We began the recitation by viewing a clip from The Sound of Music and proposed the question of whether or not the film could be considered a blockbuster. To help better understand the question and come to an agreed upon answer, we next had a presentation on Schatz’s article “The New Hollywood”. Following the presentation on Schatz, we discussed his opinions of what form a blockbuster and what he considers to be the three stages of Hollywood. These were the time periods of 1946 to 1955, 1956 to 1965, and 1966 to 1975.
Discussing as a class what we thought the definition of a blockbuster was, and whether films like The Sound of Music (1965) and Star Wars (1977) were Blockbusters or not, we looked at Schatz’s rules that a blockbuster film must meet. These were that only star vehicles with solid production value stood a chance at the box office, that a hit at the box office requires a lot of upfront spending on marketing and production, and that it must be marketing of several different types of media and entertainment.
On the topic of High Concept films, and how they simplify the ability of marketers to streamline marketing campaigns, we looked at the now iconic poster for Jaws (1975). Additionally we looked at how Jaws started setting the stage for the age of blockbusters that was to follow, especially in that the film was presold as a novel, as well as how it proved that franchising was a viable option for studios to incorporate into their business strategy.
Following our discussion of Jaws, we discussed whether or not it had actually started the trend of the blockbuster considering the big name franchises that had preceded it, for example the James Bond franchise. After watching the opening scene of the James bond film Goldfinger (1964), the class discussed if movies like the James Bond series, should be considered blockbusters. The recitation concluded with a presentation on Pauline Kael’s article “Why Are Movies So Bad? Or, The Numbers,” looking at examples in trailers for blockbusters such as Alien (1979).