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Summer blockbusters — today and yesterday

To mark the 35th anniversary of the opening of Jaws, CMCI Lecturer and cultural historian Harvey G. Cohen appeared on the BBC Radio Wales Good Morning Wales programme to discuss the history and present reality of the summer blockbuster film. As students in Dr. Cohen’s Film and American Culture course know well, Jaws and Star Wars (1977) were the first Hollywood blockbuster films, with their emphasis on a teen audience, ancillary products, heavy use of TV marketing, happy endings, special effects and sequels. The Hollywood studios have followed this model closely ever since, particularly in their summer releases.

The host of Good Morning Wales seemed to be arguing that the summer blockbuster trend was fading, but Cohen disagreed, noting the hundreds of millions of dollars raked in already this season by Iron Man 2 (despite wasting a great cast) and Sex and the City 2 (despite the worst reviews of any major film this year). More blockbusters will drop upon us here in the UK as the summer unfolds: Toy Story 3, Shrek 4, another Twilight sequel, and the first film installment of the last Harry Potter book. In the current global economic recession, risk averse major Hollywood studios are playing it even safer than usual with lots of pre-sold familiar properties to lure in the punters.

Dr. Cohen’s brief appearance can be heard at the 1:55 point on the Tuesday edition of Good Morning Wales for the next week at this address:

By the way, don’t let the accompanying vintage movie poster put you off jumping in the ocean this summer, the water’s fine!


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