These days, Steven Spielberg is a ticket sales all by himself, but that was not always the case. His first big hit came in 1975 with the critically beloved “Jaws”, the iconic film about shark attacks that paved the way for Spielberg’s famous career. Right on the heels of that, he followed up with the sci-fi epic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” another huge hit.
At this point, it seemed that he could not do anything wrong. And then came “1941”. A World War II parody film featuring an ensemble crew member with Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Lee and Mickey Rourke, “1941” sounds like it should have been another hit for Spielberg. Unfortunately, the audience did not show up for it – at least not in the kind of tracks that were expected after “Jaws” and “Close Encounters”. Spielberg said it himself – he played it safe:
“In 1941, I became a bit like Colonel Kurtz. After my great successes, the studio was too scared to send Martin Sheen to end my command with extreme prejudice. Now I just wanted to make a movie where people would say he is a responsible director who came in under budget and on schedule. “
Unfortunately, the studios wanted another hit release to follow Spielberg’s previous hits, and despite earning over $ 90 million, “1941” was considered a failure. And that made the studios nervous when it came to “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Actor Jon Rhys-Davies, who played Sallah, said:
“Steven had just had a relatively critical failure by 1941, and the knives were out – the whiz kid had clay feet, he was just a twinkle in his forehead.”
But despite anxieties, his old friend George Lucas would not budge. He wanted Spielberg on the film.