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Presentation on theme: "FILM 2700: HISTORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE PROFESSOR SHELDON SCHIFFER"— Presentation transcript:

Office hours: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM Daily Office: 25 Park Place South – Room 1023 phone:

2 [Lecture 12 Slides] Hollywood Learns How to Lose and Get Back an Audience: The Rise of American Independent Cinema and TV The huge audiences of the 1940s and early 1950s were shrinking due to the retreat to suburbs and rise of television. Lingering recession and social unrest due to Civil Rights protests and opposition to the Vietnam War distracted audiences from the spectacular films that Hollywood produced. Generational differences fueled leisure time and youth-oriented consumerism further alienated youth from establishment film production. Hollywood audiences declined to their lowest point in its history.

3 Historical Question 13.1 What societal, economic and financial conditions caused Hollywood audiences to decline?

4 Studio Slates and Contemporary US Society
The late 1950s and into the 1960s, Hollywood studios competed at making ever more expensive and spectacular films, but fewer films expecting and needing larger box office grosses. Musicals and historicals were the primary product. Note that they didn’t play well TV. Comedies with expensive rat pack stars: Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin also added to the slate. But these did not connect to the issues of the most able to see films: youth, years old. Declining audiences who retreated suburban televisions and drive-in theaters could not reward with enough profit.

5 Studio Slates and Contemporary US Society
Theaters were too large and located in urban centers to attract enough viewers. Studios made fewer low budget genre films for niche audiences, and instead left those films for smaller and foreign companies. The one bright spot that was a sign of change: low budget  independent films about wild youth reacting to authority and establishment:

6 Some Famous Financial Disasters for Studios
Cleopatra (1963) - 20th Century Fox loses $40 million Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - MGM loses $20 million

7 Some Famous Financial Successes for Studios
Sound of Music (1965) Robert Wise - 20th Century Fox BO gross $100 million Lawrence of Arabia (1962) David Lean - Columbia BO gross $100 million Westside Story (1961) Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise -  Seven Arts/Warner Bros./United Artists BO gross $43 million

8 Financial Status for Studios
Studios by 1970 were in great debt and Hollywood was in recession. Meanwhile independents exploited the opening of need to redefine the core audience and the production and narrative style to attract it.

9 Historical Question 13.2 How did Hollywood integrate American variations of Neo-Realism and the New Wave to regain its audiences?

10 Synthesizing Classical Hollywood Style with European Art Cinema
To express these changing ideas and values against convention, filmmakers tapped the formal modes of European Neo-Realism, the New Wave and Modernist cinematic aesthetics. But, familiar Classical Hollywood style integrates with Modernist practices. The Rain People (1969)   The Conversation (1974) Francis Ford Coppola

11 Films About Relationships that Rebel Against Convention
The Graduate (1967) Mike Nichols – about college student who has an affair with the mother of his girlfriend who her parents won’t let him marry. The Rain People (1969) Francis Coppola – a housewife picks up a brain-damaged drifter and reconsiders all the plans of her life.| Petulia (1968) Richard Lester – a couple with child breaks up and divorces and replans their lives, despite all the expectations. The Last Picture Show (1971) Peter Bagdonovich - 50's high schoolers come of age with sex, rock and alcohol in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas

12 Film About Friends or Lovers Who Use Crime to Express Rebellion
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – about the criminal pair who robbed from institutions and routed the law, then escaped to Bolivia, South America. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Arthur Penn – about the criminal pair who robbed for fun, and died in a police ambush The Wild Bunch (1969) Sam Peckinpah – about a criminal gang of Americans who compete with a Mexican gang for regional influence. Badlands (1973) Terrence Malick – about an isolationist couple who elect to retreat from society, but who are on the run after they kill the father of the girl in the pair. Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorcese – a paranoid NY cabbie regains his self-esteem by killing would be petty criminals that the law fails to incarcerate

