New Players Essay, Research Paper
As a companion piece to the articles outlining the histories of the eight major film studios, this survey examines four relative newcomers to production: New Line, Orion, Miramax, and TriStar. They aren't studios in the classic sense; none have their own big lots where their films are shot. However, they all produce original and important films as well as distribute independent and foreign works. They're the new players in the brave new post-studio world of American film.NEW LINEThe New Line Cinema Corporation was founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye, its chairman and CEO. The company began releasing art films foreign and domestic, most notably Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy For The Devil (1968, aka One Plus One) and Wind From The East (1969). New Line struck gold when it released the notorious black comedy Pink Flamingos (1972), written and directed by John Waters and starring Divine. Besides then releasing Water's earlier features with Divine, Mondo Trasho (1969) and Multiple Maniacs (1970), New Line also financed Waters in new efforts: Female Trouble (1974) and Desperate Living (1977). In the '70s, the company also distributed several noteworthy Italian imports: Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea (1969) with Maria Callas; Lina Wertm?ller's political comedies The Seduction Of Mimi (1972) and All Screwed Up (1973); and Ettore Scola's classic black comedy about poverty, Down And Dirty (1976). New Line also released Wise Blood (1979), John Huston's adaptation of Flannery O'Connor. Cheap horror films for teenage audiences were a big source of income for New Line in the '80s, with such films as The Evil Dead (1983), written and directed by Sam Raimi; C.H.U.D. (1984), directed by Douglas Cheek; Critters (1986), directed by Stephen Herek; and above all, A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), written and directed by Wes Craven, which launched a highly lucrative series for New Line. The more-prestigious '80s releases included the punk-rock film Smithereens (1982), produced and directed by Susan Seidelman; the drama Corrupt (1983) with John Lydon and Harvey Keitel; John Waters' comedy of race relations in Baltimore during the '60s, Hairspray (1988); and writer/star Harvey Fierstein's comedy/drama of gay life and love, Torch Song Trilogy (1988) In the '90s New Line released many of its most important films. Writer/director Gus Van Sant made his landmark story of teenage hustlers, My Own Private Idaho (1991) with River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves; Abel Ferrara directed Christopher Walken in the crime film King Of New York (1990); and Allan Moyle wrote and directed his comedy/drama of teenage life, Pump Up The Volume (1990) with Christian Slater. The big profits, however, came with the children's action film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and its sequels. In 1991 the company formed the division Fine Line Features, releasing more-sophisticated fare such as Bitter Moon (1993) and Death And The Maiden (1994), both directed by Roman Polanski; the transgender western The Ballad Of Little Jo (1993), written and directed by Maggie Greenwald; and two films from director Robert Altman, the Hollywood send-up The Player (1992) and the Raymond Carver adaptation Short Cuts (1993). New Line continued to handle such important films as the David Mamet adaptation Glengarry Glen Ross (1992); the nightmare vision Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) by writer/director David Lynch; and the inner-city crime film Menace II Society (1993), directed by the Hughes Brothers. In 1993 the company became a subsidiary of the Turner Broadcasting System; both divisions have continued to operate impressively. Since its mega-hits with comic Jim Carrey, The Mask (1994) and Dumb and Dumber (1995), New Line has released director John Frankenheimer's horror film The Island Of Dr. Moreau (1996) with Marlon Brando; the Bruce Willis actioner Last Man Standing (1996), written and directed by Walter Hill; the angel comedy Michael (1996), directed by Nora Ephron and starring John Travolta; and the spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (1997), written by and starring Mike Myers. Fine Line has scored with the David Helfgott biopic Shine (1996) and writer/director David Cronenberg's adaptation of J.G. Ballard, the erotic drama Crash (1996). ORION Named after the five-star constellation of Orion, the Orion Pictures Corporation was formed in 1978 by five former top execs from United Artists: Mike Medavoy, Robert S. Benjamin, William Bernstein, Eric Pleskow, and Arthur Krim. The company found success with its early releases, notably the farce 10 (1979), written, produced, and directed by Blake Edwards, and the comedy A Little Romance (1979) with Laurence Olivier. The company was initially involved with Warner Bros., and several of its early hits — the comedies Caddyshack (1980) and Arthur (1981), the police drama Prince Of The City (1981) — were co-productions between the two studios. In 1982, Orion merged with the film and television company Filmways, Inc. The 1980s saw numerous successful films from Orion. Woody Allen wrote, directed, and sometimes acted in such memorable Orion releases as the comedies Zelig (1983), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1985), Hannah And Her Sisters (1986), and Radio Days (1987); the dramas September (1987) and Another Woman (1988); and the comedy/drama Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989). The studio also scored with the Sylvester Stallone actioner First Blood (1982); the Mozart vs.Salieri drama Amadeus (1984), directed by Milos Forman; director James Cameron's The Terminator (1984) with Arnold Schwarzenegger; The Cotton Club (1984), directed by Francis Coppola; the Vietnam War film Platoon (1986), written and directed by Oliver Stone; the sequel-spawning RoboCop (1987); the satires Something Wild (1986) and Married To The Mob (1988), both directed by Jonathan Demme; and the Kevin Costner films No Way Out (1987) and Bull Durham (1988). Orion also released such notable foreign films as Ran (1985), Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of King Lear; My Beautiful Laundrette (1986), directed by Stephen Frears; the dramatic fantasy Wings Of Desire (1987), written, produced, and directed by Wim Wenders; and the comedy Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (1988) by writer/director Pedro Almod?var. By 