Great filmmakers and classic films are very often misunderstood in their time (see the producers’ notes for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”), and so it goes for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Boogie Nights.” Given the subject matter, it’s probably not a surprise that the director’s second feature length film had a difficult time getting a green light, which was not helped by his initial insistence on an NC-17 rating. But it wasn’t his demands that resulted in “Boogie Nights” stalling —it was the script.
In this 1994 memo from 20th Century Fox, three years before “Boogie Nights” would eventually be released, the studio is none too impressed with the 186 page first draft of the screenplay, giving it a grade of “Poor” for both storyline and concept. Of course, we all know now that the project eventually landed at New Line, got made, established Anderson as a major director, showed that Mark Wahlberg had strong acting chops, and became an early career milestone for many of the actors involved. Maybe that draft changed, or maybe Anderson learned how to pitch it better, but in the end, “Boogie Nights” got made.
For an interesting piece of cinematic history, read the memo below. [Dangerous Minds]