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  • Writer's picturePaul Mcvay

A.I.P.-1978 & Beyond

Nothing stirs the creative juices here at the Chicago home office of ICFH like acquiring a long-sought-after piece of movie marketing material. In this case, it is the exhibitor's package sent out by American International Pictures concerning their upcoming 1978 roster of movies.

Now that we have a near-mint copy in our archives, we thought it was time we shared it with all of you. Here are some hi-rez scans of the exhibitor's package. As an added bonus, I've included an interview excerpt from It Came From Hollywood Book 1 when we get to the Matilda promotion. Enjoy!


Regarding- Matilda. Here is an excerpt of my interview with Jeff Williams from It Came From Hollywood-Book 1. Jeff was in charge of marketing and distribution of Matilda when it was released.

Jeff Wiliams: The thing they used to do then, and something I'm sure they do now, is something called a "Producer's Rep." You have somebody to watch your interests. Especially then because you needed to find what would be a good run as opposed to now, where you just throw a picture out in as many theaters. So a "Producer's Rep" would say I must approve every date. For instance, AIP wanted their leap into respectability to be a film called Matilda (1978). Do you remember that?

Paul Mcvay: Oh yes. Matilda is the boxing kangaroo movie.

Jeff Williams: The film never played Chicago. Why didn't it play Chicago?

Paul Mcvay: Some may ask why it played anywhere, but ok, I'll bite; why didn't it play Chicago?

Jeff Williams: Matilda never played Chicago because the guy in charge of taking the run at the time was aware that Chicago didn't have enough theaters. It was especially harder during the Summertime. Let me backtrack a second here. United Artists in the early 70s came up with an idea that there would be customers that would always be there for their films. The guy in charge of United Artists distribution at the time would say they play all of our stuff. Some of them may be bombs, but we'll take care of you, and when they turn out to be a hit, then we'll take care of you too. What United Artists started in the '70s, eventually all the companies attempted to do that. The problem was when you had an independent company that didn't have 52 weeks of stuff. So in the Summertime, you might have a picture and have to shoehorn your way in. You gotta get in on a screen where they don't have anything following it. Inevitably you will have a picture that goes out and then dies within two weeks, and your next picture isn't quite ready yet, and maybe the theater owner throws something else in that turns out to be a hit but he's already committed to 4 weeks for the first picture, and it keeps going on and on, and it's a constant struggle.

Paul Mcvay: Was the buzz on Matilda really that great? In my opinion, it's an awful film.

Jeff Williams: Oh, it's terrible. We had these stuffed Matilda dolls, which I gave my kids, and it was a dust collector. It would make everyone have allergies. It had one of the most blatant product placements of any movie I have ever seen. There's a scene where the trainer played by Clive Revill says “She'll eat good if they give her McDonald's” and there's a free shot for like 15 seconds showing a Big Mac. Elliott Gould came out for that, and we had a special screening for a convention of nurses or something. He was very friendly but very quiet.

Paul Mcvay: I've got to be honest with you. If I'm Elliot Gould, I'm quiet, too, when it comes to promoting Matilda. Even today I am embarrassed to see Elliot Gould in something like Matilda. I thought Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) was a film just dead on with its time. Then M*A*S*H (1970) was a huge hit. Fast forward eight years later, and he's doing Matilda?

Jeff Williams: Well, after M*A*S*H, he was just in junk films. I mean, they were supposedly big pictures, but they kept getting worse and worse.


To read the full interview with Jeff Williams and his recollections of working for A.I.P., MGM, and New World Pictures buy It Came From Hollywood Book 1

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