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  • Robert Redford makes his directorial debut with Ordinary People.
  • Raging Bull, directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Robert de Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci.
  • Ronald Reagan is the first movie actor elected President of the United States
  • Sherry Lansing becomes the first female to head a major studio, 20th Century Fox.
  • Pioneer begin marketing its videodisc (laserdisc) machines.
  • Actor Robert Redford begins the Sundance Institute.

  • Heaven's Gate is the biggest financial disaster since Cleopatra and marks the beginning of the end for United Artists
  • Mentally-ill stalker, John Hinckley tries to impress actress Jodie Foster by attempting to assassinate President Ronald Regan.
  • Body Heat, is Directorial debut of Lawrence Kasdan, stars William Hurt and debut of Kathleen Turner. One of the first erotic thriller, a sub-genre which will become immensely popular.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark is a collaboration of Steven Speilberg and George Lucas.
  • On Golden Pond, stars Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn.
  • Francis Coppola sponsors restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon, setting off an interest in film preservation
  • United Artists is bought and merges with MGM to form MGM/UA.
  • Oil tycoon Marvin Davis buys 20th Century Fox.

  • Diner, acclaimed directorial debut of Barry Levinson
  • The World According to Garp, directed by George Roy Hill, debuts Glenn Close, Robin Williams and John Lithgow.
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, directed by Steven Speilberg, becomes highest grossing film in history.
  • In Sweden, Ingmar Bergman directs final film, Fanny and Alexander.
  • Dustin Hoffman becomes a woman in Tootsie.
  • Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.
  • Disney's Tron makes extensive use of computer-generated graphics
  • Columbia Pictures is bought by the Coca-Cola company.

  • Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger collaborate on Terms of Endearment.
  • Woody Allen's Zelig suggests the technical possibilities of combining characters with historical footage
  • 20th Century Fox begins to openly solicit deals to display brand names in their films.

  • Sixteen Candles marks big screen directorial debut for John Hughes.
  • A biography on Mozart, Amadeus becomes a surprise success
  • Terminator begins the rise to prominence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and director James Cameron
  • The IFP Independent Spirit Awards, honoring independent films, is founded.
  • Disney sets up Touchstone Pictures to make more adult oriented films.
  • American Movie Classics (AMC) cable station begins.

  • Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey debut in Steven Speilberg's The Color Purple.
  • Steven Speilberg produced Back to the Future, directed by Robert Zemeckis.
  • Colorization technique is introduced causing an outcry as black and white films are changed
  • Redford's Sundance Institute takes over the U.S. Film Festival and later renames it the Sundance Film Festival.
  • Rock Hudson's homosexuality is revealed when he becomes the first major film industry figure to die of AIDS.

  • Parting Glances becomes the first important film on AIDS. It is director Bill Sherwood's only movie, as he succumbed to the disease in 1990.
  • Debuts of directors Penny Marshall in Jumpin Jack Flash and Spike Lee in She's Gotta Have It.
  • Oliver Stone directs realistic view of Vietnam in Platoon.
  • Ted Turner buys the MGM/UA film library for his TBS cable station.

  • Cry Freedom brings Aparthied in South Africa to the forefront around the world.
  • Fatal Attraction begins a new series of paranoid fantasies
  • Lethal Weapon and Predator marks the Action movie as the dominant genre for the next few years
  • Premiere magazine begins publishing.

  • Born on the Fourth of July is director Oliver Stone's second Vietnam movie, stars Tom Cruise.
  • Sex, Lies, and Videotapes, is directorial debut of Steven Soderbergh. A winner of many awards, it was filmed on a budget of less than $3 million.
  • Spike Lee directs Do the Right Thing.
  • Tim Burton directs Batman and starts a new superhero series.
  • Kenneth Branagh makes his debut with Henry V establishes himself as the Spakespearean director of his generation
  • Jessica Tandy becomes the oldest performer at 81 to win a best acting Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy.

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