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1st Open
(1979-1982)
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Nickname: "The HBO Feature Marquee"

Bumper: We start out with a space background with a light grid sheet at the bottom running. Then, we see searchlights on the left and right sides, and criss-cross together. At the same time, blue lights appear and yellow rays rain throughout out of the blue light, changing into blue rays, then yellow circles, then yellow zigzags, then colorful criss-cross lines, then blue and yellow straight lines, and finally wavy lines with curvy lines. Then we pan up to the searchlights up close, and the searchlights reveal a box of popcorn, which completely disappears. Then we see yellow animated drawn popcorn moving then falling down with a "shadow" effect. Then, the same popcorn reveals a marquee with the lines and designs (looking like the Orpheum or Pantages theater), and the marquee zooms up. Then, we move to a plain black screen, and the words "HBO FEATURE MOVIE" one above each other zooms and pans down in a "shadow" effect. Then, lines appear behind each word, and the words turn red. The bars shine repeatedly.

FX/SFX: Mostly backlit computer animation is used here (same effects used in the movie Tron), and it looks really well done for the time.

Music/Sounds: An orchestral theme that sounds like it's from Sesame Street.

Availability: Extinct.

Scare Factor: Low. The music may not sit well with some.


2nd Open
(1979-1982)
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Nickname: "The Hollywood Walk", "Big Band"

Bumper: The camera travels down an infinite lapse of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where we see some movie items on the left and right sides of the screen (i.e. a glass slipper, a box of popcorn, a soda bottle, etc.) We then zoom into a picture with strange objects moving around, we then cut back to the Walk of Fame where we see a box office from a far distance. As the sky turns to night, we zoom into the box office and the screens cuts to black where the "HBO FEATURE MOVIE" text animates as usual.

FX/SFX: The zooming.

Cheesy Factor: Rather cheap animation, but kind of fun to see.

Music/Sounds: A jazzy version of the fanfare. Fits well with this bumper.

Availability: Extinct. It was last seen on HBO around 1982.

Scare Factor: Low. The music might be loud to some.


3rd Open
(1979-1982)
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Nickname: "The Flashing Theater"

Bumper: On a space background, we see a vortex positioned like a floor, sitting in the middle of the screen. At the same time bright lines begin drawing out a stylized movie theater complete with box office. We then zoom into a yellow star and then cut to more bright lines drawing out the interior of the theater. Red and blue curtains appear on the stage and as we slowly zoom in the curtains unveil and we go to a black background where we see the "HBO FEATURE MOVIE" text animating as usual.

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: The drawing lines, the flashing effects. All typical '70s animation.

Music/Sounds: An alternate version of the fanfare used in the first bumper, only more slower and louder.

Availability: Extinct. It was last seen on HBO in the early '80s. Check old videotapes for it.

Scare Factor: Medium to high. The flashing effects and loud music might not sit well with most people.


4th Open
(1979-1982)
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Nickname: "Shapes In Space" , "The Abstraction"

Bumper: On a space background, we pass through many odd shapes and lines, many of which light up. After a while, a stylized yellow box moves in from the right and we zoom into it, where we go to the black background again with the text animated out as usual.

FX/SFX: The shapes, the box moving in, text animating out.

Cheesy Factor: Kind of simple animation, but kind of cool.

Music/Sounds: A bouncy techno version of the fanfare, kind of fits well with this bumper.

Availability: Again, extinct. Check old videotapes for this bumper.

Scare Factor: Low. The abstract animation might scare a few, but it's a lot tamer.


5th Open
(1980-1982)
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Nicknames: "Funky Marquee"

Bumper: We see a futuristic-like city at twilight, and we pan to the left where we see a movie theater with searchlights criss-crossing. Then we zoom into an opening where we see a bird's-eye view of the theater lit brown/orange. We slowly zoom into the projection screen and we fade into a black background with the text animating as usual.

FX/SFX: Live action.

