Bruno’s Recitation, 3/7, 2PM

So we saw Star Wars on Tuesday and this period emerges in which movies become “Blockbusters” meaning that they become successful in gaining an immense amount of profits.  The Blockbuster period is approximated from 1975-1985, after the release of Jaws in 1975 by Steven Spielberg which exceeded $100,000,000 in ticket sales. In order to sell tickets, a plot that promises a form of ‘spectacle’ is more important than the star or the name of the director. Then comes this idea of ‘High Concept’. A high concept script must be universal and easy to relate to; have a fresh twist and a protagonist who is in a situation; and must be summed up in a 25 word logline that allows the audiences to get a good sense of what the movie is about. Many see this as a marketing gimmick. And what the blockbusters have become today makes the term even more undeterminable.

Certain actors who have been no-namers are instantly elevated to stardom while other actors who have already achieved this status become “crowd pleasers” who have the ability to attract a certain number of audiences. But essentially, the blockbusters came before the stars.

We also talked about what factors are needed to categorize a movie as a blockbuster.Blockbusters mean numbers in the literal sense. A movie makes a block to explode because of the great amount of audiences standing in line. We also determined that blockbuster movies are not only about special effects that have multimedia products like Jaws or Star Wars or Rocky etc.

We also discussed what are called ‘sleeper hits’. When a film, usually made on a low-budget, is particularly successful or exceeds the expectations of the films in its genre, then those films are blockbusters as well, but not in the original sense of the word. Some ‘sleeper hits’ are Ghost, starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, and Steel Magnolia starring Julia Roberts. They are also smaller films that relied on word of mouth rather than advertising.

Schatz reading :
New hollywood: post-1975 period.
The first “New Hollywood” film is Jaws.
Fragmented entertainment games
It was an important time period for film because it made new standards for later motion pictures after the release of Jaws.
Jaws was special because of its shocking promotional poster that was unconventional and the tv radio ads that were released with John Williams’ famous track. It was a summer hit that changed how directors began to tailor to audiences. There was also increased reliance on technological elements, special effects and star value. To commercialize these movies, marketing costs increased because of the incorporation of 30 sec spots into tv advertising.

Kael reading:

Kael believes that there is too much reliance on the numbers. The numbers cannot accurately determine whether a movie is good or bad. Even if the movie is bad, it can be up there in the box office because many people want to see it for themselves after hearing that a certain movie is bad.

With tv advertising, the plot becomes over-simplified and dummies down the audiences because it must be condensed in order for the film to fit into the 30 sec. spot. Kael also criticized that what ended up being released in theaters was a product after the original shred of quality had been diminished by all the rewrites and interferences from the company. Someone also brought up a good point about how movie characters in many of the sequels and threequels are becoming more like tv characters in the way the audiences are led to follow their lives.


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