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The Hollywood Studio System

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  1. The Hollywood Studio System

  2. History • The Hollywood studio system had its golden age between 1930 and 1952. During this period it produced many films in an almost formulaic ‘factory production line’ manner. • However many of the supposed classics of Hollywood were made by the studios and studio contracted directors featuring studio contracted actors. • Films such as ‘Casablanca’, Gone with the Wind’ and ‘Singin in The Rain’ .

  3. continued • The studio system was dominated by five companies: • Paramount • MGM • 20th Century Fox • Warner Bros • United Artists • Three smaller companies also existed but did not own their cinema chain to show their productions: • Universal, Columbia and RKO.

  4. Vertical Integration • The big 5 as they were known, applied the concept of vertical integration to their businesses. • This is when the company controls just about every step of the production and doesn’t need to rely on any other company. • The big 5 made the films with contracted directors and actors (that they more or less owned), distributed them with their own distribution companies and then exhibited them in their own chain of cinemas.

  5. Task: • Look at the research worksheet in your handbooks and research one of the ‘big 5’ along with one of the 3 ‘minors’.

  6. Hollywood today • Hollywood today is a different place although the big studios ( which now number 12 or so) still control most of the money that is made in the industry. However the process of getting a film made has changed. • Now studios no longer make films with contracted directors or actors, they ‘strike deals’ based on the ‘package’ with independent production companies, based on the actors involved, the genre and of course the quality of the script. • If a film gets the ‘greenlight’ by a studio then they will agree to finance it.

  7. Film Profit margins • Hollywood is still dictated by money, hence the string of summer blockbusters that are released form around May. • Many of the ‘blockbuster films’ are low on originality and are often remakes or sequels. • Why do Hollywood do this? • It creates an almost guaranteed audience for the film and therefore generates the most income. • The films that really excite the industry are the low budget ‘sleeper hits’ that turnover millions at the box office as these will have the greatest profit margin.

  8. Case Study • Look at the handout/worksheet on the films of 1997: • Titanic vs The Full Monty.