Music/Sounds: A rather moody, funky, smooth version of the fanfare. Again, it fits well with this logo.

Availability: Extinct. Check some old videotapes for this bumper.

Scare Factor: Low to medium.

6th Open
(1980-1982)
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Nickname: "Liquid/Neon Marquee"

Bumper: On a black background, purple streaks rain down the screen at an angle. We then fade to see a gray square with a neon pink outline flipping and zooming away, with an ocean at the bottom of the screen. When it disappears, a flash brings forth a series of gold bars that fly on the left and right sides of the screen. They eventually form a theater hallway with the ocean turning into the floor. A brown screen turns the background to black and the usual text animates out.

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: Pretty cool animation for 1980.

Music/Sounds: A relaxing synth version of the fanfare mixed with drums.

Availability: Extinct. This was the last intro HBO used until the "HBO In Space" bumper was created. Again, check some old tapes for it.

Scare Factor: Minimal.


7th Open
(September 1982-2002)
Edit

Nicknames: "HBO in Space", "Starship HBO", "HBO City", "The Big Bang", "The Big One", "Classic HBO", "80s HBO"

Bumper: We start with a man tuning the cable on a TV set for a channel (to HBO, of course!) in his apartment as he settles down on the couch with his wife with food items in front of them (i.e. a tub of popcorn, a pizza cut into slices etc.). The camera pans backwards outside the window to show a somewhat busy city intersection with figurines of vehicles and people standing on the sidewalk at twilight. The music starts, and the camera "flies" forward down the street, then over some houses and then several trees. Eventually, the camera pans up into space to reveal the source of the light -- a star (positioned near the top center of the screen) that gets brighter and brighter, and eventually explodes, leaving behind a shiny chrome model monolith. The monolith moves down and across the screen and rotates clockwise, revealing itself as the HBO logo, then turns around one more time as the camera zooms in on the side of the O. The side of the O disappears in a flash of light, revealing a stream of colored rays streaking counter-clockwise around a silver axis, and "HBO FEATURE PRESENTATION" (Note: different titles would appear depending on the program) appears, one word atop the other (and a line under "PRESENTATION"), in a heavy, lavender 3D "gaspipe" lettering style against an array of purple lines. Some more rays sweep across the words and shine, then the background would fade to black with more flashes from the surrounding rays.

Trivia: This bumper was parodied in the music video for "DVNO" by the French electro house group Justice, with even more high-tech effects. The HBO short-form interstitial series Behind the Scenes, which aired between features from the early 1980s to about the early 1990s, had one episode titled "A Closer Look: Inside the HBO City" devoted to showing virtually all the work behind this logo and how the ideas of the bumper came up. The episode can be viewed here. The Nostalgia Critic took a look at this bumper in his "Rise of the Commercials" video.

Variants:

  • There were 11 different endings depending on what the program is. They include "HBO Feature Presentation" (the standard version), "HBO Premiere Presentation" (used for HBO Premiere Films; when HBO Pictures was formed, the Space intro was no longer used for them), "HBO Family Showcase", "HBO Theatre" (which may not have been used on air), "HBO Music", "HBO Saturday/Sunday Night Movie", "HBO Special", "HBO Comedy", "HBO Rock", "Standing Room Only", and "On Location".
  • A slightly more common version starts off with the city covered in fog (which slowly clears up), then has the camera pan across the city as usual.
  • A short version of the bumper that starts before the "big bang" was shown most often (the long version would only be used for new features).
  • Two April Fools Day variants that used a much cheaper version of the city with HBO monolith, and end card also exist: one used "HBO Feature Presentation" in the style of a rebus puzzle (H-bee-O Feet-Y-oar Present-A-shun) which flipped up into the screen, while the other had the "lyrics" to the song in a "follow the bouncing ball" style over the model city. When we reach to space, the familiar HBO is now in aluminum foil held by string and is spun around by a hand. "HBO FEATURE PRESENTATION" in cheaply arranged paper letters fade in on a black background with a pair of live-action hands making odd movements briefly over it (the rebus puzzle version faded to this, but with only a half-second of hand movement).
  • Some end cards had the lines colored royal blue or a red-gray gradient.
  • A somewhat rare version exists. After the man tunes the cable to HBO, we can see his family sharing popcorn while HBO started to be tuned on TV before zooming out the window. This was apparently used when this intro first debuted.
  • Occasionally, during debuts of popular films, when the streaks move around the "O" it would cross-fade into a promo, and when the promo ended it would fade back to the default version, which would end as normal.

