Founded in 1981 by the American Film Marketing Association, headed by the late producer Andy Vajna, in its early years the American Film Market had a substantial genre fee for selling VHS video rights abroad. But with the 1984s AmadeusThe AFM proved it could be home to more prestigious titles – and few of its offerings struck a more prestigious tone than Milos Forman’s award-winning film about the rivalry between Austrian court composer Antonio Salieri and upstart musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus. Mozart.
Record executive and filmmaker Saul Zentz was the driving force behind the production. It already had the 1975 Best Picture Oscar One flew over the cuckoo’s nest When he began assembling an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Tony-winning stage play. F. Starring Murray Abraham as the jealous Salieri and Tom Hulse as the hysterically grinning Mozart, the film was shot in Prague and Kromeriz, Czech Republic on a budget of $18 million. Orion Pictures is on board as the film’s US distributor. When it opened in September 1984, the film was immediately hailed as the best film of the year. Critic Roger Ebert called it “the riskiest gamble a filmmaker has taken in a long time”, adding that it is “a magnificent film, full and tender and funny and charming”.
Amadeus It grossed more than $90 million worldwide and earned 11 Oscar nominations — and it took home eight trophies, including Best Actor for Abraham, Best Director for Forman and Best Adapted Screenplay for Shaffer. Accepting the Best Picture Oscar at the 57th Academy Awards, Zentz acknowledged the international support for making the film a reality, saying, “Our thanks to Orion Pictures and distributors and theater owners worldwide. Amadeus before releasing it.”
This story first appeared in the Nov. 3 daily issue of The Hollywood Reporter on American Film Market.