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High concept


High concept

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High concept, in movies, is a term typically used to refer to the style and mode of production developed by Hollywood studios in the late 1970s. The term has also been claimed to originate from the marketing and management work of media executives Barry Diller and Michael Eisner at the ABC network in the 1960s. Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) are commonly referred to as the first high concept movies. The most famous example of a recent high concept film would probably be Snakes on a Plane.

The plot of a high concept movie is easily understood by audiences, and can often be described in a sentence or two. The story line is extremely efficient in that every scene and character is used to drive the plot forward. Often in high concept, characters and scenes that at first seem unnecessary are later used to reveal or explain a plot twist.

High concept movies feature relatively simple characters and a heavy reliance on conventions of cinematic genre. Stylistically, high concept movies tend to be high-tech, crisp, and polished. Such movies also rely on pre-sold properties such as movie stars to build audience anticipation, and use heavy advertising, market research, and test screenings to ensure maximum popularity.

High concept movies also have a presence outside of theaters, and usually have soundtrack and music video tie-ins to cross-promote the movie. Promotional tie-ins can extend into dozens of venues; a common occurrence is themed products sold at fast-food restaurants such as McDonald's.

"High concept" is sometimes used as a derogatory term by some movie critics, to refer to movies that pander to the lowest common denominator and are only concerned with financial profit.

High concept movies often have themes which tie into an area of popular fascination, such as sharks, dinosaurs, flying saucers and so on, and thus have a ready-built foundation of subsidiary issues and ever-ramifying facts which can feed the marketing machine from magazine articles to weblog chatter on levels from the superficial to the intellectually or factually exhaustive.


Wyatt, Justin. High Concept. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. ISBN 0292790910

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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