FX/SFX: The city cars, wind, and the light sounds in the end. The effects used for the HBO logo are very hi-tech (for the time), and not a single computer-generated image was used to make it. The model city is also intricately detailed, with lightbulbs placed under the houses. The model city sequence was filmed by a motorized camera, and the smoke was done by crew members who puffed it into the city to create an atmosphere. The starburst before the HBO logo's appearance is the "stargate" animation, made with two pieces of art and is moved around and shot frame-by-frame. The HBO monolith itself is a model made of brass and is chrome-plated and combined with the starry sky background. The part with the colored rays was actually a series of fiber optics with motors and gears and pulleys used to change the colors and move them around and put inside the chrome "O". All of this work, done by Liberty Studios in New York City, should show you how wildly impressive this opener is.

Music/Sounds: A dramatic theme (that in the long version, starts with a whoosh and a piano/string chord and gets progressively more tense) leading into a very loud, upbeat, almost disco-style horn-driven overture, then ending with synth sweeps (representing the rays "inside" the "O"). Composed by Ferdinand J. Smith with a 65-man orchestra.

Music/Sound Variants:

  • For the first few months the open was used, a different end-tune that was similar to the "HBO Special" version played instead of the normal end.
  • For the "Family Showcase" variant, the music would get softer and play an uplifting theme just after the "O" disappears.
  • For the "HBO Music/HBO Rock" variants, a rock guitar tune would play near the end.
  • For the "HBO Special" variant, a faster-paced horn tune would play, which sounds kind of like a game show theme.
  • One April Fools variant had the theme being played on kazoos, while a "BOING!" sound is heard while the aluminum HBO comes in on the background.
  • For the "HBO Comedy" open, a "comedic" tune would play.
  • For the "Standing Room Only" variant, a faster-paced tune would play.
  • For the "On Location" variant, a slow, jazzy tune would play.
  • For the "cross-fade promo" version, a voice-over would begin speaking as we enter the interior of the "O", and the first variant mentioned played under the V-O throughout.

Availability: In spite of running a good 20 years, it's extinct. It was shown before movies shown on HBO up until 1999 (despite the fact that HBO had a new ident around the time). Check those old tapes! HBO hasn't forgotten this bumper, despite its retirement, and it's available for viewing on their YouTube channel. In addition, the music was remade for their current open.

Scare Factor: Low, due to the somewhat fast movement of the city scene, the dramatic music, the loud synth sweeps and the flashing at the end. But that notwithstanding, this is a very popular bumper. It is probably one of the most beloved opening bumpers of the 1980s.


8th Open
(1986-1997)
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Nicknames: "Neon Lights", "HBO in the Daytime", "Neon '80s Geometric HBO"

Bumper: We see a heliotrope HBO logo across a vertical filmstrip with light rays being shot through it. The camera pans around and zooms back from several CGI squares glowing various neon colors. Then, the lights shoot out the last square and light up a group of small circles glowing rainbow colors, then zoom out to reveal a light-purple HBO logo with "Movie" written in script in a raspberry-like color with the rainbow circles on a black background behind it.

Variant: In Hungary, "Mozi" (Hungarian for "movie") appears below, with the colors appearing brighter. Most other countries probably have "movie" written in their own native language as well. In Brazil, "Apresenta" (Portuguese for "presents") appears below.