13 Neo-Realism & New Wave Synthesize Into Hollywood
Even in the more genre oriented films, the same synthesizing modes of Classical Hollywood and European Neo-Realism + New Wave changed the aesthetic. Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin – horror – a priest releases a demon from a possessed young woman The Godfather (1972) Francis Coppola – crime – a family of New York Italian gangsters purge and advance young men into the next generation of leaders M*A*S*H (1972) Robert Altman – war – a Korean War camp hospital is the setting for an ensemble of mental misfits whose neuroses creates an alternative society then the expected military unit 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969) Stanley Kubrick – sci-fi – an astronaut must disable an intelligent computer that wants to rebel against human will American Graffiti (1973) George Lucas – youth rebellion -  50s  teens take one special rebellious night together before parting before college

14 Historical Question 13.3 How did the U.S. government step in to help resuscitate Hollywood?

15 US Government Assists With Tax Credits
As the recession of the 1970s lingered, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service of United States) changed laws (at behest of Congress) for the studios that: Enabled them to reclaim tax credits retroactively back to the 1960s Also, tax shelters were legalized to allow investments to be declared as deductions for long term losses against profits to off-set taxable income [Both are now rescinded since 1976]

16 Historical Question 13.4 What age group has provided Hollywood the most steady box office return, and what primary strategy does Hollywood use to keep that age group watching its films?

17 Studios Discover the Youth Niche is the Eternal Vein of Gold
The lesson Hollywood learned is that so long as films reflected the anxieties of youth, the audience most able to freely go theaters, then box office returns will expand.

18 Formula Genres for Youth Attraction
Monsters : Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg Music: Saturday Night Fever (1976) John Badham Super-Heroes/Comics: Superman (1978) Richard Donner Sci-Fi (with Toys): Star Wars (1976) George Lucas (auxiliary product marketing) Sci-Fi (with video games): Tron (1982) Steven Lisberger Disaster: The Poseidon Adventure (1972) Ronald Neame Horror (/Sci-Fi):  Alien (1979) Ridley Scott and Carrie (1976) Brian de Palma   Crime/Noir: Chinatown (1974) Roman Polanski Sport: Rocky (1976)  John Avildsen

19 Formula Genres for Youth Attraction
With the youth ( ) attractive genres in place as “tentpoles” to hold up the circus of a studio, what excess capital remains, all other films and genres can get made.

20 Historical Question 13.5 How did Lew Wasserman, and the impact of the talent agent effect the financing of films?

21 The Rise of the Agent and Packaging
Lew Wasserman, innovated the concept of the package deal, where films were put together by director-actor-script packages within the same agency. These packages are what are marketed as a unit-property to investors. By consolidating the creative human elements, plus the script or writer (if script is unwritten), then the film property (however unfinished) becomes a more predictable risk for investors.

22 The Rise of the Agent and Packaging
This allows slates of films that combine varieties of genres together to be analyzed by investors as whole portfolio. What Up Doc? (1973) Peter Bagdonovich, Wasserman’s first deal package Now, a standard operating procedure.

23 Historical Question 13.6 What recycled trends continue to impact Hollywood from the 1980s forward?

24 Resurgent American Art Cinema
John Cassavettes – A Woman Under the Influence (1974) – driven by the impulse of cathartic method acting, and the art of pure character driven stories. Shoots fiction films with improvisational Direct Cinema aesthetics Jim Jarmusch – Stranger than Paradise (1984) – references New Wave aesthetics with contemporary characters and situations that seem to be reincarnated from earlier in the mid-20th century Spike Lee – She’s Gotta Have It (1986) – creates stories that engage the problems of race politics within interpersonal that imply socio-political relationships.

25 The 1980s and into the Present
The cycle of recessionary times triggering reliance on tentpoles continues. During these same times, new venues opened up for low budget projects. During the 1990s the proliferation of VHS/Beta video fueled new capital for low budget production for new directors. New directors rose on low budget projects with experimental approaches that recycled old and new aesthetics, from Classical Hollywood, to 1960s revamped Hollywood, to European Neo-Realism and the New Wave.

26 The 1980s and into the Present
Two names and films worth noting that demonstrate a bridge between art cinema and Hollywood: Marting Scorsese – Wolf of Wall Sreet (2013) Quentin Tarentino – Django Unchained (2013) Both directors look forward and backward, experimenting with new approaches while referencing old ones.


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