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Legendary Writer And Director Roger Corman Dies At 98

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'The King of Cult' leaves behind a legacy of classic B-movies like 'The Little Shop of Horrors' and 'The Terror'

Roger Corman, producer of such titles as The Fast and the Furious, Grand Theft Auto, and The Fantastic Four, dies at age 98. Corman is a Hollywood icon recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures for his rich engendering of films and filmmakers.

King of the B’s

Prolific barely contains the sheer volume of films produced by Roger Corman over a career spanning more than six decades. 

Corman wrote and directed over fifty films but is most well known for producing over three hundred and sixty feature films, which average out to film every other month for sixty years!  Many of these films were part of a prolific period of film production in the fifties and sixties when schlocky B-movies ruled the cinemas.

In an endearing story retold by Corman on the YouTube channel UH West O’ahu Academy for Creative Media in 2015, as part of a  Master Class Series, Corman related how the film was shot soon after the completion of another film, Bucket of Blood, which had an impressive set design and the set itself was left standing for a short time. 

Corman wished to capitalize on the availability of the standing set, so he hired a small cast from a pool of stock actors he regularly used, paying them for a week’s work, rehearsed the film for three days on set, and then shot the film in just two days and a night. 

Thirty minutes into their first day, the production manager half-jokingly announced that they were hopelessly behind schedule. The amusing atmosphere translated into what essentially became a new wave of horror-comedy films.

An Eye for Talent 

Corman was known for admiring ambition and having an eye for talent. In a 2015 interview with Conan O’Brien, Corman regaled the many actors and directors he worked with early on in their career. One of those actors included a young Ron Howard. 

After starring in the 1976 action-comedy Eat My Dust!, Howard proposed to Corman that he would maintain his salary for the film’s sequel if he could direct it. Corman replied to the future director, saying, “Ron, you’ve always seemed like a director to me.” 

In addition to Ron Howard, Corman also identified and gave a start to major Hollywood players like Jack Nicholson and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as James Cameron and Martin Scorsese, among others. 

A Shrewd Businessman 

Say what one will say about the quality of Corman’s films. The man had a knack for business, and Corman understood that the movie business is a business first and foremost. 

When a new series of residuals, or residual payments paid to actors in perpetuity for their work on films and TV shows, was set to go into effect on January 1, 1960, Corman was eager to squeeze in just one more pictured before this new system went into effect, as it would effectively change the business model of filmmaker forever. 

And so he shot Little Shop of Horrors in December of 1959, just in the nick of time to have the work grandfathered in prior to the new residuals policy taking effect.

An article from Los Angeles Magazine in March 2005 detailed the production of The Fantastic Four film, produced in 1994 but never released. 

Stan Lee, the famous comic book creator, believed that the film was produced to hold onto the rights of the characters simply and was never intended for release. 

However, German producer Bernd Eichinger, who had acquired the rights to produce a film based on the popular comic franchise of the same name, hired Corman’s company to produce the film for a theatrical release.

Sadly, prior to the film’s release, the contract for the film was bought out by the first Marvel Studios Chief Executive Officer, Avi Arad, in a thoughtful bit of precognition, who worried releasing the film as a B-picture would hurt future franchise potential. And Arad was right, as Marvel Studios would go on to be one of the most prolific producers of tentpole films in the coming decades. 

A Filmmaker’s Legacy

Corman died in his home. A statement released by his wife and daughters noted, “He was generous, open-hearted, and kind to all those who knew him,” the statement said.” When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.'”

Check out this interview with Roger Corman and Conan O’Brien from 2015 below:

Roger Corman Interview (2015) Conan TBS

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Caleb aims to write high-concept genre pieces that focus on broken families. His works have been recognized by the Nicholl's Fellowship, the ISA, Screencraft, Launchpad, and Nickelodeon.When not writing Caleb enjoys video games and tabletop RPGs, camping, and is a connoisseur of fine bourbon.

Matt Keyser is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton University with a bachelor's in Communications-Journalism. He is a freelance entertainment reporter with a focus on film and television. As a former senior programming coordinator for the Newport Beach Film Festival, Matt's experience with critiquing narratives and documentaries has helped showcase his passion for television and cinema through his writing.