FX/SFX: The pan-down from the CGI squares, the lasers lighting the circle, the zoom out to the HBO Movie logo. This is very professional late '80s animation, done by Pacific Data Images, in addition to those gorgeous neon rainbow colors.

Music/Sounds: A loud electric guitar theme, which culminates into a brief, funky new-wave theme that at the very end ends with another electric guitar strum and a twinkling fade-out.

Availability: Extinct after 10 years. It was last seen on HBO in the late '90s. Check those old tapes for the bumper.

Scare Factor: Low to medium. The glowing is not as bad as the "HBO Feature Presentation"'s flashing, but that loud synth-guitar music may get to some. All in all, it's a good bumper; it may not be as memorable as the previous bumper, but it shares the same impressiveness.


9th Open
(1988-1997)
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Bumper: On a violet/white CGI background with a dark blue CGI floor, we see many colored shapes zooming through the screen. A black rectangle zooms in slowly, along with other ones forming a mantel-like shape, where a hot pink HBO logo rises up, and as the camera stops, the gold words "SPECIAL PRESENTATION" zoom out with a shadow effect and plaster itself on the front of the mantel with the HBO letters turned on a slight angle (a la 20th Century Fox).

FX/SFX: The zooming and rising.

Music/Sounds: A synthesized rock fanfare.

Availability: Mainly appeared on HBO specials in the late '80s-early '90s, though it appeared as late as 1997. It appeared on The Roseanne Barr Special and George Carlin's Jammin' In New York. Most of the specials are on home video; the latter title contains it. It also appeared when HBO aired The Celluloid Closet.

Scare Factor: None at all. It's a cool logo of some sort, otherwise its camera pans might startle a few.


10th Open
(1990s)
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Bumper: On a black reddish orange background is a clear filmstrip. Squares fly through the sprocket holes of the strip. A circle with lines appears on there as well made in the style of the countdown seen on some films. A circular lightbeam is seen underneath where the circle is. The circle animates like the 3-2-1 Countdown,The HBO Original Movie except it counts down as “H”, “B”, and “O.” As this happens, the camera pans to the left and closes in on the countdown with the beam of light extruding through the circle. After the “O” counts down, the circle turns into an “O” and another “O” flies through the film strip and flies through the beam of light with several “O”s joining in. More light beams are seen on the left and right as everything turns blue. The screen then scrolls to a stone platform where the “O”s land and the screen pans out revealing it’s part of the word “ORIGINAL” with blue lines above and below. As this happens “THE HBO” scrolls right and rests above “ORIGINAL” and below that is the word “MOVIE”. The platform has two sets of four light beams seen vertically and horizontally above the words. A filmstrip is seen moving below the platform as spotlight shines through the bumper twice.

FX/SFX: The filmstrip, the countdown, the lighting. Pretty ambitious computer animation from the early 90s.

Music/Sounds: It begins with an electric guitar solo, then going into rock synthesized piece with bells and jingles heard during the flying "O"s and the bell sounds are also synched with the "O"s landing on top of each other.

Availability: Extinct. Was seen at the beginning of TV movies produced by HBO at the time and is only seen on old tape recordings nowadays.

Scare Factor: Low.


11th Open
(1997-November 4, 1998)
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HBO Feature Presentation (1997-1999)

Nicknames: "HBO 1997"

Bumper: We see the white words "FEATURE PRESENTATION" appear over the HBO logo seen in many situations (like the ITV "Hearts" idents from the same time). For example, one scenario involves the HBO logo inside a limo with several paparazzi stumbling to get to the limo and taking several pictures. Another features a zoom-up from a skyscraper to reveal the skyscraper is in the shape of the HBO logo (an influence on the next logo). Finally, another one shows the HBO logo in a fish form.

