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Universal Studios

Universal Studios is a famous Hollywood film studio. It was founded by German immigrant Carl Laemmle[?] in 1912. In 1929, Carl Laemmle Jr.[?] took over the helm of the studio, and tried to lift the reputation of the low-budget company by spending more on production and talent. The Universal horror classics like Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931)[?], and The Mummy (1932)[?] were the result of this move, but they were not financially successful for the company, and they returned to mass-produced dreck for some time thereafter.

In 1952, the studio was acquired by the record company Decca, who then sold it to MCA in 1962. Universal finally began to prosper, with the leadership of Lew Wasserman[?]. Three decades of steady success, with the occasional blockbuster like Jaws, seemed to poise the studio for great future potential.

However, the era of huge media mergers that began in the 1990s put pressure on the firm. Wasserman sought and shepherded an alliance with Matsushita Electric[?] (parent of Panasonic and other brands). The cash infusion was helpful, but the corporate culture of the Japanese firm did not mesh easily with the headstrong old Hollywood veterans. Matsushita tired of the battle, and sold a controlling share of the studio to the Seagram company in 1995.

Seagram went on to acquire Polygram[?] and other entertainment properties in order to build a media empire centered on Universal, but stock prices never took off the way they expected.

In June of 2000, Universal was acquired by the French company Vivendi, now Vivendi Universal. The studio has continued under the leadership of Ron Meyer, Stacey Snider, and Barry Diller[?].

Universal Studios Theme Parks

Universal Studios has long hosted tours of its Hollywood studios to eager California tourists. In 1964, the humble tram tour became a full-blown theme park -- the narrated tram tour still runs through the studio's backlot[?], showing off the sets and props from a huge variety of Universal movie and TV productions, but the Universal Studios Hollywood park has added some high-tech rides, stunt shows, and attractions.

Universal has since opened theme parks in Florida, Japan, and Spain (although without the working studio attached).

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