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COMM 546 Lecture 10 The Blockbuster Mentality

COMM 546 Lecture 10 The Blockbuster Mentality - Dana Coen...

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Dana Coen COMM 546 (History of American Screenwriting) Spring, 2009 Lecture #10 THE BLOCKBUSTER MENTALITY Recap : With the success of “The Godfather I & II” and “The Conversation” .... Auteur Francis Ford Coppolla opens the door wide for a herd of young filmmakers and screenwriters. They cut their teeth .... ...on low-budget Corman films .... ...get their inspiration from the Malibu beach salons .... ...and find young executives willing to finance their visions. George Lucas scores big with “American Graffiti” .... ...while screenwriters Robert Towne and Paul Schrader find directing to be a less comfortable undertaking. Mel Brooks and Woody Allen stake their claim as the writer/director auteurs of comedy .... ...while William Goldman and Paddy Chayefsky show no interest anything other than writing scripts. Chayefsky hits his stride with two screenwriting Oscars for “Hospital” and “Network” ....
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2 ...but discovers an ugly truth about director auteurs .... ...when Ken Russell sabotages his intended masterpiece, “Altered States.” Stephen Spielberg...to the everlasting credit of screenwriter Carl Gottlieb...rises to auteur super-stardom .... ...with the blockbuster “Jaws.” George Lucas follows with “Star Wars.” Spielberg is on his heels with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” .... ...and Hollywood studio executives become dazzled by the profit potential of big budget films. On the other side of the issue, however, is the production drama surrounding Coppolla’s “Apocalypse Now” .... ...and Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate.” When that film’s 50 million dollar budget ends up in red ink on its studios books .... ...concerned executives at Paramount .... ...use their experience in television .... ...to devise strategies that will reign in the auteurs and control the narrative. Present :
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3 As we shift into the 80s .... ... studio executives are now reluctant be give a free ride to auteurs with special projects. They have to be as good as their last film .... ...and can no longer rest on their early successes. Many, like Dennis Hopper, disappear into the ether. Some, like SPIKE LEE, raise financing from their own communities . George Lucas simply becomes management. But the risk-taking Francis Ford Coppolla chooses to buy an entire Hollywood movie lot. Zoetrope Studios no longer exists on paper. Coppolla believes why play the studio’s game when you can be one yourself? Eager to direct the kind of movie musical Hollywood would never make .... ...Coppola goes into production on “One From the Heart”... He develops a unique television-influenced production approach in which video cameras capture the action ....
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4 ...while computers simultaneously plug in the backgrounds. But he’s a twenty-years ahead of his time. The process doesn’t impress anyone. ...the film doesn’t work .... ...it tanks at the box office ....
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