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Hey Paramount, please release Black Sunday (1977)

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#1 of 31 Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 20 2014 - 12:58 PM

Before The Silence of the Lambs, novelist Thomas Harris wrote a book about terrorists attempting to blow up the Super Bowl. The resulting movie was directed by John Frankenheimer and starred Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, and Marthe Keller. The final scenes with the Goodyear blimp and the helicopter are as compelling as you can get without CGI.

The movie has been released on DVD and iTunes in HD. How about a blu-ray release to capitalize on Bruce Dern's Oscar nomination?

Besides, it's the one chance we get to see a terrorist plot involving the Cowboys and Steelers!

#2 of 31 Ejanss

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Posted February 20 2014 - 03:20 PM

Just finished it a week ago--I'd think it was the "inspiration" for 9/11, if I thought that Iraqi terrorists watched American movies from the 70's.  (They probably do and just think they're "current" and serious.  ;) )

I'm not sure WHY Robert Shaw is doing his scary-Irish Doyle Lonnegan voice as an Israeli agent, but think this's one of the two movies (haven't seen "Tattoo") that finally pushed Bruce Dern over the edge about his "I'm always the psycho!" typecasting in the early 80's.  It's a little embarrassing.

 

It's a time capsule from when we were just starting to capitalize on Super Bowl Fever, but it's...okay, as 70's movies go.



#3 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 20 2014 - 03:57 PM

It was a sure flop in Theatres. It was released in the days of Blind Bidding when Theatres in a town would bid on a film. The theatre company that bid the largest Guarantee and/or advance, and the highest film percentage got the honor of playing film. Our head Film Buyer was so sold on this with the cast and story that our company way over bid and to this day it is a good idea not to mention this title around him.
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#4 of 31 Radioman970

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Posted February 20 2014 - 04:18 PM

I can't believe it was a flops.  that's one of my favorite movies ever.  Turned me into a Bruce fan.  I drew a picture of the blimp descending to the statium... or maybe that was the Hindenburg...  I can't remember.  I loved it though.  Regardless, it's a great film.  I'd replace my DVD with a blu. 


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#5 of 31 Ejanss

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Posted February 20 2014 - 04:46 PM

I can't believe it was a flops.  that's one of my favorite movies ever.  

 

I have dim memories of it having...SOME degree of box office.  

 

(At least, enough to merit a Mad Magazine spoof:
"Quick, there's the Goodyear blimp, shoot it down!"
"You can't shoot it down, it's full of helium!"
"Then shoot it up!")

 

Turned me into a Bruce fan. 

 

Only time I'd seen Bruce Dern in the 70's was from Hitchcock's "Family Plot", where his character wasn't a loopy psycho, but his manic look, midwest delivery and squirrelly grin worked perfectly for the character.  I never understood why Dern was always so crabby about his typecasting, but seeing this one, okay, he's got a point.



#6 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 20 2014 - 05:00 PM

I can't believe it was a flops. that's one of my favorite movies ever. Turned me into a Bruce fan. I drew a picture of the blimp descending to the statium... or maybe that was the Hindenburg... I can't remember. I loved it though. Regardless, it's a great film. I'd replace my DVD with a blu.


Not necessarily a flop for Paramount but for Theatres that were expecting another Jaws, which is what Paramount compared it to as it was sold through the Blind Bidding process. The film did not meet the boxoffice expectations of the theatre owners who put up huge Guarantees with out seeing one frame of film. Blind Bidding was when a film distributor would send a solicitation for bids to play a title with only telling the theatre booking staff the name of the movie, stars, director, plot, and release date. Many states outlawed this practice in the late 70's and early 80's. And all titles are screened and sold without bids since.

Bidding and playing films in Theatres is a very rich history that continues to change.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#7 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 20 2014 - 05:01 PM

And I enjoyed the film for I was not swayed by the hype. A good Blu would be good.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#8 of 31 Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 20 2014 - 05:11 PM

Bruce Dern may have been typecast after Black Sunday, but it is only a reflection of the power of his performance.

