Appreciating all that makes America special

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Initially, no Hollywood studio wanted Raiders. In the end, Paramount ponied up $18 million, and was rewarded with the highest-grossing film of 1981. Uploaded by fanpop.com.

Go back in time with me, waaay back to 1975, and the start of the George Lucas/Stephen Spielberg dueling blockbuster action movies. 1975: Jaws. 1977: Star Wars and Close Encounters . 1980: The Empire Strikes Back . 1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark. These were all blockbusters, all summer films (if I remember correctly), and all intensely awaited much like the Harry Potter movies are today.

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Uploaded by comicvine.com.

Raiders was produced by Lucas, directed by Spielberg, and based on a story by Lucas. Like the Star Wars films, this one had its roots in the adventure serials of the 1930s. Many of the movie’s plot points came from a five-day brainstorming session involving Lucas, Spielberg, and Lawrence Kasdan, one of the great screenwriters of our time. Once the script was complete, it was shown to all the major studios in Hollywood – and unanimously refused. Too complicated. Can you imagine studios turning down a Lucas/Spielberg/Kasdan creation? Starring Harrison Ford? Paramount finally agreed to finance it, and were rewarded with the highest-grossing movie of 1981.

Raiders received nine Academy Award nominations, winning in four technical categories. And since the movie was so good, and so much fun, it’s not wrong to talk about the unbelievable profit it made for its reluctant studio. Produced for a budget of $18 million, it grossed $384 million worldwide. The American Film Institute ranked it number 60 in its list of 100 Years…100 Movies.

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