Variant: The first few uses of this logo had a brief look at the movie that's going to play. The logo would start as usual, but then the word "NOW" would zoom in. Some clips from the following movie would then play. Then, the appearance of the HBO logo in this logo would appear, with the "NOW" animation playing again, and then the full logo would play as normal after that.

FX/SFX: CGI animation, often mixed with live action.

Music/Sounds: The 12-note 1982 fanfare heard in different instruments depending on the variant. The "Now" variant features an announcer saying over the music "It's on, now. [brief description of movie]. [2 actors from movie] in, [movie title]. It's on HBO, right now."

Availability: Extinct. These opens were only used for a year before the next one came along (see below).

Scare Factor: None to high. It all ultimately depends on the variant of this bumper.


12th Open
(November 5, 1998-April 1, 2011)
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StarzTVPG1999

Nicknames: "The Road", "HBO 2000", "HBGlow", "HBO City II", "HBO City Redux"

Bumper: We see a busy street corner with a theater. The theater has the HBO logo above a marque that reads "HBO FEATURE PRESENTATION". We zoom into the theater, pass the box office and into a bright light. We end up zooming down a road in a residential neighborhood with cars driving about. The camera goes through a bridge superstructure shaped like an "H". We end up zooming down a rural highway, passing farms and such. After we hit some fog, we are on a mountain road, flying over a pit, and we head down a "B" shaped tunnel. We end up on a desert road surrounded with gorges and cliffs at the other end, and we zoom into a truck with an "O" shaped, cylindrical tank, taking us through another transition. We end up zooming through a CGI rendering of "HBO City" from the 1982 opening, and into a skyscraper-filled downtown. Passing through the buildings with a lens flare effect, we travel down a freeway as lights quickly power up from behind some buildings, and then more lights activate ahead of us, The camera pans and takes us into an aerial view above the clouds, and we see the spotlights are outlining an HBO-logo shaped harbor. The 3D letters "FEATURE" go into place over the HBO logo, and a flash below that brings forth the word "PRESENTATION" on a black rectangle as we tilt above the HBO-harbor.

Variant: A shorter, much more common version of this logo was available, which starts off with the lights lighting up. The full version as described above is extinct and was retired on March 26, 2011, and was only shown on Friday & Saturday night premieres.

FX/SFX: Breathtaking CGI from Pittard Sullivan! A nice computer generated opener inspired by HBO's original stop-motion effort.

Music/Sounds: A re-orchestrated version of the 1982 fanfare that is longer and even more loud, powerful and dramatic than the original. During the 'HBO City" sequence, there are whooshes that can be heard from passing cars and buses.

Availability: After running 11 years, it's gone extinct. Check your recordings (probably on DVD-R or late VHS). Also appeared on most of the HBO multiplex channels from 2002 on (with the exception of HBO Family).

Scare Factor: None to minimal. Some people may be very put off by the fast pace of the bumper, but otherwise, while it may not be as memorable as the original 1982 HBO opener, it is still a great opening filled with spectacular computer graphics and an amazing, adrenaline-rushing fanfare. A very suitable successor.


13th Open
(April 2, 2011-July 4, 2014)
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Nicknames: "HBO 2011", "HBO Aurora", "Welcome to the 21st Century, HBO!", "HBOredom", "The Personification of All That is Corporate", "Yawn Box Office", "Home Boring Office"

Bumper: On a black background, a flash appears. Then, the flash turns into a blue aurora background and as it does so, the HBO logo on the left and the words "Feature Presentation" (set in Gotham Book) on the right appear.

FX/SFX: The flash. The animation in the bumper is done by Jesse Vartanian. It's smooth and clean, but......

Cheesy Factor: .....this intro is simply not as visually dazzling nor appealing as its predecessors. It's very corporate-looking, and appears as if it were simply made in just 10 minutes. Compare this to the 1982, 1987 and 1998 intros, which appeared to have (and, in the case of the 1982 bumper, had) a lot of time and effort put into it. Perhaps one of the worst bumpers of 2011.

