Castle Rock Entertainment
When Harry Met Sally put Castle Rock Entertainment on the map. It was the movie that launched a thousand other movies—and it all comes back to Rob Reiner.
Way back in 1987—when When Harry Met Sally was a bit more than a twinkle in Reiner's eye, but not exactly a done deal—he and his movie buddies formed a production company called Castle Rock Entertainment. They named it after the fictional town in Maine in which Stephen King set many of his stories (if you're wondering why, it's because Reiner directed Stand By Me, which is an adaptation of King's The Body, which is set in—you guessed it—Castle Rock, Maine).
After the block-busting success of When Harry Met Sally, it became clear that these Castle Rock folks were onto something. Part of that may have come from their very clear vision for the kind of production company they wanted to be. In an interview, Rob Reiner lays it out for us:
The main philosophy was to provide an atmosphere and a haven for filmmakers, artists, to come and do their work—do their best work—unencumbered by the pressures of a studio. It was like Castle Rock, the idea of the lighthouse was "safe harbor," that we'd bring you safe and you could come here and be safe and not worry about, you know, having to navigate the rocky shoals of a studio atmosphere.
We also had a philosophy—and this is something I had always felt—that there were four types of movies, you know? There are good movies that make a lot of money, there are good movies that make no money, there are bad movies that make a lot of money, and there are bad movies that make no money. So we might as well […] do a quality product. Some of them will make money, others won't, but at the end of the day, you'll have a good output to show for you. You'll have improved the culture in some way, you'll have added to the culture by putting some good films out there. (Source)
Sounds like a good philosophy to Shmoop. After all, it's that very philosophy that brought us When Harry Met Sally.
The One that Started it All
As it turns out, When Harry Met Sally was the first film that Castle Rock ever produced. And hoo boy, was it risky. Skipping all the numbers stuff, let's just say that Castle Rock pretty much banked its entire financial worth on that movie. It had to borrow to get it made, borrow to get it released, and if Harry and Sally didn't pull through for Reiner and his buddies, well, Castle Rock would have been dead in the water. While it certainly wasn't easy, we're betting things were a bit simpler, given the fact that the movie's man producer—Rob Reiner—and its director were, well, the same person. No sticky budget squabbles here. No differences of artistic opinion. Reiner directed, produced, and pretty much made this movie happen.
Thanks to the initial success of When Harry Met Sally, Castle Rock went on to make a whole boatload of critically acclaimed and financially successful movies. Eventually it was bought by Ted Turner and then Time Warner, which we're betting helped with its early budgetary concerns. If you ask Shmoop, we'd tell you that in our humble opinion, the heyday of Castle Rock was the early '90s, when the company churned out these classics (among others):
- City Slickers (1991)
- A Few Good Men (1992)
- In the Line of Fire (1993)
- The Shawshank Redemption (1995)
- The American President (1995)
Much a Show About Nothing
Fun Fact: Rob Reiner's not just a movie man. Castle Rock has also tried its hand in producing a number of television shows. While most of them aren't exactly cultural touchstones or critical darlings, we're betting you've heard of a little show called Seinfeld?