The American Movie Industry: The Business of Motion Pictures

By Gorham Anders Kindem | Go to book overview

15
Film Conglomerate Blockbusters: International Appeal and Product Homogenization

Joseph D. Phillips

The American film industry's search for formulas with international appeal has led to an increasing reliance on standardized "spectaculars." A small number of film companies have traditionally dominated the American film industry and in turn the international film market outside the socialist countries. This situation has resulted from the size of the U.S. market for films, the historical advantage that this has given the U.S. film companies, and the nature of the film industry. These circumstances have tended toward a resurgence of concentration and centralization in the film industries of the advanced capitalist countries and toward a greater homogenization of the product.

When Roger Lewis, the former vice president in charge of advertising, publicity, and exploitation at United Artists, went into independent film production in 1961, he began to put together the picture The Pawnbroker. He did not have the money to take an option on the book, but he had a director who was interested in it, and the two of them got actor Rod Steiger excited about doing the film. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer started to advance some money to develop a screenplay, but soon decided to withdraw from the project. This left Lewis with a choice between suing a major film company and trying to go on by himself. He then went to his old company United Artists and presented the project to David Picker. Lewis's account of what happened follows:

At that time, I had it budgeted for about $400,000. David liked it very much, fought through management for it, and finally got a

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