- by Wes
Penre, March 30, 1999 -
This is a translated article from the Swedish Newspaper "Hallandsposten",
on March 26th 1999:
Military movies are popular right now, but it's not critical movies
that are made in Hollywood. On the contrary, the American Military Headquarter
Pentagon is often allowed to decide big parts of the manuscripts. This
is revealed in the media magazine "Brills Content".
US Military have officers whose job is to discuss film projects with
Hollywood. The military is allowed to read the manuscript in advance and
often come up with suggestions for changes, especially when it comes to parts
that give a negative picture of the military.
An example: In the script to the movie "Asteroid" an American
space-shuttle is sent into space with nuclear weapons onboard to burst
the asteroid which threatens the world, into pieces. But Pentagon didn't
like the idea, as USA had signed a treaty against nuclear weapons in space.
In exchange for that the script was altered so that the asteroid instead
was attacked with the help of missile equipped fighter aircraft; the air
force placed one F-16 airplane, one air base, pilots and flying time to
their disposal. The movie became dramatic and the air force had the opportunity
to show up their latest equipment and heroic pilots.
The military think they get so good promotion in the Hollywood films they
choose to participate in, that they lend equipment and personnel for free.
The only thing the film companies need to pay is extra costs, like air fuel.
The air force receives about 100 film scripts in their hands each year, and
in one single year they participate in around 30 projects. A liaison officer
in Los Angeles is working actively to sell in the air force in Hollywood.
Producers and directors are invited to watch demonstrations of new weapon systems.
Before the big movie "Armageddon" intensive negotiations were
held between the air force, who wanted Bruce
Willis to mould a retired air
force technician, and the director Jerry Bruckheimer, who wanted him to
be a former marine. As a compromise a new character was created, who was
from the air force.
Sometimes the military offer their participation if they don't like
the script. In "Broken Arrow" a nuclear weapon is stolen. The
military saw this as intolerable, and Pentagon said no to giving "full
assistance" to the film team. Nevertheless the air force gave limited
assistance with information about uniforms etc.
The reason the producers agree to give the military such a big influence
over the movies is that real military hardware is very valuable for the
filmmakers. Nothing is better than a real fighter aircraft or a real hangar.
The producers save lots of money if Pentagon lends them important properties
for free. The alternative would be to rent expensive helicopters and other
vehicles and re-paint them.
Before the big movie "Air Force one" the US air force lent six
F-158 planes almost for free.
The alternative would have been to move the production to Israel, where
the military lends such air planes for around $25.000/hour.