Q&A: Peter Bogdanovich Discusses Changes in Movie Business

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Q&A: Peter Bogdanovich Discusses Changes in Movie Business
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Peter Bogdanovich at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco

Oscar nominee Peter Bogdanovich is a true Hollywood legend. Starting out as an actor, he discovered a passion for directing in his late teens. He won a Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video for "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream" and a BAFTA Film Award in the category of Best Screenplay for "The Last Picture Show," as well as several others.

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Bogdanovich received an offer to direct his first film by B-movie mogul Roger Corman. I had the opportunity to talk to Bogdanovich about "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel," a documentary in which directors and other associates shared their experiences working with the icon.

How is Hollywood different now than it was when you first started out in the business?

It's a whole different world. The studio system that worked very well for many years fell apart by the beginning of the 1960s. It was pretty much over then. There was a kind of jockeying for positions. Nobody quite knew what to do with the medium.

Things started to change when Roger made "The Wild Angels." That was the first counter-culture movie that made a lot of money. That eventually led to "Easy Rider." It also opened up the door to a whole different attitude about films. That changed the whole approach to movies really at that time.

"Bonnie and Clyde" came out in 1967, "Faces" in 1968, "Easy Rider" in 1969, "Five Easy Pieces" in 1970, and "The Last Picture Show" in 1971. It became a kind of renaissance with a new Hollywood.

That sort of changed again in the mid-1970s around 1976 with "Jaws" and "Star Wars." Everything changed again because the distribution pattern became different. Pictures didn't open in one or five theaters. They opened in thousands of theaters. That was a whole different approach which, unfortunately, led to where we are now.

[Now we have this] stupid tentpole thing and a hit parade of movies that do box office business. That never used to be in the interest of people except in Variety. Now it's all about what the first weekend [does] and so on. It hasn't been helpful to the quality of movies.

Talk to us a little bit more about that.

It all started to change in the end of the 1970s. It evolved as things do over time to the position we're in now. The studios are making these big, expensive, tentpole franchises, comic book, and CGI movies. If movies like "The Last Picture Show" are made at all, they're made as indie productions for very little money. It's a whole different kind of filmmaking now. The studios aren't making those kinds of films.

We made "The Last Picture Show" for an independent company. [It was] a company that was affiliated with Columbia Studios. Columbia released the picture. They didn't say, "It only cost $1.3 million. We don't want to release it." They released [it] and they made a fortune. This whole idea that you can only make a lot of money if the picture cost a lot of money is nutty.

For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:

Blu-ray Review: Roger Corman's 'Camel Spiders' Infests Your Household

'Camel Spiders' Actor Brian Krause Discusses Roger Corman Creature Feature

"Sharktopus" Blu-ray/DVD Movie Review

Eric Shirey is the founder and former editor of Rondo Award nominated movie news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other entertainment websites. Eric has interviewed and worked with actors like Harrison Ford, Brooke Shields, Gerard Butler, Brendan Fraser, Selena Gomez, and many more.

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