Greg Cox wrote:
My Name Is Legion wrote:
OTOH, Lucas and Spielberg pretty much invented
skiffy movie geekdom.
Okay, the old codger in me has to object to that statement. Believe it or not, there were science fiction movies and fans and fandom before Lucas and Spielberg.
What about George Pal and Jack Arnold and Ray Harryhausen, not to mention Starlog magazine and Forrest J. Ackerman and Famous Monsters of Filmland?
I remember watching "Science Fiction Theater" on Saturday afternoons long before anybody had ever heard of Luke Skywalker or E.T. What about 2001
and Logan's Run
and Quatermass and Barbarella and, heck, the entire Planet of the Apes
phenomenon, which included movies, novels, comic books, toys, and fan magazines?
As I recall, I attended my first convention back in '75 or so, at least two years before Star Wars debuted.
Yeah, and there were, what - twelve of us in the United States?
Maybe I should have said they created the skiffy geek demographic as something the studios cared about. Through the fifties and sixties we got mainly low-budget, though very imaginative, movies with the occasional ambitious film by a director who commanded some attention. 2001
exists because Kubrick wanted to do it, not because the studio believed that there were millions of fantasy-loving kids out here waiting to make them rich. Charlton Heston's attachment to Planet Of The Apes
throughout its early development lent it studio cachet as well.
BTW, despite the success of the first Planet Of The Apes
film nothing about the response to it caused 20th to take special notice - they planned and budgeted the sequels on the long-standing premise that the first film in such a series would be the most successful. The rule of thumb was that each film would make about sixty percent of the box office of its predecessor. A self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps, but the invention of the modern sf-fantasy "franchise" that now dominates the industry would wait on The Empire Strikes Back.
The really interesting anomaly during that era was Forbidden Planet.
For some reason MGM made a big-budget investment in a purely sf film produced and directed by no one of note and starring B-movie actors.
After Star Wars
- and cemented by E.T.
- the studios increasingly became effects-laden fantasy factories. Publishers also became a lot more interested in tie-in merchandising after the novelization of Star Wars sold something like five million copies in six months for Ballantine/Del Rey (and of course, the Star Fleet Technical Manual). Glossy oversized trade paperbacks documenting the making of movies like Alien became frequent. Gulf & Western took the Star Trek license back from Bantam, brought it in house and in the decade following ST:TMP the Pocketbook paperback division of their publishing arm started to generate Star Trek novels on a regular schedule to feed a steadily growing demand.
Star Trek conventions existed at first because a group of New York trek fans who worked with sf conventions like LunaCon got tired of being a bit unwelcome at the kind of cons that had existed for several decades. SF conventions in those days were mainly about prose writing and writers - the whole TV/movie track was an afterthought at most of them. I remember watching friends who'd been involved with the sf subculture for many years (all older than me, of course) watch with dismay in the late 1970s as more and more fans of visual media began to crowd the cons, spurred on by the explosion of movie and TV productions that followed Star Wars.