Ben-Hur (1959), Jaws (1975), Avatar (2009), Wonder Woman (2017): the blockbuster movie has held a dominant position in American popular culture for decades. In American Blockbuster: Movies, Technology, and Wonder (Duke University Press, 2020), Charles R. Acland charts the origins, impact, and dynamics of this most visible, entertaining, and disparaged cultural form. Acland narrates how blockbusters emerged from Hollywood's turn to a hit-driven focus during the industry's business crisis in the 1950s. Movies became bigger, louder, and more spectacular. They also became prototypes for ideas and commodities associated with the future of technology and culture, accelerating the prominence of technological innovation in modern American life. Acland shows that blockbusters continue to be more than just movies; they are industrial strategies and complex cultural machines designed to normalize the ideologies of our technological age.
Charles R. Acland is Distinguished University Research Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University, Montreal. He is the author of Swift Viewing: The Popular Life of Subliminal Influence and Screen Traffic: Movies, Multiplexes, and Global Culture, and coeditor of Useful Cinema, all also published by Duke University Press.