Hevesh, known as Hevesh5 on YouTube, the tiny plastic tiles can be arranged to fall up a flight of stairs in spectacular fashion.

The video spotted by Thrillist shows the chain reaction being set off at the top a staircase. The momentum travels to the bottom of the stairs and is then carried back up through a Rube Goldberg machine of balls, cups, dominos, and other toys spanning the steps. The contraption leads back up to the platform where it began, only to end with a basketball bouncing down the steps and toppling a wall of dominos below.

The domino art seems to flow effortlessly, but it took more than a few shots to get it right. The footage below shows the 32nd attempt at having all the elements come together in one, unbroken take. (You can catch the blooper at the end of an uncooperative basketball ruining a near-perfect run.)

Hevesh’s domino chains that don't appear to defy gravity are no less impressive. Check out this ambitious rainbow domino spiral that took her 25 hours to construct.

[h/t Thrillist]

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