Production, Distribution and Exhibition Hollywood Studio History
Film and Society: Basic Questions l Who makes the movies we see, and why? l Who sees film, how and why? l What is available to be seen? l How are films evaluated, and by whom?
What makes the image move? l Persistence of vision l Critical flicker fusion l Apparent motion
Who makes the image move? l l The major Hollywood studios (1910 -1960) Conglomerates (1970 s-present), controlling • Movie studios • Record companies • Theater chains • Amusement parks • Cable channels • Television networks • And. . .
Early History of the Motion Picture Industry l Highly competitive with easy access for new business: • Interchangeable products • Smallness of buyers and sellers in relation to • • the market Absence of artificial restraints Accessibility of resources
The Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) l Thomas Edison formed the MPPC (the “Trust”) in 1908 as a PATENTS POOL • Cooperative of leading US and French film • • companies Dominated the film industry from 1908 -1915 Successfully excluded small companies from the market
Why did the MPPC fail? l l l Could not meet product demand Producers located sellers overseas not bound by the MPPC Some independent producers moved productions out of the NY and NJ area, eventually to California Independent distributors set up a non-MPPC distribution network Declared a monopoly in 1915 as the result of a 1912 anti-trust case brought by Fox Studios
The Rise of the Hollywood Studio System From Monopoly (the MPPC) to Oligopoly (the Studio System)
How did the Big Five control all three levels of the industry? VERTICAL INTEGRATION of: • Production: Camera and projector technology, scripting, and filming • Distribution: Marketing and delivering films into theaters • Exhibition: Delivering movies to the public in theaters
How did the studios control production? Factory principles of production made it possible: • Centralized production; huge staffs • Division and specialization of labor • Standardization of product • Specialization of employees • Grading films in terms of prestige standardized budgets
How did the studios control distribution? l l Trade practices effectively closed the market to films made outside the studio system, particularly the practice of block booking Emphasis on marketing films in Europe and other foreign countries required efficient administrative organization
How did the studios control exhibition? l Run l Zone l Clearance l Block Booking • First, second, third • Geographic coverage without overlaps • Elapsed time between runs • Rental in packages of assorted films
High Sierra: A Case Study l An A feature, starring Bogart and Lupino Starts first run on January 25, 1941 l Second run in May, 1941 l Third run in Fall, 1941 l • Studio-run theaters in 100 large cities • Ticket price=$1. 00 to $1. 25 • Second run theaters (smaller cities) • Ticket price=$. 40 to $. 75 • Neighborhood and rural theaters • Ticket price=$. 25
Genre: How a film is marketed l l l Genre: One of several categories of movies that audiences and filmmakers recognize by their familiar narrative conventions Regulated Difference: Genres benefit the industry by allowing both product standardization and product differentiation Examples of Hollywood genres?
What undermined the studio system? No one thing—four large factors came together in the late 1940 s: § Postwar Changes in Society § The Rise of Television § The House Committee on Un-American Activities § The Paramount Decision of 1948
The Paramount Decision § § § In 1948, Supreme Court ruled the studios in violation of Sherman Anti-Trust Act, restricting fair trade Court ordered the Big Five studios to divest their theatre chains, where the bulk of their net worth was invested (94%) Effect: studios cut their film production by half; opened the way for independent producers, though that opening was shortlived
Entertainment Industry Consolidation l l l 1980 s—Reagan deregulated the industry Link between production and distribution reestablished as media conglomerates formed, with a new Big Six Saturation booking replaced clearance Subsidiary markets increased in importance International grosses also grew as Hollywood dominated the world market
Sources of Studio Income Today § § § § Box office revenues Cable and pay-per-view DVD sales, rentals and downloads Distribution of films globally Studio distribution of independent films Product placement in movies Merchandizing and promotion rights