Saturday, 14 July 2012

Richard D. Zanuck R.I.P.

Richard Zanuck, studio executive and movie producer, passed away yesterday at the age of 77.

He was the son of Darryl F. Zanuck, the Hollywood mogul who merged his 20th Century Productions with the then ailing Fox Pictures in 1933 to form the mega-studio 20th Century Fox. 

Naturally, he began his career with what was then the family business, starting in the story department, and worked his was up to producing his first feature film Compulsion by the time he was 25.

He became President of 20th Century Fox at the age of 28, but the doldrums that affected the whole industry in the late 1960s hit 20th Century Fox hard. Financial troubles with the studios and conflicts with his father led to him being fired and he began his life defining career as an independent producer.

He was a very successful producer, bringing a then young TV director named Stephen Spielberg to the big screen, first with the small scale drama The Sugarland Express, and breaking him into blockbusters with Jaws.

Since then he went on to produce films ranging from Oscar bait that could still win audiences like Driving Miss Daisy, to bombastic mega-blockbusters like Clash Of The Titans, to the broad cinematic fantasies of Tim Burton.

He considered movie producing an art form in itself, and for that he will have a lasting cinematic legacy.

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