Roger Corman, the prolific producer who advised Hollywood luminaries, dies at 98

Roger Corman, a prolific producer of cheap B-movies who also mentored future Hollywood greats including directors Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese, has died. He was 98 years old.

He died on May 9 at his home in Santa Monica, California, his family said on social media. The cause of death was not given.

His family said, “He was generous, open-hearted and kind to all who knew him. A devoted and selfless father, he was deeply loved by his daughters.” Said in a statement. “His films were revolutionary and symbolic, and reflected the spirit of an era.”

Corman, who made hundreds of B movies over his nearly seven decades as an independent producer and director, was long called the “King of the B”. He was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2009.

His legacy extends far beyond his own films. Corman pulled a group of rising stars into his orbit over the years, including future A-list directors like Coppola, Scorsese, Howard, and Jonathan Demme. And he boosted the careers of Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, William Shatner and Robert De Niro, among other household names.

Corman was born in 1926 in Detroit, Michigan. He studied engineering, but shifted his focus to Hollywood in the mid-1950s. Corman made films of all types, including science fiction, westerns, and esoteric crime dramas. As a producer he had early success with “Monster from the Ocean Floor”, followed a few years later by “Attack of the Crab Monsters”. they produced nine “Bloodfist” The films range from the original 1989 film to 2005’s “Bloodfist 2050”.

Many of his early films were produced with on-set schedules that lasted days or weeks rather than months. His first handful of films were shot in about 10 days for less than $60,000, Corman Said In the 2016 Academy Program.

He founded New World Pictures, a production company, and later Concord-New Horizons, which focused on home video. He said in 2009 that he viewed film as a “compromised” art form, existing between the worlds of art and business.

He was known in the industry for preaching about the importance of pre-production, planning his film shoots long before the cast and crew arrived on set, planning every detail including camera placement. He later passed those skills on to his directing disciples, including Scorsese.

Corman said, “My theory was…when you’re shooting on such a busy schedule, you don’t have time to make important decisions.” “You just have time to shoot.”

He created shoot-em-ups, monster movies, and horror films with powerful titles including “The Brain Eaters,” “Teenage Cave Man,” “The Wasp Woman” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” He produced “The Little Shop of Horrors”, which came out in 1960 and starred actor Jack Nicholson in his first role.

Sylvester Stallone’s two first on-screen appearances were in “Capone” and “Death Race 2000”, both produced by Corman and released in 1975. Stallone told Entertainment Weekly When cast in “Capone” in 2009 it felt like it was “big time”.

“We made ‘Death Race 2000’ in two and a half weeks. It shows it can be done,” he told the magazine. “It’s one thing to talk about the game. Roger lets you play the game.”

Corman describes his creation process in the 2023 book “Hollywood: The Oral History,” Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson said he would have “even business” with directors who were looking to make their first film.

Corman said, “The director gets a little money and makes his movie. I get a profit from the movie, and he gets an opportunity to launch his career.”

For example, before Corman produced Coppola’s first feature-length film, “Dementia 13”, which was released in 1963, Coppola had been his assistant for several months.

Coppola was helping with sound recording and working as a second assistant director on one of Corman’s features, Corman told Conan O’Brien. “Conan on TBS” in 2014.

Corman said, “I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he would reach such heights.”

Howard was a 23-year-old actor when he was approached by Corman to make his first feature-length film, “Grand Theft Auto”, which was released in 1977.

“I said, ‘Ron, you always seemed like a director to me,'” Corman recalled saying to Howard at that moment.

Howard Said Late Saturday night he was “grateful to have known her.”

“He launched many careers and quietly led our industry in important ways,” Howard said on social media. “He remained bright, interested and active even at the age of 98.”

Many of those young directors later asked Corman to star in their big-budget Hollywood films. He appeared in Howard’s “Apollo 13” and Coppola’s “The Godfather: Part II”. Demme cast him in small roles in “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “The Manchurian Candidate.”

Even bumping into Corman by chance can change one’s direction in the industry. During a screening of “Baby Angels” in 1965, Corman sat behind Peter Bogdanovich, who was working as a journalist and film critic at the time.

The pair were introduced and used in Corman’s retelling, Bogdanovich a 2022 interviewSaid, “I read your stuff in Esquire, would you ever want to write a movie?”

Bogdanovich, who would become an Academy Award-nominated director and writer, said that Corman was offering him the opportunity to enter the business, but with little pay and no recognition.

,[Corman] Said, ‘I would like you to write again. There’s no money in it – $300 – you get $300 and no credit,” Bogdanovich said. “I said, ‘Okay, great.'”

When director Quentin Tarantino was a child, he would stay up late watching Corman’s films on TV, he said while introducing the producer at an honorary Oscar ceremony in 2009. He remembers watching “Buckets of Blood,” “Machine Gun Kelly” and ” Rock All Night” on the small screen.

Tarantino reintroduced Corman at the Cannes Film Festival in 2023, saying of Corman: “He has filled my eyes, my head, my heart, and countless audiences with pure cinematic joy for decades.”

Corman is survived by his wife, Julie, and their daughters, Katherine and Mary, the family said in a statement Sunday.

“When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, that’s all,'” the family said.


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