Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1978

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
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1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979

The Year 1978
Year
Event and Significance
1978
Philips introduced the video laser disc (aka laserdisc and LD) -- the first optical disc storage media for the consumer market. Pioneer began selling home LaserDisc players in 1980. Eventually, the laserdisc systems would be replaced by the DVD ("digital versatile disc") format in the late 1990s.
1978
Disney licensed its cartoon compilations to MCA's DiscoVision - these were the first Disney videos available to the public.
1978
Grease (1978) continued the explosion of rock-music hit films (after Saturday Night Fever (1977)) - again featuring super-star John Travolta paired with singer Olivia Newton-John - they were the "oldest" teenagers in America at the time. Its success led to a disastrous run of inferior imitators, including: Thank God It's Friday (1978), Can't Stop the Music (1980), Xanadu (1980), The Apple (1980), Grease 2 (1982), Staying Alive (1983), etc.
1978
Orion Pictures Corporation was formed as a joint organization between Warner Bros. Pictures and three disgruntled, top-level executives at United Artists, who left over disagreements with UA's parent company Transamerica about lack of control and conflict over the future film Heaven's Gate (1980).
1978
Vietnam Era films began to appear at the end of the 70s, including Hal Ashby's Coming Home (1978), Sidney Furie's The Boys in Company C (1978), Ted Post's Go Tell the Spartans (1978), Best Director-winning Michael Cimino's controversial Best Picture-winning The Deer Hunter (1978), and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979).
1978
Writer/producer/director Michael Cimino's epic about war and friendship - The Deer Hunter (1978) - and only his second film (following Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)), was a powerful, disturbing and compelling look at the Vietnam War through the lives of three blue-collar, Russian-American friends in a small steel-mill town before, during, and after their service in the war. The most talked-about and controversial sequence in the film was the contrived, theatrical, and fictional Russian Roulette torture, imposed on the American POW's during wartime and played as a game in a Vietnamese gambling den. However, there were no documented cases or historical reports of the deadly game in actuality. Auteur Cimino's successful epic led to further funding for his films in Hollywood - mostly box-office failures, including Cimino's excessive and costly Heaven's Gate (1980) - a film that virtually bankrupted its studio, United Artists.
1978
John Carpenter's low-budget teen slasher film Halloween (1978) began the teen slasher film cycle, although it was dismissed at the time as schlock by most critics, until championed by the Village Voice and the 'Ebert & Siskel' Sneak Previews PBS-TV review show as a work of art. For many years, it was the highest grossing independent film of all time. Its main heroine character was portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, who was following in their footsteps. She had received a casting break in the role of stalked girl-next-door babysitter Laurie Strode in the first of a long series of horror slashers. Future roles easily came her way, in Trading Places (1983), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), and the action hit True Lies (1994). Unfortunately, Halloween spawned numerous, often routine and mediocre sequels (seven sequels and remakes in 2007 and 2009), and ushered in a glut of other similarly gory films (such as Friday the 13th (1980) and Prom Night (1980)).
1978
Cult film auteur director Ed Wood, Jr. died at the age of 54 in Los Angeles, CA. He was noted for his cheap, poorly-made turkey films, including the semi-autobiographical exploitation film about cross-dressing Glen or Glenda (1953) and the sci-fi Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959).
1978
On July 25, 1978, the first successful birth of a test-tube baby (Louise Brown) occurred in Oldham, England. Her in vitro fertilization (IVF) actually occurred in a petri dish.
1978
Marlon Brando broke the $3 million mark for an actor's earnings, when he was reportedly paid a salary of $3.7 million and over 11 percent of the gross (his total earnings were $14 million) for his 10-minute cameo appearance (shot over 12 days) as Jor-El, the title character's father in the blockbuster Superman: The Movie (1978). He also received top-billing (with Gene Hackman) over Christopher Reeve.
1978
(National Lampoon's) Animal House (1978), a wildly-successful gross-out teen comedy with unrefined humor - about an anarchic party-animal frat house at fictitious Faber College, was the first $100 million hit comedy. It was one of the earliest films to be targeted directly at the teenaged audience - and set the stage for further Hollywood films made just for that demographic. It ushered in a growing era of gross-out teen comedy.
1978
In early March of 1978, following Charlie Chaplin's death in Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977 and burial, his body was stolen from the grave where it was buried two months earlier in a small cemetery in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey. The body was held for ransom by the extortionist grave robbers, but their plot was foiled (and they were arrested) when the body was recovered two months later near Lake Geneva and subsequently reburied in a new, solid cement grave.
1978
The Garfield comic strip, created by Jim Davis, made its debut in 41 U.S. newspapers on June 19, 1978, and eventually became one of the most widely-syndicated comic strips of all-time. The first feature film derived from the strip was Garfield: The Movie (2004).


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