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Rebeccas

The Sound of Music & Doctor Zhivago (1965)

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I don't see a topic for either of these movies, but it's pretty incredible that these two films came out in the same year and are still currently respectively the #3 and #8 adjusted highest grossing films of all time (or #5 and 8 if you're going Worldwide). The Sound of Music became the highest grossing film at that point too, until it was again dethroned by a later GWTW re-release. Neither were particularly critically acclaimed upon initial release, both got sort of mixed reviews, but Sound of Music in particular become one of those films that gets played on TV at least once a year.

 

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I think they were the last giant hits of the old studio system before it crumble in the late 60s. Because of the emergence of TV in the early 50s, Hollywood invested in giant musicals and giant historical epics to bring audiences back and Sound of Music and Zhivago were probably the last 2 big ones of this trend. Which was more of the industry backbone than a trend. Overall admissions numbers kept falling but these few gigantic movies released as roadshows with premium ticket price were making the majority of the industry's money until they weren't and it crashed.

 

Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 60s is a pretty interesting book, it focuses primarily on musicals and Sound of Music but it also talks a bit about the state of the industry in the 60s and why that system crashed.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Joel M said:

I think they were the last giant hits of the old studio system before it crumble in the late 60s. Because of the emergence of TV in the early 50s, Hollywood invested in giant musicals and giant historical epics to bring audiences back and Sound of Music and Zhivago were probably the last 2 big ones of this trend. Which was more of the industry backbone than a trend. Overall admissions numbers kept falling but these few gigantic movies released as roadshows with premium ticket price were making the majority of the industry's money until they weren't and it crashed.

 

Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 60s is a pretty interesting book, it focuses primarily on musicals and Sound of Music but it also talks a bit about the state of the industry in the 60s and why that system crashed.

 

 

Right and it almost draws parallels to today, where TV is once again becoming big competition and the few big movies are giant blockbuster spectacles. Except instead of historical war/romances, it's superheroes and Star Wars. Interestingly, 2015 was another monster year where both JW and TFA broke the OW record within a few months of each other.

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Funnily enough, The Sound of Music only came to be due to a German movie about the story. It was a giant success, with an estimated 27m admisions in Germany, equal to the modern day record of Jungle Book, though back then the movie-going numbers were quite different so the comparison doesn't quite work. It also did decently in France (2.85m admissions) and was also released in the US. As was the sequel, which wasn't anywhere near as successful but still did quite well.

 

That's when some americans bought the rights to turn the story into a broadway-play and later a movie. The movie ended up as no.1 alltime in the US, UK and 28 other countries, but saw less admissions than the German original in France (2.2m compared to 2.85m) and was a colossal flop in Germany itself, even though that's where the original came from. It only saw an estimated 80k admissions and made less money for the studio than the costs for the copies were.

 

Doctor Zhivago, on the other hand, was a huge hit in Germany.

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9 hours ago, George Parr said:

Funnily enough, The Sound of Music only came to be due to a German movie about the story. It was a giant success, with an estimated 27m admisions in Germany, equal to the modern day record of Jungle Book, though back then the movie-going numbers were quite different so the comparison doesn't quite work. It also did decently in France (2.85m admissions) and was also released in the US. As was the sequel, which wasn't anywhere near as successful but still did quite well.

 

That's when some americans bought the rights to turn the story into a broadway-play and later a movie. The movie ended up as no.1 alltime in the US, UK and 28 other countries, but saw less admissions than the German original in France (2.2m compared to 2.85m) and was a colossal flop in Germany itself, even though that's where the original came from. It only saw an estimated 80k admissions and made less money for the studio than the costs for the copies were.

 

Doctor Zhivago, on the other hand, was a huge hit in Germany.

The "Some Americans" were Rodgers and Hammerstein,then pretty much the kings of the American Musical Theater. Their names on a show were almost always enough to guarantee a hit, and any Rodgers and Hammerstein show which was ahit was instantly snapped up by Hollywood.

Rodgers and Hammestein got billed right above the movie title in Advertising. That is how popular they were in the 60's.

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The nickname for "Music" at Fox was "The Mint" because it made so much money over a long  period of time.

 

Although "Lawrence of  Arabia" is considered David Lean's Masterpiece, "Dr Zhivago" was a much,much more successful film at the box office. it made Lean a rich man, able to only do projects he wanted to do.

And MGM rerealeased it a number of times in the late 60's and early 70's;it helped them survive their de facto bankruptcy. A 1972 rerelease brought money into MGM at a time when they had no films coming out because they had no money to produce new movies.

