Front cover image for Epics, spectacles, and blockbusters : a Hollywood history

Epics, spectacles, and blockbusters : a Hollywood history

Product Description: This title considers the history of the American blockbuster-the large-scale, high-cost film-as it evolved from the 1890s to today. The pantheon of big-budget, commercially successful films encompasses a range of genres, including biblical films, war films, romances, comic-book adaptations, animated features, and historical epics. In "Epics, Spectacles, and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History", authors Sheldon Hall and Steve Neale discuss the characteristics, history, and modes of distribution and exhibition that unite big-budget pictures, from their beginnings in the late nineteenth century to the present. Moving chronologically, the authors examine the roots of today's blockbuster in the 'feature', 'special', 'superspecial', 'roadshow', 'epic', and 'spectacle' of earlier eras, with special attention to the characteristics of each type of picture. In the first section, Hall and Neale consider the beginnings of features, specials, and superspecials in American cinema, as the terms came to define not the length of a film but its marketable stars or larger budget. The second section investigates roadshowing as a means of distributing specials and the changes to the roadshow that resulted from the introduction of synchronized sound in the 1920s. In the third section, the authors examine the phenomenon of epics and spectacles that arose from films like "Gone with the Wind", "Samson and Deliliah", and "Spartacus" and continues to evolve today in films like "Spider-Man" and "Pearl Harbor". In this section, Hall and Neale consider advances in visual and sound technology and the effects and costs they introduced to the industry. Scholars of film and television studies as well as readers interested in the history of American moviemaking will enjoy "Epics, Spectacles, and Blockbusters."
Print Book, English, ©2010
Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Mich., ©2010
vii, 363 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm.
9780814330081, 0814330088
1: Early films and early features, 1894-1911
2: Multireel features, epics, and roadshows, 1911-1916
3: Superspecials, specials, and programs, 1916-1927
4: Color, large screen, wide screen, and sound, 1894-1931
5: Tuners, spectacles, and prestige pictures, 1929-1939
6: Fewer but bigger, 1939-1949
7: Colossals and blockbusters, 1949-1959
8: Roadshows, showcases, and runaways, 1956-1970
9: Multiple jeopardy, 1965-1975
10: Super blockbusters, 1976-1985
11: Ancillary markets, globalization, and digital technology, 1986-2009
Name index
Title index
Subject index