×

‘King of B’s’ Roger Corman Remembers His Stint as an Agent

Few filmmakers have impacted American cinema as indelibly as Roger Corman, the self-proclaimed “King of the B’s” and the man who famously made low-budget, long-shelf-life moneymakers, ranging from “Little Shop of Horrors” to the pic that first conjured the billion-dollar title “The Fast and the Furious” 60 years ago. Variety first noted Corman during his short stint as a rep with the Dick Hyland Literary Agency.

You studied engineering at Stanford, but you found work as an agent in Hollywood?

Of all the graduates of the Stanford engineering program, I must have had the worst paying job of anyone. I was a $32.50-a-week messenger at Fox. When I heard there was an opening for an assistant to Dick Hyland, I took it.

Who was your top client?

I was trying to become a writer, and I wrote a script called “The House in the Sea.” I sold my own script to William Broidy at Allied Artists. Dick thought it was funny, and let me pay myself a commission!

So your agency career was brief?

I wanted to learn the business, so I worked for nothing as an associate producer on the film, which was retitled “Highway Dragnet.” Now that I was a writer-producer, I took the money I made, and borrowed some more, and made “It Stalked the Ocean Floor.” I sold it to Lippert Pictures, which thought “Stalked” was too arty, and changed the title to “Monster From the Ocean Floor.”

Speaking of titles, the common assumption is that they aren’t protected. But you sold “The Fast and the Furious” title to Universal?

(“Furious” producer) Neal Moritz’s father Milt was the publicity chief of AIP, which started as ARC, the company that released my film. When Neal told him he was unhappy with the title of their film, which was called “Red Line,” Milt remembered my film, and Neal flipped for the title. I made a deal with Universal that in exchange for using my title, I would get rights to stock footage from Universal projects. We used footage from their “Spartacus” film to make “Cyclops” for the Syfy network.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content