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Peter Bogdanovich Pushes for Non-‘Titanic’ Tentpoles

Peter Bogdanovich blames James Cameron’s success with 1997’s “Titanic” for studios pulling the plug on smaller movies, such as his 1971 hit “The Last Picture Show.”

“The worst thing was when Cameron made ‘Titanic’ and spent $150 million,” he said Saturday night after receiving the King Vidor Award from the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

“So everyone was predicting a disaster and when it wasn’t, then everyone started spending that much,” said Bogdanovich. “We made ‘The Last Picture Show’ for $1.3 million and it made a ton of money.”

“The Last Picture Show” made nearly $30 million in worldwide grosses. “Titanic” grossed $1.8 billion.

“The Last Picture Show” star Timothy Bottoms held a Q&A with the director at the Fremont Theater prior to a screening of the desolate black-and-white drama, nominated for eight Oscars including best picture and director (Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman won for their supporting performances).

“I never thought of the ’70s as a golden age; it was silver at best,” Bogdanovich said of the era.

He noted that other directors who emerged during the era, such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, carried a deep appreciation for the foundations of cinema — such as Vidor’s 1928 silent “The Crowd.”

“King Vidor was very humble,” he said. “We talked about working together and I kept asking, ‘Why am I working and King Vidor isn’t?”

Bogdanovich’s first film in eight years, “She’s Funny That Way,” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, opens in May. He admitted that it’s the antithesis of a tentpole.

“It’s a screwball comedy like ‘What’s Up, Doc,'” he noted. “Nobody makes them anymore.”

Bogdanovich, a noted film historian, urged filmgoers to acknowledge the past, adding, “Young people say they don’t want to watch black-and-white movies — don’t be an idiot.”

And he mimicked Jimmy Stewart telling a story about a fan who had told Stewart about his performance in reciting a poem in a film two decades earlier to make the point that movies matter.

“You’re giving people little tiny pieces of time they’ll never forget,” Bogdanovich recalled.

Besides “The Last Picture Show” and “What’s Up, Doc,” Bogdanovich also directed “Paper Moon,” “Mask,” “Daisy Miller,” “Nickelodeon” and “They All Laughed.”

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