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American International Pictures

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

  • Founded: April, 1956 | Defunct: 1980
  • Headquarters : Los Angeles, CA
  • Became Filmways bought by Orion Pictures
  • Film Catalog owned by MGM
  • AIP Press Kit | AIP Filmography

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The Arkoff Formula

Samuel Z. Arkoff related his tried-and-true "ARKOFF formula" for producing a successful low-budget movie years later, during a 1980s talk show appearance. His ideals for a movie included:

  • Action (exciting, entertaining drama)
  • Revolution (novel or controversial themes and ideas)
  • Killing (a modicum of violence)
  • Oratory (notable dialogue and speeches)
  • Fantasy (acted-out fantasies common to the audience)
  • Fornication (sex appeal, for young adults)

Later the AIP publicity department devised a strategy called "The Peter Pan Syndrome":

  • a) a younger child will watch anything an older child will watch;
  • b) an older child will not watch anything a younger child will watch;
  • c) a girl will watch anything a boy will watch
  • d) a boy will not watch anything a girl will watch; therefore-to catch your greatest audience you zero in on the 19-year old male. [1]

Introduction

In 1956, ARC Pictures was renamed American International Pictures. In the 1960s there were some very successful film series from AIP, first and foremost being Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe film adaptations starring Vincent Price (Masque of The Red Death, The House of Usher, The Raven). In marketing films to teenagers, AIP also began bringing back former genre stars including Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. AIP was also a training ground for new actors and directors. Legends like Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Bogdanovich all got their starts from Corman and Sam Arkoff. With Roger Corman's The Wild Angels" (1966), AIP launched the "biker-film" genre, which Corman saw as "the new Western" and sparked off a exciting radical start to AIP's youth-oriented films. In 1969, Roger Corman made his last films for AIP: the gangster film Bloody Mama starring Shelley Winters and the apocalyptic satire Gas-s-s-s. Corman then started his own distribution and production company, New World Pictures. Studio head James H. Nicholson died in 1971, but AIP kept going strong throughout the early 1970s. Count Yorga, Vampire, The Incredible Two Headed Transplant, the Dr. Phibes films, Scream Blacula Scream and The Food of The Gods are just a few of the many sci fi-horror films AIP released in the 1970s. With greater financial freedom, AIP began expanding its product by purchasing foreign crime, sci-fi and horror films and financing more mainstream films. By the late 1970s, big-budget films had surprisingly become more important to AIP than the cheap, two-week shoot pictures of the past. The Island Of Dr. Moreau, Love At First Bite and The Amityville Horror all made money but the overspending led to the ultimate downfall of AIP. In 1979, AIP merged with Filmways (Orion Pictures later bought Filmways). In 1980, Sam Arkoff formed Arkoff International Pictures, but it didn't do very well. Sam Arkoff passed away in 2001. Film lovers will always remember his genius in the film business. Thanks for all the classic films you made Sam!!

Notes

1. Bean, Robin and Austen, David U.S.A. Confidential p.215 Films and Filming November 1968 quoted in p.157 Doherty, Thomas Teenagers and Teenpics Unwin-Hyman 1988

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