The Evolution of the term 'New Hollywood'

Duncan McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paperpeer-review


After the collapse of the once dominant studio system in the 1950s, Hollywood executives were at a loss as to how to reassert the cinema atop the entertainment food chain. While ticket sales and box office takings were waning and the standard fare of epics and musicals failing to capture the imagination of the American public, the growing television industry was fast becoming Americas preferred source of entertainment. In their desperation to appeal to the youth market, the only market that seemed committed to going to the cinemas, the studios threw the doors open in the late 1960s to a new generation of filmmakers, mainly born in the 1930s, who had cut their teeth in television. This new group of filmmakers, influenced not only by their Hollywood predecessors but also by the experimental films being produced in Europe, revolutionised the American cinema with their gritty, often violent realism. They saw their films as legitimate forms of personal artistic expression, and a way of exploring issues surrounding American society. This quickly came to be known as the ‘New Hollywood’. Some scholars, however, prefer to see this late 1960s activity as a precursor to the ‘New Hollywood’ which, they argue, commenced in the early 1970s with the celebrated ‘movie brats’, the first generation of truly cineliterate directors who had studied at film schools. In the late 1970s though the American film landscape would change again, with the unprecedented successes of Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) ushering in a new era of blockbuster filmmaking. This led some scholars to redefine the meaning of the term ‘New Hollywood’ to align with this blockbuster movement, while others chose to use the term ‘New New Hollywood’. This paper explores the evolution of the term New Hollywood as film scholars, journalists and critics struggle to reach a consensus on what specifically was or is the ‘New Hollywood’.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalNEO : journal for higher degree research students in the social sciences and humanities
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventHigher Degree Research and Honours Conference - North Ryde, NSW
Duration: 9 Oct 20099 Oct 2009


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