#9 of 31 Ejanss

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Posted February 20 2014 - 05:14 PM

Not necessarily a flop for Paramount but for Theatres that were expecting another Jaws, which is what Paramount compared it to as it was sold through the Blind Bidding process. The film did not meet the boxoffice expectations of the theatre owners who put up huge Guarantees with out seeing one frame of film. Blind Bidding was when a film distributor would send a solicitation for bids to play a title with only telling the theatre booking staff the name of the movie, stars, director, plot, and release date. Many states outlawed this practice in the late 70's and early 80's. And all titles are screened and sold without bids since.

Bidding and playing films in Theatres is a very rich history that continues to change.

 

Think bidding switched to screening or condensed "excerpt" reels after that--Wasn't a case of the "Highest bidder", but with theaters only having three screens, the theaters in town had to pick, choose and delegate.
I remember having a conversation with a theater bidder in 1981 who had just turned down the "worst movie he'd ever seen", and warned me a month ahead of time to stay away from some "Time bandits" thing he'd just sat through.   ;)



#10 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 20 2014 - 05:54 PM

Think bidding switched to screening or condensed "excerpt" reels after that--Wasn't a case of the "Highest bidder", but with theaters only having three screens, the theaters in town had to pick, choose and delegate.
I remember having a conversation with a theater bidder in 1981 who had just turned down the "worst movie he'd ever seen", and warned me a month ahead of time to stay away from some "Time bandits" thing he'd just sat through. ;)


All my years as a booker I never saw a frame of film for a blind bid when it was legal in Louisiana. At the end of Blind Bidding it switched to negotiated buying where the distributor would negotiate a deal with a theatre company it thought would be the best for the film. An example was that Fox for Porky's 3 would only negotiate in Theatres that were in malls and not free standing. If they could not come to an agreement then the distributor would go to another theatre company. However at the end of the engagement, if the film did not gross them the terms were re-negotiated. That is not the way it is today.
"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#11 of 31 Jeffrey Nelson

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Posted February 20 2014 - 06:30 PM

This film is excellent right up until the climax, which is severely hampered by special effects and process shots not even up to standards of the time. But I'd definitely pick up a Blu.

#12 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 20 2014 - 11:18 PM

This film is excellent right up until the climax, which is severely hampered by special effects and process shots not even up to standards of the time. But I'd definitely pick up a Blu.


Agree and will also pick it up if it becomes available.
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#13 of 31 AdrianTurner

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Posted February 21 2014 - 12:06 AM

A rather strange movie this, like the similarly themed Little Drummer Girl with Diane Keaton.  I regard it more of a Vietnam movie than a Mid-East terror movie because so much is made of Dern's psychotic war vet schtick.  In this regard it's in the same box as Taxi Driver and many others.  There is one brilliant scene - when they blow up the wooden building in the desert.  And what about Marthe Keller - Bobby Deerfield, Fedora, her star shone so very briefly like so many European actresses do.  

 

I've always admired Frankenheimer - I saw Seconds only two days ago.   That stands up very well, I think. 



#14 of 31 Lord Dalek

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Posted February 21 2014 - 07:12 AM

Its the funny thing about Blind Bidding... Paramount successfully sells Black Sunday to theater owners as being the next Jaws and it belly flops. A few weeks later, nobody wants to buy a little movie called Star Wars and it becomes the biggest hit of all time.



#15 of 31 Ejanss

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Posted February 21 2014 - 08:19 AM

Its the funny thing about Blind Bidding... Paramount successfully sells Black Sunday to theater owners as being the next Jaws and it belly flops. A few weeks later, nobody wants to buy a little movie called Star Wars and it becomes the biggest hit of all time.

 

And of course, Star Wars was another famous example of 70's big-studio bidding weaselry--

Everyone wanted the steamy big-budget "The Other Side of Midnight" adaptation, but Fox said that if theater bookers wanted it, they HAD to contractually book this little kiddie spaceship picture that would probably do a week tops...



