Watch Now: BIG WEDNESDAY
In 1978, American filmmaker John Milius, whose screenwriting work on Apocalypse Now would go on to earn him an Oscar nomination, made a very personal movie that he and everyone around him thought was destined to become a smash hit. The director even had a deal with friends Steven Spielberg and George Lucas that they would swap a percentage point of their three upcoming movies, set to be released in 1977 and 1978. The movies in question were Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas’ Stars Wars and Milius’ Big Wednesday. But Milius was dealt a hard blow when his coming-of-age film about three California surfers and friends (played by Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt and Gary Busey) flopped at the box office and received unfavorable reviews.
Nonetheless, Big Wednesday managed to gain cult status in the years to come, becoming regarded as one of the greatest surfer films ever made and impacting the surfer subculture in more ways than one. Basing the screenplay on their own experiences, as well as the experiences of their friends, avid surfers Milius and co-writer Dennis Aaberg made a film that is primarily about friendship and the inevitable transformations such relationships go through, set against the backdrop of the protagonists’ shared passion for surfing.