Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on three films that tell the story of Joe Dante’s struggle with big studio films.
It’s something of a truism that the vast majority of “production nightmares” boil down to power struggles over who, exactly, has creative control. We’re talking behind-the-scenes legends that sublimate into book deals, documentaries, and myth itself. Like Wener Herzog pointing a gun at Klaus Kinski on the set of Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Or untethered projects like Cleopatra, Ishtar, and Heaven’s Gate spiraling out of financial control.
Studios care about a film’s marketability and this is not always true of directors. The results of this tension can be disastrous, but we’ve all heard those horror stories before. What’s more interesting is a slightly more nuanced narrative: a collection of one particular auteur’s experiences with studio filmmaking, and what they taught him.
The following video essay takes a look at three studio films directed by the genius genre Joe Dante. While Dante’s early films emerged out of the energetic “get it done” approach of Roger Corman, his later experiences with studios were less than straightforward. The essay takes a look at the hybrid live-action animated feature Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), the sci-fi coming-of-age flick Explorers (1985), and the marvelously chaotic blank check that is Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). In the essay, each segment parallels the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise, respectively). The result is a much more measured portrait of studio relations, from the hellish to the divine.
Watch “Joe Dante’s Battle With Hollywood”:
Who made this?
This video on Joe Dante’s battle with Hollywood is by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.
More videos like this
- For more of the Royal Ocean Film Society’s work, check out their essay on the cult-like appeal of the Criterion Collection.
- The Royal Ocean Film Society has a great video on the strange cinematic life of the 1991 Disney movie The Rocketeer.
- And here they are with a really informative breakdown of how Sam Raimi made his splatter masterpiece (splasterpiece?) The Evil Dead.
- Here’s the Royal Ocean Film Society on the weird and wonderful world of fan edits.
- Further evidence of the Royal Ocean Film Society’s brilliance: why 3D’s failure is a tale as old as cinema itself.