Music/Sounds: A brief ascending section of strings, followed by an orchestrated version of the 12-note HBO fanfare. Not as epic as the fanfare from the previous logo.

Availability: Extinct and retired as of July 5, 2014. Like before, check your DVR recordings.

Scare Factor: None to low, but compared to its predecessors, it's a very boring bumper.


14th Open
(July 5, 2014-March 3, 2017)
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Nicknames: "HBO 2014", "HBOredom II", "The Second Personification of All That is Corporate", "Yawn Box Office II", "Home Boring Office II", "iPhone HBO", "The App Logo"

Bumper: On a black background, several squares containing clips of HBO movies and shows fade in and zoom down, forming a pattern, then zoom down lower and fade out. A chrome HBO logo flips in, followed by the text "Feature Presentation"(in the same font as above).

FX/SFX: The flipping.

Cheesy Factor: It still looks way too corporate, and also looks more suited for an iPhone app than something you see on TV (which is justified, as now bumpers are also used on HBO's streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now).

Music/Sounds: TBA

Availability: Retired as of March 4, 2017. Like before, check your DVR recordings.

Scare Factor: Same as before.

15th Open
(March 4, 2017-)
Edit

Nicknames: "The HBO City of Tomorrow", "HBO City III"

Bumper: We fade in to a small shot of a man holding a bowl of popcorn. As the camera pans to the right, we see him walking towards his wife, seen snuggling up with a blanket on a sofa. In the background we can see two sets of home plants, a desk lamp, a set of magazines, and two glasses of (what is believed to be) wine. On the wall, we see a canvas print of another apartment. Below the couch, a pair of shoes are visible. The man places the popcorn on a table, settles down with his wife, and turns on the TV. As we zoom out through a window, a suitcase-style turntable can be seen. Zooming further out of the apartment, we see a few more sets of apartment complexes. Another pair of shoes can be seen tangling from a telephone wire. Panning further to the right, we see two streetlamps. We then zoom out from the streets into the room of two teenage siblings; an older sister and a younger brother. The wall is covered with fan posters of various celebrities. Zooming further out, we see the sister on her bed, and the brother on a large cushion. The brother holds a tablet towards his sister. Zooming out even further, we reach a balcony. In it, a patio table and a bicycle can be seen. As the camera zooms further out, we zoom out into the living room of another apartment complex. This scene is basically a recreation of the 10th opening, with a few modern touches added (e.g. cushion couches on a rug next to a flat-screen TV, which is showing a portion of the 10th opening (the part where we zoom into the "O"). As we zoom out again, it is noticeable that the apartment complex is actually a home, nested on a floating brick lawn. More apartments and condominiums are nested next to the home. We zoom in to the living room of yet another apartment. The first thing noticed is the flat-screen TV, which is also showing the 10th opening. In it, a group of college students are seen on a couch, with one of them serving a snack. As we zoom out yet again, a man, holding his phone, can be seen on the balcony of yet another apartment. After that, the camera zooms out further and further. It is then revealed that the city is masked in the HBO logo, set over a dark sky background on a flat grassy plain, with a river shown beside it. The words "MOVIE PREMIERE" are seen below the logo. At this point, everything shown inside the towering logo is no longer noticeable in detail.

FX/SFX: There is so much detail that it is near impossible to describe everything going on in the logo. A truly breathtaking blend of live-action and CGI and an amazing homage to the 10th and 16th openings.

Music/Sounds: A re-orchestration of the 10th and 16th openings. We start off with three piano notes, then a set of strings add further power and adrenaline. The theme gets more intense as the logo progresses.

Availability: Debuted on February 28, 2017 as an unlisted video on HBO's YouTube channel. This logo premiered on HBO on March 4, 2017, before its premiere of X-Men: Apocalypse, and can be seen before new movies every Saturday night.

Scare Factor: None. The adrenaline-filled piece combined with the phenomenal animation make an absolute perfect combination.

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