American Blockbuster

Movies, Technology, and Wonder

American Blockbuster

Sign, Storage, Transmission

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Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: 56 illustrations Published: August 2020

Subjects
American Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film

Ben Hur (1959), Jaws (1975), Avatar (2009), Wonder Woman (2017): the blockbuster movie has held a dominant position in American popular culture for decades. In American Blockbuster Charles R. Acland charts the origins, impact, and dynamics of this most visible, entertaining, and disparaged cultural form. Acland narrates how blockbusters emerged from Hollywood's turn to a hit-driven focus during the industry's business crisis in the 1950s. Movies became bigger, louder, and more spectacular. They also became prototypes for ideas and commodities associated with the future of technology and culture, accelerating the prominence of technological innovation in modern American life. Acland shows that blockbusters continue to be more than just movies; they are industrial strategies and complex cultural machines designed to normalize the ideologies of our technological age.

Praise

“Charles R. Acland has written an astute, masterful genealogy of the film critic's kryptonite: the blockbuster. Bringing clarity to the massive films that hide from scholars in plain view, Acland shows just how complex and unstable ostensibly self-evident genre and trade terms can be. Beyond a film history, this wide-ranging book offers a prototype for multi-modal historiographic method and incisive film analysis in an era of big data and digital humanities. Far more than an origin story, Acland's reverse engineering lays bare the struggles behind the management of Hollywood's blockbuster category, the fabrication of overdone artlessness. A must-read in film and media studies.” — John Thornton Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television

“No other book traces the emergence of the stabilization of Hollywood's blockbuster strategy as deftly as American Blockbuster. Charles R. Acland's powerful synthesis of historical analysis and cultural theory along with his assessment of Hollywood's blockbuster economy—and of the studios’ prevailing blockbuster aesthetic—will have a significant impact.” — Thomas Schatz, author of The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Charles R. Acland is Distinguished University Research Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the author of Swift Viewing: The Popular Life of Subliminal Influence and Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes, and Global Culture, and coeditor of Useful Cinema, all also published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0950-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0857-6
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