'Dear Mr. Kubrick': Audience Responses to 2001: A Space Odyssey in the Late 1960s

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Stanley Kubrick’s highly unconventional Science Fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was one of the biggest hits of the late 1960s in the US. This success has traditionally been explained with reference to the film’s particular appeal to youth. This paper examines a wide range of letters sent to Kubrick by cinemagoers in the late 1960s, and identifies four types of audience responses to 2001: rejection, dialogue, celebration and appropriation. The paper concludes that the largely positive letters, together with additional research on the film’s box office performance, strongly suggest that 2001 was a success with very diverse audience segments, and that an optimistic belief in the possibility of fundamental personal and social transformation may have been at the root of this success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalParticipations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

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