When Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith formed United Artists in 1919, it was a groundbreaking attempt to enable the “creative” people in the filmmaking process to have more control over the films themselves. When then-head of Metro Pictures, Richard A. Rowland, heard about the forming of UA, he said, “The inmates are taking over the asylum.”
The perceived insanity of the formation of UA mattered little in the long run. The bold move marked the beginning of the end of the studio system, and set the stage for the current business model, where actors and directors have very powerful sway over their pictures.
Steven Spielberg. His list of successes, both as a director and producer, has earned him a reputation that evokes respect from his peers, delight from audiences, and downright glee among investors. But few other directors can get a film started with such ease. Even highly successful names like Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, or Lawrence Kasdan often have to have a major star in hand before getting the go-ahead.
A-list director (or writer/director) production companies include:
Ed Zwick, The Bedford Falls Company
Garry Marshall, Henderson Productions, Inc.
Ivan Reitman, The Montecito Picture Company
James Cameron, Lightstorm Entertainment
Penny Marshall, Parkway Productions
Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Conundrum Entertainment
Robert Zemeckis, ImageMovers
Spike Lee, Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Inc.
Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks SKG
A-list actor/director-driven production companies include:
Ben Stiller, Red Hour Films
George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, Section Eight Productions
Kevin Costner, Tig Productions, Inc.
Rob Reiner, Castle Rock
Ron Howard, Imagine
Some say it's talent. Some say good looks. Some chalk it up to charisma. But the fact is, an actor who brings the most people into a theater is the one who also makes it easiest to get a movie made. For this reason, action stars are always at the top of the list. Not only does an action film translate better worldwide (compared to a romance or comedy), but it also reins in the target demographic of American males between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five.
When it comes to A-list actresses, Julia Roberts has long reigned as the only actress who could green-light a project. Groups of solid actresses seem to have more success, as is the
An example of this is the film adaptation of the comic book
In 1994, Harrison Ford was presented with an award from the National Association of Theater Owners, naming him “Star of the Century.” This was in recognition of what theater owners consider most important, namely appearing in the most films that brought in the most people. To date, Ford has generated enormous film revenue. All of his films in total have a domestic box office gross of over $3 billion, and over $5 billion worldwide.
Passion for Production
Following in the footsteps of the original “united artists,” many actors have their own production companies. Usually they have a
A few A-list actors with production companies include:
Charlize Theron, Denver and Delilah Films
Drew Barrymore, Flower Films
Hugh Jackman, Seed Productions
Jennifer Love Hewitt, Love Spell Entertainment
Julia Roberts, Red Om Films, Inc.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, LivePlanet
Mel Gibson, Icon Productions
Morgan Freeman, Revelations Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan, Irish DreamTime
Reese Witherspoon, Type A Films
Sandra Bullock, Fortis Films
Tom Cruise, C/W Productions
Tom Hanks, Playtone Company
By fully funding his 2004 film