Edited by dudalb
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23 minutes ago, dudalb said:

The nickname for "Music" at Fox was "The Mint" because it made so much money over a long  period of time.

 

Although "Lawrence of  Arabia" is considered David Lean's Masterpiece, "Dr Zhivago" was a much,much more successful film at the box office. it made Lean a rich man, able to only do projects he wanted to do.

And MGM rerealeased it a number of times in the late 60's and early 70's;it helped them survive their de facto bankruptcy. A 1972 rerelease brought money into MGM at a time when they had no films coming out because they had no money to produce new movies.

Ironically Lean only made 2 more films after that and neither were as successful as his earlier ones.

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16 hours ago, Rebeccas said:

Right and it almost draws parallels to today, where TV is once again becoming big competition and the few big movies are giant blockbuster spectacles. Except instead of historical war/romances, it's superheroes and Star Wars. Interestingly, 2015 was another monster year where both JW and TFA broke the OW record within a few months of each other.

 

The big difference though was the seismic shift in culture(and as a result in movie taste) that happened in the late 60s. My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music were destroying box office records one after the other and 5 years later big musicals were flopping left and right and people were running to see The Graduate and Bonnie & Clyde. It's very difficult for such an abrupt shift in taste to happen in the near future.

 

1 hour ago, dudalb said:

Although "Lawrence of  Arabia" is considered David Lean's Masterpiece, "Dr Zhivago" was a much,much more successful film at the box office. it made Lean a rich man, able to only do projects he wanted to do.

 

It might be his biggest box office hit but I doubt Zhivago gave him any kind of power he didn't already have. Lawrence of Arabia was also a huge hit, Bridge on river Kwai was the #1 boxoffice hit of its year and both of them won 7 oscars including BP/BD and were hailed as masterpieces. He already had as much power a director could have at the time.

 

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1 hour ago, Rebeccas said:

Ironically Lean only made 2 more films after that and neither were as successful as his earlier ones.

Actually "A Passage to India" did very well at the box office and made a good profit., but Ryan's Daughter barely broke even. Which was disasterous news for MGM ,since they were in deep,deep, shit finiancaly,and needed "Zhivago" level grosses. They did not come anyehere near getting them.

Problem with Ryan's Daughter is that Lean took a small, intimate story and tried to blow it up into epic proportions and it did not work.

As one critic said :Ryan's Daughter needed the director of Brief Encounter to make it work, but the Director of Lawrence of Arabia showed up.

(Lean directed Brief Encounter, in fact it was the film that made him a major league director).

Then you  have what is my most regretted movie that never got made: Lean's planned two part film on The Bounty Mutiny...first part covering the Mutiny, the Second the Aftermath. They actually built an accurate replica of the Bounty (the one they built for the 1962 film was way too big)

only to have the film collapsed. A modified version of the screenplay for the first half was sued for the 1982 film "The Bounty". it's not bad but not the film that Lean would have made.

Edited by dudalb
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13 minutes ago, Joel M said:

 

The big difference though was the seismic shift in culture(and as a result in movie taste) that happened in the late 60s. My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music were destroying box office records one after the other and 5 years later big musicals were flopping left and right and people were running to see The Graduate and Bonnie & Clyde. It's very difficult for such an abrupt shift in taste to happen in the near future.

 

 

It might be his biggest box office hit but I doubt Zhivago gave him any kind of power he didn't already have. Lawrence of Arabia was also a huge hit, Bridge on river Kwai was the #1 boxoffice hit of its year and both of them won 7 oscars including BP/BD and were hailed as masterpieces. He already had as much power a director could have at the time.

 

Oh, I agree, but ZHivago was so successful he could probably have gotten anything greenlit,which was not the case before. His run of box office success  came to halt with Ryan's Daughter, which made only a small profit compared to it's huge cost.

Lean, BTW, is  probably my favorite director of al time.Stephan Spielberg said was all the directors of his generation tried to be David Lean on some point, all failed. He admits his own shot at a Lean style epic "Empire of the Sun" fell short of what he wanted it to be.

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1 hour ago, Joel M said:

 

The big difference though was the seismic shift in culture(and as a result in movie taste) that happened in the late 60s. My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music were destroying box office records one after the other and 5 years later big musicals were flopping left and right and people were running to see The Graduate and Bonnie & Clyde. It's very difficult for such an abrupt shift in taste to happen in the near future.

 

Well, I think culturally and politically it's probably hard to replicate the absolute insanity that was the late 1960s that was likely the cause of the huge shift in taste. 

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