1. List and define the three unique concepts that Universal mobilized when releasing “Jaws”¯ in 1975.
Universal is the second oldest studio in Hollywood, which was based on Yankee Film Company (1909). The founder of Universal is Charles Lemley, who united efforts with Abe and Julius Stern. Since its foundation the company’s success was largely related to the fact that Lemley allowed to put the names of the actors in the credits. This allowed the company to sign contracts with many well-known artists of that time. In addition, it helped to create the so-called “star system”¯. Since the mid 1960’s Universal Studios became a modern full-cycle production, which had contracts with many leading directors and actors. (Hirschorn, 1983)
In the 1970-s the studio produced many hits, such as “Airport”¯, “The Sting”¯, “American Graffiti”¯, “Jaws”¯, “Alien”¯, “Back to the Future”¯ and “Jurassic Park.”¯ Particular attention should be given to the film “Jaws”¯, which became the first true blockbuster in the history of world cinema. In this film, director Steven Spielberg has embodied three main principles of successful films: a high- cost, high-speed, high-concept entertainment. Jaws was the first film, in which was successfully used the “wide release”¯ as an example of the distribution. Also, it is an important film in the history of film distribution and marketing. Before the release of “Jaws”¯, movies, typically were shown in a few theaters in major cities. “Jaws”¯ was the first film successfully presented nationwide on hundreds of screens, together with a national marketing campaign (a new practice at that time). The “Jaws”¯ film with a budget of $ 15 million collected 260 million in the U.S. only. (Hirschorn, 1983)
2. MCA’s Lew Wasserman helped define New Hollywood. What did Lew Wasserman do?
Lew Wasserman is the former owner of the company “MCA Universal”¯, who was one of the most important figures in American film industry in 1960-1990’s. Thanks Wassermann, “MCA”¯ began to represent the interests of actors and actresses, not just musicians. As the driving force in the corporation “MCA”¯ and the agent, responsible for finding work for people from the entertainment industry, Lewis has become the dominant persona in Hollywood, representing such stars as Bette Davis and Ronald Reagan. He had an unerring instinct, seeing actor’s talent a mile away, and his achievement was that he not only forced actors to work and improve their skills, but also tried to sell them more profitably. (Mcdougal, 2001)
Known as the “the father of Hollywood”¯, Wasserman has expanded the practice of the early talent agencies and gave actors opportunity to reach unprecedented heights in the media and cinema industry. Lew Wasserman was also the first to start negotiations on the participation of the actors in getting profits from the projects in which they played a major role. In addition, he has given birth to the first movie studios, managed by famous actors themselves. (Mcdougal, 2001)
Hirschorn, Clive. The Universal Story: The complete history of the studio and its 2,641 films. New York: Octopus Books Ltd., 1983.
Mcdougal D. The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA and the Hidden History of Hollywood. Da Capo Press, 2001