From New Hollywood to Blockbusters (exhibit text)

Summer 1975 (USA) – Beaches were deserted and cinemas were full as America was gripped in terror by the attack of Jaws.

With profits dwindling, Hollywood studio moguls tried to reach out to younger audiences by recruiting a fresh crop of filmmakers in the late 1960s. These directors – Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and others – made edgy, personal films that drew on European cinema earning the name ‘New Hollywood.’

As the New Hollywood filmmakers reached their prime, a young director named Steven Spielberg was assigned to a film called Jaws, which featured a killer shark. Spielberg worried that the film lacked sophistication, saying “Who wants to be known as a shark-and-truck director?”

Boosted by an unprecedented level of television advertising, it became the highest grossing film ever at the time: a record that was broken by George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977.) These blockbusters marked the end of an era for New Hollywood: instead of supporting the artistic vision of particular directors, studios focused on repeating successful formulas and appealing to the broadest possible audience.