1990, Orion had two blockbusters to its credit: the Kevin Costner western Dances With Wolves (1990) and the thriller The Silence Of The Lambs (1990), directed by Jonathan Demme. But the studio was straining under severe financial losses from several '80s flops and had over-extended itself with ill-advised expansions; by the end of 1991, Orion had filed for bankruptcy. It continued releasing completed films, however, and the early '90s saw such quality Orion films as Woody Allen's Shadows And Fog (1992), the Lily Tomlin stage show The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe (1991), Blue Sky (1991) with Jessica Lange, the last film of director Tony Richardson, and the foreign films Rhapsody In August (1991), written and directed by Kurosawa, and Raise The Red Lantern (1992), directed by Zhang Yimou. In 1993 Orion was reinvigorated by forming a production partnership with Metromedia Company. Recent Orion releases through the Metromedia Entertainment Group include the crime film City Of Industry (1997) with Harvey Keitel and the black comedy 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag (1997) with Joe Pesci. MIRAMAXMiramax Films was founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 1979. The company built its reputation in the '80s, distributing art films, foreign and domestic, including the Danish comedy Twist And Shout (1986), directed by Billie August; Errol Morris' documentary The Thin Blue Line (1988); and the Irish biopic of Christy Brown, My Left Foot (1989). Miramax won "Best Foreign-Language Film" Oscars four years in a row: Bille August's Pelle The Conqueror (1988), writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso(1990), writer/director Xavier Koller's Journey Of Hope (1990), and Mediterraneo (1991), directed by Gabriele Salvatores. The company also hit big in 1989 with sex, lies And videotape, written and directed by Steven Soderbergh; that same year, Miramax began producing films with the British political drama Scandal. Miramax has continued releasing important foreign films in the States, including writer/director Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, And Her Lover (1990), Pedro Almod?var's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), director Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou (1991), director Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine (1992), and Miramax' mega-hit, writer/director Neil Jordan's The Crying Game (1992). The company has also scored with such American productions as the Madonna documentary Truth Or Dare (1991); the crime film Reservoir Dogs (1992), written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The Walt Disney Company acquired Miramax as an autonomous subsidiary in 1993. Its recent major releases include Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994); Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway (1994); the mystical actioner The Crow (1994), in which actor Brandon Lee lost his life; writer/director Jane Campion's The Piano (1994); the romantic drama The English Patient (1996), written and directed by Anthony Minghella; the horror film Scream (1996), directed by Wes Craven; and writer/director Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade (1996). TRISTARTri-Star Pictures was formed in 1982 by a trio of companies seeking to combine their venues: CBS represented broadcast television; HBO, cable television; and Columbia Pictures, theatrical films. Columbia soon became principal owner, when CBS left the partnership and HBO cut back on its share of the enterprise. Gary Hendler was the first president of Tri-Star and oversaw its initial 1984 films: the Allan Carr production Where Boys Are '84; the Bernard Malamud adaptation The Natural, directed by Barry Levinson; and Places In The Heart by writer/director Robert Benton. Over the decade Tri-Star had several major hits in action films: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Rambo III (1988), both with Sylvester Stallone; the fighter-pilot actioner Iron Eagle (1986); and Red Heat (1988) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by Walter Hill. Other notable releases were the Patsy Cline biopic Sweet Dreams (1985) with Jessica Lange; the time-travel fantasy Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and the military drama Gardens Of Stone (1987), both directed by Francis Coppola; the William Kennedy adaptation Ironweed (1987) with Jack Nicholson; the detective thriller Angel Heart (1987), written and directed by Alan Parker; the comedies Blind Date (1987) and Sunset (1988), both directed by Blake Edwards and starring Bruce Willis; the Civil War drama Glory (1989); the comedy series launched by director Amy Heckerling's Look Who's Talking (1989); and the feminist buddy film Steel Magnolias (1989), directed by Herbert Ross.Tri-Star and Columbia merged in 1987 and formed Columbia Pictures Entertainment, owned by Coca-Cola. Japan's Sony Corporation bought both studios in 1989 and set up Columbia and Tri-Star as self-contained financier/distributors under the leadership of Sony Pictures Entertainment (the new name of the parent company, beginning in 1991). Mike Medavoy, former co-founder of Orion, was chairman of Tri-Star from 1990 to 1993, during which time the company dropped the hyphen in its name and became TriStar. Medavoy oversaw such important releases as Avalon (1990) and Bugsy (1991), both directed by Barry Levinson; the Schwarzenegger blockbusters Total Recall (1990) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991); writer/director Oliver Stone's biopic of Jim Morrison, The Doors (1991); the erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992) with Sharon Stone; Woody Allen's Husbands And Wives (1992) and Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993); the biopic Chaplin (1992), directed by Richard Attenborough; the comedy Sleepless In Seattle (1993), directed and co-scripted by Nora Ephron; and Philadelphia (1994), directed by Jonathan Demme. Medavoy also saw TriStar through such less-rewarding high-budget efforts of 1991 as Hook, Steven Spielberg's reinvention of Peter Pan, and the notorious action/comedy flop Hudson Hawk with Bruce Willis. After Medavoy resigned early in 1994, Mark Canton became the chairman of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Companies. More recent hits include the comedy/drama Jerry Maguire (1996) with Tom Cruise, written and directed by Cameron Crowe, and the crime film Donnie Brasco (1997) with Al Pacino.