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No Requiem for Hollywood

March 24, 1997

Hollywood's usual drove of detractors has been having a field day pointing out that only one film up for best picture at tonight's Academy Awards was crafted with the help of a major studio. Not true. Hollywood studios and their artists were involved in all five films, and Hollywood distributors helped muster the marketing dollars that most of these films needed to escape the ghetto labeled "art film" and move into the mainstream.

Most important, Hollywood's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized a slate of films that critics worldwide--a usually fractious bunch--agree is one of the most distinguished ever.

This is not to say that Hollywood has heard the critics' call and decided to usher in a new era of risky, groundbreaking cinema. Given today's stratospheric star salaries, studio costs and promotional budgets, the major studios will continue green-lighting sure blockbusters like "Independence Day" (which took in $306 million last year) over films like "Fargo" ($24 million in ticket sales).

What the naysayers fail to understand, however, is that Hollywood has begun to take some of the money it earns from crowd-pleasing films and put it into crowd-challenging ones, as Disney did by helping Miramax with "The English Patient" or Polygram did by helping New Line with "Fargo." It's because of this trend, as independent filmmaker Samuel Z. Arkoff points out, that creative, independent producers have come to find "the world of movie making . . . more promising, in almost every way, than ever."

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