Technology at the Movies “Watching Avatar, I felt sort of the same as when I saw Star Wars in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations…. Avatar is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It’s a technical breakthrough.” —Roger Ebert
Early Technology and the Evolution of Movies• In 1889 Goodwin invented celluloid. • Bought by Eastman• Edison patented kinetoscope and vitascope.
Early Technology and the Evolution of Movies• Méliès made the earliest narrative films.• Nickelodeons • Silent films, “shorts” • Popular with new immigrants—images crossed language barriers.
The Rise of the Hollywood Studio System• Edison’s Trust: Cartel of major U.S. and French producers • Exclusive deal with Eastman• Zukor formed the Famous Players Company. • Mary Pickford broke off to form United Artists.• The studio system (1920s) controlled creative talent.
The Rise of the Hollywood Studio System (cont.)• Zukor’s block booking • Exhibitors forced to rent new or marginal films along with popular films• Zukor and Fox defeated the Trust • Dominated industry through vertical integration• Oligopoly:• Big Five – Paramount, MDM, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, RKO• Little Three – (did not own theaters) Columbia, Universal, and United Artists
The Studio System’s Golden Age• Blockbusters • The Birth of a Nation (1915) is considered the first.• Talkies • 1927 Warner Brothers’ film The Jazz Singer• Fox studio’s newsreels • Movietone captured first film footage with sound of the takeoff and return of Charles Lindbergh.
The Development of Hollywood Style• Hollywood narrative: • Character • Beginning, middle and end • Plot • Resolving conflict• Genres include: • Action/Adventure • Comedy • Drama • Fantasy/Science Fiction • Film Noir • Horror • Musicals • Westerns
The Development of Hollywood Style (cont.)• Hollywood “auteurs” • Directors develop a particular style or interest. • Stemmed from Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider and George Lucas’s American Graffiti • New Wave of directors: E.g. Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg • Female directors, minorities receive few opportunities.
Outside the Hollywood System • Global cinema • Did well in 1920s and 1950s–1960s • Losing ground as they compete with American indies • The documentary tradition • Cinema verité • Recent resurgence in documentary filmmaking • Rise of indies • Independent film festivals important for discovering new talent
The Transformation of the Studio System• The Hollywood Ten • Investigations of alleged subversive and communist ties • Led by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) • Blacklisted and boycotted by major studios• Paramount decision - 1948 • Major studios forced to end vertical integration
Television Changes Hollywood • By the mid-1950s TV replaces radio and movies for family entertainment. • Movies begin to take on more serious content in response: • Anti-Semitism: Gentleman’s Agreement, 1947 • Sexuality: Peyton Place, 1957 • Also develop new technologies • CinemaScope, Technicolor
Hollywood Adapts to Home Entertainment• Introduction of cable and videocassettes in 1970s changed movie exhibition.• Video market was a financial bonanza for movie industry.• Now video rental market is declining, due to Netflix and Internet downloading/streaming.
The Economics of the Movie Business• 1.42 billion movie tickets sold in 2009• 2009 gross box office revenues = $10.6 billion• Sales and rental business still produces more revenue: $20 billion.• Movie business revamped its production, distribution, and exhibition system and consolidated its ownership to survive.
Figure 6.1Gross Revenues from Box-Office Sales, 1908–2009
The Economics of the Movie Business (cont.)• In the 1970s, suburban moviegoers made hits of Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977).• Studios devised strategies to create future blockbusters.• Studios need a couple of major hits each year to offset costs of other films. • 80–90% of films fail at box office.
Figure 6.2Top Movie Theater Chains in North America
The Major Studio Players • Warner Brothers • Paramount • Twentieth Century Fox • Universal • Columbia Pictures • Disney • Only Disney not owned by larger conglomerate
Figure 6.3Market Share of U.S. Film Studios and Distributors, 2009 (in $Millions)
What Disney OwnsMovies Publishing – A&E Television Networks• Walt Disney Pictures • Disney Publishing • ESPN, Inc. (80 percent)– Walt Disney Animation Worldwide • ABC-owned televisionStudios • ESPN The Magazine stations (10)– Pixar Animation Studios • Marvel Entertainment– Touchstone Pictures • Wondertime magazine Internet/Mobile Content– Hollywood Pictures • FamilyFun magazine • The Walt Disney Internet• Walt Disney Studios Motion GroupPictures International Television/Radio – Disney.com• Walt Disney Studios Home • Disney-ABC Television – ESPN360.comEntertainment Group – ESPN Mobile Properties – ABC – mDisney mobileMusic – ABC News – Club Penguin• Disney Music Group – ABC Family– Walt Disney Records – ABC Studios Disney Parks and Resorts– Hollywood Records – Disney Channel • Disneyland Resorts and– Lyric Street Records Worldwide Parks (5 locations) – Lifetime Entertainment • Disney Cruise Line Services • Adventures by Disney
Convergence: Movies Adjust to the Internet Age• Movie industry worked to embrace digital downloads.• Netflix, Amazon.com, Hulu, and YouTube all offer digital movie rentals.• Internet also an essential tool for movie marketingHow often do you download or stream movies online?
Alternative Voices• Digital video: • Cheaper and more accessible than standard film equipment • Films can be made for much less money. • Same format as DVDs and Internet video, so films can be distributed online easily
Popular Movies and Democracy• Do U.S. films contribute to a global village in which people share a universal culture?• Or do U.S. films stifle local culture and diversity?