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Whatever Happened to The New Hollywood?
by Christopher Stone

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Launched The New Hollywood

Launched The New Hollywood
Often, when people sing the box office blues, they simultaneously chant, "Whatever Happened to The New Hollywood?" Whatever, indeed. Sadly, most of today's movie-goers don't even remember that brief, shining moment in motion picture history known as The New Hollywood.

Lasting from 1967-1977.The New Hollywood was marked by heightened motion picture creativity and a solid box office. It was a time in which Hollywood produced a high number of innovative films that went beyond the boundaries of convential studio pictures in both content and style. Some film historians think of The New Hollywood as the decade bridging the collapse of the Hollywood studio system, and the advent of the television trained studio chiefs. Others simply refer to it as the Hollywood Renaissance. No matter what you call it, The New Hollywood was a time when movies were still an art form, and the box office drew its customers in large numbers from all age groups, and not just from teen daters and young marrieds.

The New Hollywood coincided with a period of both prosperity and extraordinary social upheaval in American Society. From civil rights, race riots, and black power, to flower power, drug-taking, and Viet Nam, America was awakened, often rudely, other times, tragically, from its post World War II smugness and complacency.

New
A New Hollywood Classic

A New Hollywood Classic
Hollywood notably produced motion pictures that addressed important ideas and social concerns - sometimes exploring and exploiting social taboos.

Many credit Warren Beatty's BONNIE & CLYDE (1967) as the movie that ushered in The New Hollywood. Back then, the Hollywood studio system had run its course and then some. It had become a dinosaur stuck in tar, crippled, barely breathing. In The New Hollywood, The Auteur Directors (Beatty, Nichols, Scorcese, and Coppola, among them) were kings, and fabulous flicks such as TAXI DRIVER, THE GRADUATE, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, THE GODFATHER, JAWS, THE EXORCIST, and EASY RIDER, broke every Hollywood rule, making motion picture history in the process.

New Hollywood stars, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Faye Dunaway, Goldie Hawn, Dustin Hoffman, and Diane Keaton, among many others, unshackled themselves from long-term, relatively low paying, studio contracts, making pricey per picture deals, and forming their own production companies. They amassed fortunes and gained unprecedented control.

The box office held America's attention in a way no longer possible. There existed scant competition from home video, and most Americans had yet to discover cable television. Satellite service didn't exist. Nor, to any significant extent did home computers, iPods, PlayStation,
Box office Bomb That Nuked The New Hollywood

Box office Bomb That Nuked The New Hollywood
and the like.

The New Hollywood was a pre Diller, Eisner, and Katzenberg era. It was the time before Hollywood reverted back to a factory town grinding out remakes, sequels, comic strip heroes, and other high concept, simplistic fare. The New Hollywood was an era of substance over style. Certainly it was a time before the numbingly bland perfection of CGI.

The question remains: If The New Hollywood was marked by both creative and box office success, then whatever happened to it?

In the beginning, The New Hollywood auteurs made
movies on rather modest budgets that turned big profits. As the 1970s advanced, the budgets became immodest, extravagant, and, increasingly, the profits were smaller, or nonexistent. Finally, nuclear box office bombs including HEAVEN'S GATE, APOCALYPSE NOW, and REDS, helped end the Golden Age known as The New Hollywood.

Younger, television-trained studio executives including Diller, Eisner, and Katzenberg, wrestled power away from the likes of Beatty, Coppola, Scorsese, and the others, spelling the end of movies as an art form. Of the 1970s' superstar directors, only Spielberg transitioned intact and seamlessly into the new order, founding a major studio, Dream Works, in the process.

Movie lovers, as well as box office pundits, long for another Hollywood Renaissance.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.


Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns


Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.


Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.


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