It’s hard to imagine Hollywood without Steven Spielberg. Spielberg’s career as a filmmaker serves as a perfect parallel for contemporary film history. From his humble beginnings outside the collection of University of Southern California wunderkinds to his commercial dominance at the multiplex, Spielberg did more than just make movies that wowed millions of people around the world: he also disrupted an entire industry, changing the way Hollywood approached filmmaking and establishing the format for blockbuster films that persists to this day.
In October 1984, when Back to the Future would’ve been in early-development stages, a producer gave a friendly suggestion to remedy one of the biggest flaws in the project. The script was “terrific”, everything was fine, but that title. Wouldn’t something along the lines of Space Man from Pluto have a smoother flow, make more sense to audiences, and convey what the movie’s actually about much more succinctly?
On June 20, 1975 a movie about an angry fish opened in about 500 theaters around the country. It was called Jaws, it was directed a guy named Steven Spielberg, it was scary as hell, and it changed the world forever. Its unique release strategy (wide instead of limited), intense television marketing campaign, and record-breaking box office essentially created the summer movie season (and made Spielberg a household name). 40 years later, regardless of its impact, Jaws remains a masterpiece, and a much better and more interesting movie than the vast majority of so-called summer blockbusters that it birthed.
There’s a running joke in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that Indy took his nickname from the family dog. That joke has some truth to it though because as George Lucas was developing Raiders of the Lost Ark, he actually named the character after his dog, Jones (the “Indiana” was a riff on Steve McQueen character Nevada Smith). Coincidentally, the same dog was the inspiration for Chewbacca in Star Wars. Need more Raiders of the Lost Ark facts? Throw us the idol and we’ll throw you the latest episode of You Think You Know Movies!
We all watch the Oscars for different reasons. Some watch for the sheer spectacle. Some watch to see if the movies they like actually win something. Some watch so they can drunkenly criticize what everyone is wearing. But in the end, it all comes down to all viewers doing the exact same thing: watching people thank other people for upwards of three hours. But which people have been thanked the most in 86 years of Oscar history? Someone with a lot of time on their hands decided to figure that out.
A lot of your favorite 80s classics have been rebooted or remade into not-so-classics. It's the unfortunate state of the movie business. But, today, we get one back. The proposed ‘Gremlins’ remake, that was on the “fast track” as recently as this past April, may be as dead as a Gremlin in a hot tub.
A couple of new movies hit the big screen today including the family-friendly Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer that stars Heather Graham and Jordana Beatty.
Since I'm a crazy aunt myself ... I have a feeling I may get a kick out of (or be embarrased by) all of the ditzy things Heather's character finds herself doing to entertain the kids.