State of Cinema: The Richard Alan Nelson Collection

Florida has long played host to the production of films and television series, from seminal horror film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, parts of which were filmed in our very own Wakulla Springs!) to the current production of Bad Boys for Life (currently filming in Miami and slated for a 2020 release). The Richard Alan Nelson Collection contains documents detailing film production in various Florida cities, movie posters, motion picture companies, publicity stills of actors and actresses, and film law.

The collection even features a folder (7, in Box 922) of what the cinema scene looked like in Tallahassee at the time of Nelson’s dissertation work, the late 1970s. In a preserved volume of New Look, a local entertainment magazine, journalist Rick Oppenheim described local cinemas struggling to keep their doors open, paying “90% of their box office receipts (with house operations skimmed off the top) to a tight-fisted [film] distributor for the rental of a first-run film”, leading to cinemas holding on to blockbuster films like Star Wars (which were highly expensive to rent) for months on end, and less likely to gamble on new films which may hurt their bottom line.

For more information on this collection, please visit its finding aid. If you’d like to visit Special Collections and explore the documents in person, we welcome visitors Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm.

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