To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Paramount Pictures announced today that starting with Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, the studio will unveil its newest logo. It's a lush, photo-realistic variation of the classic mountain peak that has made up the studio's logo since it was conceived in 1916. Check out the full version below (in 2013, the "100 Years" graphic will, of course, be removed):

I'm a real design nut, so seeing this picturesque image had me wondering how this compares to logos from Paramount's past. To wit:

This is the company's very first logo, created in 1916, and already, the basics have been laid down: A single mountain peak; "Paramount" in a script-y typeface, with the "P" especially swirly; and everything framed by a semi-circle of five-pointed stars. Curiously, though, there are 23 stars in this logo, whereas the current version has 22. Most curious, indeed…


By the 1950s, the logo went into full color, and the mountain vista was filled out with smaller peaks and even some trees. "A Paramount Picture" had become "A Paramount Release," and the swoopy, swirly typeface had only become more so. But the semi-circle of stars mystery continues: There are 24 in this logo. Yes, this is really important information.

The 1970s were a time of iconoclastic, buck-the-system cool, so out went the realistic matte painting, and in came a graphic, blue-and-white abstract image instead. Ironically, it also harkened back to the simple, single mountain peak of the studio's first logo. Star count: 22, where it has remained up to the newest version announced today. (In what may be the silliest request I've made as a journalist this year, I reached out to Paramount to ask about the changes to the stars; strangely, I have yet to hear back.) UPDATE! According to a Paramount rep (and many of you in the comments), those stars represent the first 22 actors who were contracted with the studio during the old studio system days. How this explains how the very first logo has 23 stars, and a subsequent logo has 24, has yet to be made clear, but I shall remain forever vigilant.

To celebrate Paramount's 75th anniversary in 1987, the studio went back to the more realistic image of the mountain peak, this time shot as if at sunset (or sunrise). But this was no longer a static image: The camera pushes in on the mountain, as those 22 stars swoop in from the left and majestically encircle the peak. Fancy!

The penultimate Paramount logo, unveiled in 2002 for the company's 90th anniversary, took advantage of modern CG effects, and had those stars flying across the wispy clouds, as if reflected inside the "P" of the Paramount script-y typeface itself. But it looks as if we've moved more mid-day:

So what do you make of our little jaunt through Paramount logo history? Which version is your favorite?