Pioneering producer and king of B movies was 98

Roger Corman, the legendary B-movie king who directed and produced hundreds of low-budget films and discovered future industry stars such as Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, has died. He was 98 years old.

Corman died on May 9 surrounded by family members at his home in Santa Monica, California, the family confirmed Diversity,

“His films were revolutionary and symbolic, and reflected the spirit of an era. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, 'I was a filmmaker, that's all,'” the family said in a statement.

Corman's empire, which existed in several incarnations including New World Pictures and Concord/New Horizons, was as active as any major studio and, he claimed, was always profitable. He specialized in fast-paced, low-budget genre films – horror, action, science fiction, even some family films – and his company trained a variety of major talent, from actors like Nicholson to It became a field. Little Shop of Horrors”) and De Niro (“Boxcar Bertha”) to directors like Francis Ford Coppola (“Dementia 13”) and Scorsese (“Boxcar Bertha”).

When Corman was honored with an Oscar at AMPAS's first Governors Awards ceremony in November 2009, Ron Howard saluted him for hiring women in key executive and creative jobs as well as giving them bigger roles, and Walter Moseley was quoted as saying that Corman had offered “one of the few open doors”, looking beyond age, race and gender.

Corman called film “really the only modern art form”. But he pointed out that the need to pay cast and crew means a constant compromise between art and business.

Howard also joked that when he directed his first film, “Eat My Dust”, he complained to Corman about the low budget and fewer extras for a crowd scene, but he added, ” If you do a good job in this movie, you'll never have to work for me again!”

Quentin Tarantino called them “Thank you movie lovers of planet Earth”. Jonathan Demme praised his acting, saying that Corman “delivered tremendous value at a really cheap price.” In several films for Demme, Corman wanted the same fees he paid actors in the more than 50 films he directed: scale plus 10%.

For almost half a century, he cornered the B-movie market, which had largely disappeared after television, and kept it alive almost single-handedly (along with Sam Arkoff of American International Pictures, who had worked with Corman in the early aughts). Did most of the financing/directing/production efforts. In his nineties, he was producing movies for $5 million or less and pitching them for video and television release.

After leaving directing in the late '60s (returning briefly in the mid-'80s with “Frankenstein Unbound”), he formed New World Pictures, which produced foreign films such as Ingmar Bergman's “Cries and Whispers.” Art films were also imported and taught the industry how to effectively market and distribute such rare films.

Born in Detroit, Corman moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1940. He attended Beverly Hills High School and then Stanford U. I studied engineering. He admitted that he was attracted to films since the time he came to California. He once said, “There was no possibility that I would not be interested in films, growing up where I did.”

Service in World War II and his education (he even attended Oxford for a time, studying English literature) slowed his pace. After Stanford he worked for four days at US Electric Motors and then tried to break into business by working as a messenger at 20th Century Fox. When he returned from Oxford (and stayed for a while in Paris) he became, in his own words, “an idiot”. From 1951-53, he did odd jobs and collected unemployment. He worked as a script reader for some time; Convinced he could do better, he wrote “Highway Dragnet” and sold it to Allied Artists for $4,000.

With money from the 1954 release and contributions from family and friends, he produced “The Monster from the Ocean Floor” and landed a deal with Arkoff's AIP. In exchange for a cash advance, Corman agreed to make a series of films.

From 1955–60 Corman produced or directed more than 30 films for AIP, all with budgets under $100,000 and produced in two weeks or less. There were Westerns (“Five Guns West,” “The Gunslinger”); horror and science fiction (“The Day the World Ended,” “The Undead” in 1956 and 1957); As well as teen movies like “Carnival Rock” and “Rock All Night”.

Soon he became the hero of drive-ins.

Critically, it did not come to Corman's attention until “Machine Gun Kelly” in 1958. That picture was followed by a studio film for Fox, “I'm Mobster.” After “Little Shop of Horrors” in 1960, Corman persuaded Arkoff to finance some more ambitious projects, notably, a series of films based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, one of Corman's favorite authors. Chain. The horror series, starting with “The Fall of the House of Usher” in 1960, spawned eight low-budget hits, including “The Tomb of Ligeia” and “The Masque of the Red Death.” He revived the careers of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone and Peter Lorre and became a classic of sorts.

During the same period he was giving starts to unknown actors like Ellen Burstyn, Nicholson and De Niro, screenwriters like Robert Towne, and directors like Scorsese, Demme, Joe Dante and Peter Bogdanovich.

