Movies Bigger than the Big Screen - Cultural Phenoms

Mysto

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The other day a few of my friends were discussing things in the past that were monsters. Everyone was talking about them. Most are now forgotten. The original discussion started with Al Capp and the things he created in Lil Abner that became culture. Well the thought moved to TV and Movies of course. The first that came to mind was Davy Crockett. Starting as a TV show it was repackaged as a movie and was successful on both screens...in reverse. Everyone had a coonskin cap and the song was on the hit parade.

So how about you. What movies change the world for a time?



 
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TravisR

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In my lifetime, the biggest cultural phenomenon was Star Wars.

Probably the other biggest ones were Batman (1989) and Jurassic Park. In my memory, Batman was especially huge with people of all ages interested in the movie and products everywhere (music, shirts, toys, cards, magazines and even cereal).
 
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BobO'Link

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Easy Rider
A Hard Day's Night
Doctor No
2001 A Space Oddity
Planet of the Apes
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
 

Colin Jacobson

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In my lifetime, the biggest cultural phenomenon was Star Wars.

Probably the other biggest ones were Batman (1989) and Jurassic Park. In my memory, Batman was especially huge with people of all ages interested in the movie and products everywhere (music, shirts, toys, cards, magazines and even cereal).
Agree on "Star Wars" - and that "Batman" was massive in the culture circa 1989. Less so with "JP", which I viewed as more "popular movie" than "cultural phenomenon"...
 
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Colin Jacobson

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Not sure if movies for this thread need massive merch ala "Davy Crockett" and "Star Wars". If so, then these picks won't fly!

I'd vote for "Titanic", as it really dominated the cultural landscape for a while.

"ET" as well. It came with relatively little merch compared to "Star Wars" or "Batman", but it was one of those culture-defining hits, IMO...
 

Walter Kittel

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I think we all know the big films, they were big. :) I'll add Jaws to the mix. It was a massive phenomenon in the summer of '75. In addition to long lines and huge box office, there was a lot of coverage of the film in the popular media of the time - magazines and the major networks. Completely dominated the summer of '75 in a way that was only exceeded by Star Wars two years later.

Of course this was one of the films along with The Exorcist, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and the aforementioned Star Wars that changed the landscape of Hollywood.

- Walter.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I think we all know the big films, they were big. :) I'll add Jaws to the mix. It was a massive phenomenon in the summer of '75. In addition to long lines and huge box office, there was a lot of coverage of the film in the popular media of the time - magazines and the major networks. Completely dominated the summer of '75 in a way that was only exceeded by Star Wars two years later.
Good pick! "Jaws" literally altered behavior, as people became afraid to swim in the ocean!

It was also the first "real blockbuster" in the sense that we view it now...
 

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Harry Potter.

It encouraged an entire generation Y to actually still read books, and not waste all their waking hours on the computer over the late-1990s -> 2000s decade when the internet became ubiquitous concurrently with Harry Potter.
 
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I shudder to think how generation Y would have turned out if Harry Potter never happened.
 

Jake Lipson

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No one's said the MCU yet?
 

Colin Jacobson

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No one's said the MCU yet?
I thought about it, but left it off for a couple reasons.

That's 11 years of movies and not just one specific movie ala "Star Wars". Yeah, you can argue some of that flick's cultural impact comes from the sequels, but even if Lucas keeled over dead in 1979 and we never got another movie, "Star Wars" was still a massive cultural event.

No single MCU movie had the same impact. Sure, they sold a ton of tickets but it's not like "Endgame" dominated the culture for months.

Nor did any of the others, IMO. "Black Panther" may've had the biggest cultural impact for a few reasons: it's arguably the one that had the biggest groundswell of "grass roots" support, and it influenced culture in a way I don't think the others did. I have friends in their 40s who were interested in "BP" but not the other MCU flicks.

Within the African-American community, "BP" was intensely important. Not sure it had nearly as much impact beyond that...
 

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Harry Potter.

