Pentagon Runs Hollywood
Ben Gunn, March 30th 1999


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This is a translated article from the Swedish Newspaper "Hallandsposten", on March 26th 1999:

Military movies are popular right now, but it's not critical movies they are making in Hollywood. On the contrary, the American Military Headquarter Pentagon is often allowed to decide upon big parts of the manuscripts. This is revealed in the media magazine "Brills Content".

US Military has officers who's job is to discuss film projects with Hollywood. The military is allowed to read the manuscript in advance and often come up with suggestions on changes, especially when it comes to parts that give a negative picture of the military.

An example: In the script to the movie "Asteroid" an American space-shuttle is sent into space with nuclear weapons onboard for to burst the asteroid which threatens the world, into pieces. But Pentagon didn't like the idea, as USA had signed a treaty against nuclear weapons in space.

In exchange for that the script was altered so that the asteroid instead was attacked with the help of missile equipped fighter aircraft, the air force placed one F-16 airplane, one air base, pilots and flying time to their disposal. The movie became dramatic and the air force had the opportunity to show up their latest equipment and heroic pilots.

The military think they get so good promotion in the Hollywood films they choose to participate in, that they lend equipment and personnel for free. The only thing the film companies need to pay is extra costs like air fuel.

The airforce gets about 100 film scripts into their hands every year, and in one single year they participate in around 30 projects. A liaison officer in Los Angeles is working actively to sell in the air force in Hollywood. Producers and directors are invited for demonstrations of new weapon systems.

Before the big movie "Armageddon" intensive negotiations were held between the air force, who wanted Bruce Willis to mould a retired air force technician, and the director Jerry Bruckheimer, who wanted him to be a former marine. As a compromise a new character was created, who was from the air force.

Sometimes the military offer their participation if they don't like the script. In "Broken Arrow" a nuclear weapon is stolen. The military saw this as intolerable, and Pentagon said no to give "full assistance" to the film team. Nevertheless the air force gave a limited help with information about uniforms etc.

The reason the producers agree to give the military such a big influence over the movies is that real military hardware is very valuable for the filmmakers. Nothing is better than a real fighter aircraft or a real hangar. The producers save lots of money if Pentagon lends them important properties for free. The alternative would be to rent expensive helicopters and other vehicles and re-paint them.

Before the big movie "Air Force one" the US air force lent six F-158 planes almost for free.

The alternative would have been to move the production to Israel, where the military lends such air planes for around $ 25.000 an hour.