Hollywood underwent a major transformation in creative control in the '80s, spawning a new generation of powerhouse film producers. In fact, these shrewd, dominating new movie moguls operated with such a strong hand--hiring and firing directors, packaging stars and even creating an aesthetic for their pictures--that perhaps they should be known by a heady new moniker: the Producer as Auteur.
'70s box-office champs Steven Spielberg and George Lucas still exercised considerable influence, especially through Spielberg's Amblin Films, which encouraged a host of young film-making talent. But the real '80's kingpins were a high-profile trio of producer teams: Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer, Lawrence Gordon & Joel Silver and Peter Guber and John Peters. Not to say that these duos were infallible--all presided over plenty of flops. But they created blockbuster hits with remarkable consistency, sculpted the career moves of budding superstars and--for better or worse--helped establish the supremacy of the sequel, giving studios access to a proven box-office commodity.
Talk about building a franchise--Simpson & Bruckheimer preside over the "Beverly Hills Cop" series, Gordon & Silver have "48 HRS." and "Die Hard" sequels in the works (while Silver oversees the "Lethal Weapon" series) and Guber-Peters left Warner Films in possession of a potential bonanza--the "Batman" sequel.