The union of Realart sales manager James H. Nicholson and entertainment lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff, American International Pictures went after teenagers. Understanding they couldn’t compete for the adult market, AIP were the first to use focus groups asking teens what they would like to see and applying their reactions to decide direction, stars, and content. AIP leaned on what exhibitors thought and then would have a writer create a script. Typically the poster was first, then the raising of funds, and after that the writing and casting.
Arkoff had a philosophy known as The Arkoff Formula which he applied to low budget filmmaking. Using his name as an acronym, A was for Action, R for Revolution, K for Killing, O for Oratory, F for Fantasy, and F for Fornication. Later on American International’s publicity department conceived an approach called The Peter Pan Syndrome that consisted of “A) a younger child will watch anything an older child will watch, B) an older child will not watch anything a younger child will watch, C) a girl will watch anything a boy will watch, D) a boy will not watch anything a girl will watch; therefore: to catch your greatest audience you zero in on the 19-year-old male.”
Nicholson and Arkoff were the executive producers while Roger Corman and Alex Gordon were the primary film producers and occasional directors. Charles B. Griffith and Lou Rusoff scripted most of the early films. Other writers were Ray Russell, Richard Matheson, and Charles Beaumont. Floyd Crosby High Noon’s (1952) cinematographer was the chief DP for the company. In the 50s, AIP kept several actors under contract among them John Ashley, Steve Terrell, and Fay Spain. Herman Cohen, Robert Gurney, Bert I. Gordon, Burt Topper, and Norman T. Herman were key producers who broadened AIP’s product in the early years.
Acquiring pictures from outside producers, importing films from Italy, and bankrolling Corman’s Poe Cycle, American International thrived into the 60s and 70s gifting MST3K 34 experiments. More than any other source. The Crawling Hand (1963), Daddy-O (1958), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), It Conquered the World (1956), Earth vs. the Spider (1958), Teenage Cave Man (1958), Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), Attack of the The Eye Creatures (1967), Gunslinger (1961), The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962), Colossus and the Headhunters (1963), The Amazing Transparent Man (1960), Samson vs. the Vampire Women (1962), Night of the Blood Beast (1958), The Incredible Melting Man (1977). Sweepsakes or Musical Chairs?