#16 of 31 atfree

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Posted February 21 2014 - 08:58 AM

I have dim memories of it having...SOME degree of box office.  

 

(At least, enough to merit a Mad Magazine spoof:
"Quick, there's the Goodyear blimp, shoot it down!"
"You can't shoot it down, it's full of helium!"
"Then shoot it up!")

 

 

Only time I'd seen Bruce Dern in the 70's was from Hitchcock's "Family Plot", where his character wasn't a loopy psycho, but his manic look, midwest delivery and squirrelly grin worked perfectly for the character.  I never understood why Dern was always so crabby about his typecasting, but seeing this one, okay, he's got a point.

I saw this in theaters on release day.....at 14 years old I was psyched to see this as it had been advertised so much. I was amazed to enter a theater on a Friday night at 7pm on first day of release and find myself and my Dad and only about 25 other people in the theater. I did some research today.....only box office figures I could find was Box Office Mojo, which stated it grossed $15 million. Not sure what the budget was but considering that Star Wars budget was $13 million, I'd figure this one was around $10M. In any event, this was a big disappointment for Paramount.


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#17 of 31 Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 21 2014 - 10:37 AM

I also saw this in the theater with my father, but at age 12. It wasn't very crowded, but the audience was vocal...they applauded when Robert Shaw shot Marthe Keller.

I actually think the choreography and editing of the blimp going into the stadium are pretty good.

#18 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 21 2014 - 02:06 PM

And of course, Star Wars was another famous example of 70's big-studio bidding weaselry--
Everyone wanted the steamy big-budget "The Other Side of Midnight" adaptation, but Fox said that if theater bookers wanted it, they HAD to contractually book this little kiddie spaceship picture that would probably do a week tops...


I have disagree with that. It was against the Paramount Degree of 1948 to block book titles. As was splitting films between theatre companies. The circuit I worked for bought Midnight through blind bidding, just as we did Star Wars. They were not attached. While today there is very little teeth in that justice ruling in the 70's it was still in full force.

#19 of 31 PeterOd

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Posted February 21 2014 - 04:54 PM

I am a film buyer now for theaters.  Sometimes I think blind bidding would be easier then paying some of the terms that are out there today.  If most people knew what theaters paid on Hunger Games or Frozen, their jaws would drop.  The days of the 70 60 50 40 35 floor terms are gone.  Most studios are now doing scaled percentages for duration of runs.  And some of the mega blockbuster terms are absolutely brutal.  Keep asking yourself why concession prices are what they are.  I have a theater owner who sadly says, "We aren't in the selling films business.  We are in the selling popcorn business."  That is what Stan Durwood's AMC Legacy did for theaters...  The multiplex.  The ruination of the exhibition industry.



#20 of 31 ahollis

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Posted February 21 2014 - 07:41 PM

I am a film buyer now for theaters. Sometimes I think blind bidding would be easier then paying some of the terms that are out there today. If most people knew what theaters paid on Hunger Games or Frozen, their jaws would drop. The days of the 70 60 50 40 35 floor terms are gone. Most studios are now doing scaled percentages for duration of runs. And some of the mega blockbuster terms are absolutely brutal. Keep asking yourself why concession prices are what they are. I have a theater owner who sadly says, "We aren't in the selling films business. We are in the selling popcorn business." That is what Stan Durwood's AMC Legacy did for theaters... The multiplex. The ruination of the exhibition industry.


I been involved with film buying for the past 35 years and yes the terms are brutal today but you know your yearly film rental will be around 53.5%. During the blind bid days your film rental could be and sometimes was 130%, if the gross did not meet the guarantee. Which is what happened to many Theatres playing BLACK SUNDAY. ORCA was another film the guarantees were higher than most individual theatre box office. The film company got the Guarantee and the theatre got the red ink.

And yes the Mega-Plex ruined the exhibition business for long run engagements.





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