As far as I knew in those days three people in the world were watching Star Trek
and we all sat at the same lunch table.
Greg Cox wrote:
Plus, the studios occasionally dabbled in A-list "prestige" science fiction pictures beyond Forbidden Planet. I'm thinking films like 2001, The Andromeda Strain, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Silent Running, Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and maybe even Logan's Run.
Yeah, they "dabbled," as you say - but if you look at most of those projects they had some mainstream or conventional points of interest. They didn't get made because anyone thought that there was an under served science fiction audience out here. Forbidden Planet
, as I said, was a movie that seemed to have no raison d'etre
whatever other than to make an expensive science fiction film for its own sake; that's why it stands out as remarkable.
The Andromeda Strain
was based on and leveraged a best-selling thriller by Michael Crichton. No Ace Double stocked back in the sf paperback section; everyone knew what that movie was before the cameras rolled. Most reviewers never used the term "science fiction" for the novel and it wasn't packaged or marketed as genre sf, somewhat to the annoyance of some folks in the sf community (a common complaint throughout the Seventies among skiffy writers and fans would be authors who were "clearly writing sf" but eschewed the sobriquet of "science fiction writer" and the category itself. Kurt Vonnegut was the Devil himself to these guys).
- A-list director driving the project. What do Soylent Green
, The Omega Man
and Planet Of The Apes
have in common? A certain A-lister fascinated with this stuff who made them marketable to a presumably mainstream audience (by contrast Walter Pidgeon was the most well-known actor in Forbidden Planet
and his glory days were behind him; he was actually doing television
at the time, that undiscovered country from whose bourn no actor returned).
- low budget European film. The Illustrated Man
- sadly, a bomb.
The most interesting movie in that list to me, in this context, is Logan's Run.
In 1975 the one media-savvy, movie-obsessed guy in the U of MD. Science Fiction Society was telling us that the industry thinking was that science fiction was, finally, going to be the Next Big Thing and that a movie coming out next year, Logan's Run
, was the horse they were betting on. It would be the break-out hit that would launch the surge.
The wrong movie and a year early. Still, someone out there was on to something at last.