It encouraged an entire generation Y to actually still read books, and not waste all their waking hours on the computer over the late-1990s -> 2000s decade when the internet became ubiquitous concurrently with Harry Potter.
That's a case for the books to be regarded as a huge cultural deal but not the movies.

And I'd 100% agree that the books had a major impact on the culture. The movies did as well but that was just as an extension of the source - I wouldn't say they had a massive impact on their own...
 
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Jake Lipson

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The Lion King (the original) for my generation and, for this one, Frozen
 

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I’d have to go with Saturday Night Fever. It was the zenith of the disco era as disco permeated almost every form of entertainment along with fashion, nightlife , advertising , etc. Would love to hear from those who lived during that era to chime in and describe how big (or not) disco and Saturday Night Fever was as a cultural force.
 
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Walter Kittel

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Re: Saturday Night Fever - Yeah it was pretty big in terms of the disco era. I'm probably not the right person to talk about this film, because at the time I was heavily into the rock music of the late 60s and early 70s, so I wasn't the biggest proponent of disco music at the time, to put it mildly. :)

I've moderated my views since then, and grown to appreciate the influences disco had on music if nothing else; and there is no doubt that disco was a big phenomenon at the time. Did SNF help popularize the music? Did it ride the wave of disco to turn what was essentially a B movie into a cultural hit at the time? My recollection is that there was a synergistic effect that benefited both the film and the music. It certainly propelled John Travolta into much higher visibility prior to his career rebirth in Pulp Fiction.

Certainly a film that belongs in a list of films that permeate and dominate the culture of their times.

- Walter.
 

BobO'Link

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I fully agree with Walter. Disco was everywhere - much to the chagrin of those of us into rock as many rock groups released a song or two which were heavily influenced by or outright disco (looking at you Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Jethro Tull, Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, and others...). It was difficult to find clothing that wasn't in some way influenced by disco. It made its way into TV shows and movies - not just SNF (which was, essentially, disco in a nice, tight package).

The music and dance moves from that single movie were everywhere. Depending on which camp you were in, it was great or a huge laugh - the same with Travolta (who left Welcome Back Kotter after the success of the film - it wasn't until Pulp Fiction that many "regular" people began to take him seriously).

The soundtrack album is one of the top selling albums in history and the top selling soundtrack album of all time. There have been over 16 million copies sold in the US alone.

Disco was ultimately a flash-in-the-pan fad but that flash lasted for several years and had lasting influence (electronica, hip-hop, rap, all owe their existence to disco). SNF played a huge role in all of that.

As much as it pains me to say it, SNF absolutely belongs on such a list.
 

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Does Pulp Fiction belong on this list? Perhaps.
I remember a strong buzz about this film when it hit the theaters in the Fall of 1994. There was a good amount of spoofs on it and homages to it
on TV shows and elsewhere. I still remember how thrilled and full of joy I was walking out of the theater after seeing it for the first time- I’ve watched it several dozen times since.
 

BobO'Link

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Wonder why SNF became huge, but not other disco themed films like Xanadu.
Have you *seen* Xanadu? It's not a very good film.

The soundtrack by the Bee Gees helped SNF significantly. Even though I'm about as anti-disco as you can get, I like most of the music from the album (but I like the Bee Gees earlier charting pop material so that absolutely helps) and feel the movie isn't all that bad.
 

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Have you *seen* Xanadu? It's not a very good film.
Back in the day, I actually like Xanadu. :)

Though this is likely colored by my perception at the time, where it was one of the first few films I watched on my own. Basically misguided youthful experiences, which was heavily tainted.

If I saw this movie as an adult, I probably wouldn't think much of it.

The soundtrack by the Bee Gees helped SNF significantly. Even though I'm about as anti-disco as you can get, I like most of the music from the album (but I like the Bee Gees earlier charting pop material so that absolutely helps) and feel the movie isn't all that bad.
Even after the death of disco, I thought the Bee Gees music from that era held up quite well over the past 40 years.
 
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