Study Guide

Platoon Production Studio

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Production Studio

Orion Pictures and Hemdale

Consider this the little flick that could.

For a movie that won so many awards, it's amazing Platoon was ever produced in the first place. The film's journey from Oliver Stone's earliest ideas in 1969 to filming in the Philippines in 1986 was a rocky one.

First, the back-story. Oliver Stone had tried to get financing for Platoon in the mid seventies, but was repeatedly turned down (the realism of the film was too much for an industry—and a country—not ready to come to grips with the horrors of the war). Stone's talented writing, however, got him in through the back door, so to speak. He would go on to win an Oscar for his work on the screenplay for Midnight Express in 1979 and pen such memorable scripts as Scarface.

Stone's screen writing skills caught the attention of mega producer Dino DeLaurentiis, who solicited Stone's help on a film called Year of the Dragon. Stone agreed to help, but not without a little something for him. He made DeLaurentiis promise that he would secure funding for Platoon. Stone fulfilled his end of the bargain, but when de Laurentiis couldn't find somebody to pony up the dough for Platoon, he backed out, and tried to take the script with him (this was after Stone had already made plans to shoot in the Philippines and put together a makeshift cast). Oliver Stone would have none of it, and eventually had to threaten a lawsuit to get his screenplay back.

Now We're Getting Somewhere

Stone, meanwhile, had gotten a British production company—Hemdale—to finance another film he was making in the jungle: Salvador. At the time Hemdale was best known for a slew of independent films (mostly in Britain) as well as Terminator (1984) Before ultimately declaring bankruptcy in 1991, Hemdale would helm the production of a number of big films, including The Last Emperor (1987), winner of 9 Oscars, Hoosiers (1986), and The Return of the Living Dead (1985), among many other less successful releases.

Now during the filming of Salvador, director and Hemdale co-founder John Daly visited Oliver Stone on set and perused the Platoon script. He was so impressed that he handed it off to Arnold Kopelson. Kopelson was deeply moved by the script, and Hemdale wanted to produce the film. They also wanted Stone to make some edits to Salvador. Kopelson brokered a deal between Stone and Hemdale, and the latter agreed to cough up the cash to make the film.

While the story mostly ends there, there's one other little production tidbit to discuss: the involvement of Orion Pictures. While Kopelson hired Orion mostly for distribution purposes, the company did contribute some cash. Orion has been involved with several hundred films, but some of the highlights include: Amadeus (1984), Hoosiers (1986), Mississippi Burning (1988), Dances with Wolves (1990), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

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