From Tribeca Film:
The multi-talented director Mel Stuart passed away this week at age 83. But no one who knew him will ever forget his love of the movies, or his passion for excellence in storytelling.
Filmmakers often find themselves blessed or burdened with images and ideas that are out of step with their times. This isn’t unusual for artists—think of the work of Rembrandt or Van Gogh, painters whose work was ignored during their lifetime, only to be seen by future generations as the insightful and important work it was.
But film has been unable to enjoy the evolution of audiences, as the nature of projection and celluloid forced work created for the big screen to arrive at a moment in time, and connect with its audience or be left in the dustbins of history.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory opened July 7, 1971—up against Willard, the story of a socially awkward young boy with a strange love of rats.
No wonder, then, that a dark post-modern musical about children and an overbearing chocolate factory run by oompa loompas wouldn’t draw big box office.
Consider for a moment these reviews and results:
♦ Daily Variety called Wonka “cynical and sadistic.”
♦ Pauline Kael in The New Yorker called it “stilted and frenetic.”
♦ Willy Wonka earned a disappointing $4 million—in comparisons to Willard’s $14 million.
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