James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause: Anticipating a New Horizon of Expectation

Forms of Culture and Relations with the Public
By Gilles Marion

This paper relies on the case provided by a book meticulously narrating the making of Rebel Without a Cause, one of the most famous films starring James Dean. This situation allows us to show the place of the potential audience in the movie directing/producing process in Hollywood. We look at market tests, we stress the compromise between the artistic project and the market (place) logic and we introduce the concept of “horizon of expectation”. We conclude that explicit models are not very useful for the management of the development process of such a “product”.


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