His only “message” film, 1962's “The Intruder,” starring William Shatner, was about racism. Reviews were good, but because the film used the “N” word, it was denied the Production Code seal, so bookings were low. He once told a New York Times interviewer, “I decided right then and there that I would never again make a film that was so obviously a personal statement.”

Nor was he satisfied with his ventures into “big” films for Columbia Pictures, when executives there tried to curb his budget. Back at AIP, he made “The Wild Angels”, a biker film with Peter Fonda, which cost $360,000 and grossed over $25 million.

This was followed by “The Trip” and other youth-oriented hits about LSD. But his energy began to wane around the time of “Bloody Mama” in 1970, and he retired from directing after “Von Richthofen and Brown”. In 1970 he founded New World Pictures, the purpose of which was to produce and distribute the films Arkoff had once financed. By the end of his first year, with releases like “Women in Cages” and “Night Call Nurses”, he was in the black. He later produced films such as “Piranha,” “Eat My Dust” and “Death Race 2000.”

His appetite for art films began with Bergman's “Cries and Whispers” in 1972 and continued with “Autumn Sonata,” “The Story of Adele H,” “Amarkord” and “Fitzcarraldo.” He revamped their marketing and distribution, booking them in a wider variety of venues and giving audiences outside the major cities a taste of world cinema that they had not previously enjoyed.

By 1980 foreign films accounted for one-fifth of New World's $55 million annual revenues. He also added family films like “A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich” and higher-priced ($5 million) projects like Sci-Fi into his mix. -Fire “Battle Beyond the Stars.” In 1983 he sold New World for $16.5 million and started Concorde/New Horizons. He continued to discover new talents like director Luis Llosa and by 1989 had established himself Diversity Out of a series of 40 consecutive profit earners. But the market had changed, and his profits never reached the heights of AIP or New World's early days. Fortunately for Corman, the ever-expanding foreign market took up some of the slack – it came to represent half or more of his business – and CNH arrived at just the right time to capitalize on the new home video market. With his vast back catalogue, he was in the perfect position to bring his older photographs to video as well as create new photographs specifically targeted at that market.

Returning to the director's chair for the first time in two decades for 1990's “Frankenstein Unbound”, Corman disappointed genre fans and did not direct again.

However, there is no doubt that their high-volume strategy for homevideo was financially successful. Corman renamed the business New Concord in 2000 and reorganized as New Concord Home Entertainment.

Corman had produced a film called “The Fast and the Furious” in 1955, and when producer Neal Moritz discovered the film while launching his car-fueled franchise starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, Moritz decided Said that they have to do it. Keep the same title for the film. The two men reached an agreement whereby Moritz swapped the stock footage for the naming rights to the 2001 film and its successors.

Corman also found a new outlet for his pictures on Showtime and the Sci Fi Channel (now Syfy). CNH produced the “Roger Corman Presents” series of science fiction, horror and fantasy films for the pay cabler. The 2001 Sci Fi Channel “Black Scorpion” series was based on two of his more popular straight-to-vid films. Syfy's telepics included “Dinoshark,” “Dinocroc vs. Supergator” and “Sharktopus.”

In 2005 Concord signed a 12-year deal with Buena Vista Home Entertainment, giving them distribution rights to over 400 Corman-produced pictures, then in 2010 Corman signed a deal with Shout Factory, giving them distribution rights to 50 Corman-produced pictures. were granted exclusive North American home video rights. -Produced films.

Together they started a home entertainment series called Roger Corman Cult Classics. The first titles made available were “Piranha,” “Humanoids from the Deep,” “Up from the Depths” and “Demon of Paradise.”

In 1990 Corman published his memoir “Maverick: How I Made 200 Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime”.

He often made cameos in the pictures of successful filmmakers who started with him, for example, Demme's “Philadelphia”, Howard's “Apollo 13”, Coppola's “The Godfather: Part II” and Dante's “Looney Tunes: Appeared in “Back”. in the process.”

In 1998 he received the first Producers Award presented by the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2006, Corman received the David O. Lewis Award from the Producers Guild of America. Received the Selznick Award. That same year, his film “Fall of the House of Usher” was one of 25 pictures selected for the National Film Registry, a compilation of significant films to be preserved by the Library of Congress.

Alex Stapleton's 2011 feature documentary “Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel” explored the filmmaker's activities. Last year, Corman was honored by the Los Angeles Press Club with its Distinguished Storyteller Award in recognition of his contributions to the film industry.

Corman is survived by his wife, producer Julie Corman, and daughters Katherine and Mary.

(Carmel Degan contributed to this report.)

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