[Ads-l] tentpole

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 2 18:08:40 UTC 2018

On Sun, Sep 2, 2018 at 1:58 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>

> Huh?:
> "There’s so much to like about the picture *in theory*: a sophisticated
> literary adaptation with a distinguished cast, geared toward grown-ups,
> only gently suggesting itself as a tentpole. But Branagh just can’t find a
> tone that works, ...."
> http://flavorwire.com/611271/messy-new-murder-on-the-
> orient-express-adaptation-is-a-missed-opportunity

I wrote about the use of "tentpole" in the movie industry in this 2015 WSJ

At this time of year, the major Hollywood studios roll out the franchise
movies that they hope will hit it big. This week sees the release of "Mad
Max: Fury Road" from Warner Bros. and "Pitch Perfect 2" from Universal,
competing against Disney-Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron," already in
All these movies carry the label of "tentpoles": known quantities that
studio executives have strategically timed so that their gross revenues can
financially prop up an entire year's worth of releases, offsetting any
The "tentpole" analogy for blockbuster movies goes back to the mid-1980s,
when Paramount Pictures was lining up the high-budget "Star Trek" and
"Indiana Jones" franchises, as well as star vehicles for the likes of Tom
Cruise and Eddie Murphy.
Paramount chairman Frank Mancuso Sr. laid out his "tentpole philosophy" to
reporters from Newsweek and the New York Times in the summer of 1987, when
"The Untouchables" and Mr. Murphy's "Beverly Hills Cop II" were dominating
the box office. "Tentpoles," Mr. Mancuso explained at the time, were movies
"that because of content, star value or story line have immediate


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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