Hollywood Blockbusters Day School
Saturday 3 August
10.00-17.00 with a lunch break from 13.00-14.00
£45 or £40 for Members and concessions

Tutor: Peter Krämer ([email protected])

Since the 1950s, the word ‘blockbuster’ has been used to refer to Hollywood’s most expensive and most commercially successful movies. It is well known that in recent years these have tended to be Science Fiction and fantasy films, which are often based on bestselling novels or on comic books; many are sequels to previous movies (films based on original scripts, like Avatar [2009], are quite rare at the top of the charts). But what were Hollywood’s biggest productions and biggest hits in the past? How (and why) do blockbusters change over time? Why do some expensive movies fail at the box office (whereas some inexpensive movies can beat all the competition)? Which pleasures and meanings do the successful films offer to their vast audiences? Who are the people and companies making such films?

The day school approaches these questions from a range of perspectives, including reflections on our own movie experiences (in the cinema as well as on the small screen), the examination of (US and global) box office charts, and the analysis of particular film sequences. Going back all the way to the late 1930s, we will be dealing with animated features (notably Bambi [1942]), historical epics (notably Titanic [1997]), international adventures and musicals, with taboo-breaking films and disaster movies, and most especially with the impact of Star Wars. In doing so, we will emphasise the centrality of the most primal relationships (between children and parents) and of the most global threats in many of Hollywood's biggest hits.

About the tutor:
Peter Krämer is a Senior Research Fellow in Cinema & TV in the Leicester Media School at De Montfort University (Leicester). He also is a Senior Fellow in the School of Art, Media and American Studies at the University of East Anglia, and has been involved in adult education for over three decades. He is the author or editor of twelve academic books, including American Graffiti: George Lucas, the New Hollywood and the Baby Boom Generation (Routledge, 2023). He has also written, together with Paul Willetts, a book for children, American Film: An A-Z Guide (Franklin Watts, 2003).

Programmed in partnership with the Sir John Hurt Film Trust.

  • Release Date :
  • 11 Mar 2024
  • Certificate :
  • TBC
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