"It was classic Kubrick, winning the chess match through perseverance and ingenuity."
Nowadays, we’re all way too comfortable with the incredible computing power often in our pockets or at our fingertips, so it’s funny to think back to a simpler age, not so long ago, when tasks that now happen in seconds took days, even weeks. How Stanley Kubrick Invented The Modern Box-Office Report (By Accident) tells the wonderful story of how the notorious director figured out how to get A Clockwork Orange playing in exactly the right movie theaters. Mike Kaplan, who worked on marketing Kubrick’s films, recounts how they got Maureen, “a sweet lady from St. Albans” to enter the box-office figured from 1,000 American cinemas onto individual pages of accounting paper, compiled into notebooks alphabetically listed by city. Writes Kaplan:
This hand-crafted data base would be our bible, guiding our directives to Warner Bros. concerning which cinemas should show A Clockwork Orange.
In other words, they could figure out which audiences might respond best to the, well, challenging content of the film. Not only did the approach guarantee record figures for the movie, but it also led to Variety changing the way it reported box-office takings in its magazine. It is also a wonderful example of Kubrick’s belief that filmmaking was “an exercise in problem solving.” Lovely.
[Story via Jarrod Cady.]
That’s a belief we share.