Hollywood film industry


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Hollywood film industry

  1. 1. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryAS Film StudiesFM2: British &American Cinema:The HollywoodFilm Industry 1
  2. 2. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryThe American Film IndustryThe film industry is one of global proportions. Production, film distribution andexhibition reach around the world and continue to adapt to varying political,economic and technological changes. Hollywood however continues to be adominant factor in our film viewing experiences. Even if we choose not towatch Hollywood movies, the chances are that we will encounter Hollywoodmarketing through accessing other media (trailers on TV, internet, videogametie-ins), walking through town (posters), listening to radio (film adverts,‘exclusive’ interviews/promotions), listening to music (‘official’ soundtracks),catching the bus (advertising hoardings), eating breakfast cereal (freetoys/promotions inside), going to bed (‘Spiderman’ pyjamas) etc. Consideringthat Hollywood remains a suburb of Los Angeles, California, its reach andsaturation remains global and unavoidable.Our own experiences will play an important role in this study: the magazinesand newspapers we read, our conversations with friends and family, theDVDs we buy and films we watch and download. These experiences confirmthe presence of the film industry as a worldwide commercial fact. • Aside from Hollywood, what other film industries are you aware of? • How do you consume film? Where do you watch them? Who with? • List as many cinemas as you can within five or six miles. What sorts of films are available? How may screens? Do you know how much the tickets are? How do they advertise? 2
  3. 3. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryHollywoodAs early as the 1910’s the US film industry began to shift its base from theEast coast to what was essentially a place in the Californian Desert on theedge of Los Angeles. Since this time Hollywood has famously been builtaround studios: well financed big name companies in the business of makingfilms and making money from films. • What do you think was so attractive about building film studios in such a remote location? What could they achieve? • Watch the trailers for Casablanca (1942) and Citizen Kane (1941). How might these be seen as typical Hollywood movies? What parallels can we draw with those produced today?HistoryOriginsIn the United States, the first exhibitions of films for large audiences typically followed theintermissions in vaudeville shows. Entrepreneurs began travelling to exhibit their films,bringing to the world the first forays into dramatic film-making. The first huge success ofAmerican cinema, as well as the largest experimental achievement to this point, was TheGreat Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter. In the earliest days of the American filmindustry, New York was the epicenter of film-making. The Kaufman Astoria Studios inQueens, built during the silent film era, was used by the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields.Chelsea, Manhattan was also frequently used. Mary Pickford, an Academy Award winningactress, shot some of her early films in this area.Rise of HollywoodIn early 1910, director D.W. Griffith was sent by the Biograph Company to the west coast withhis acting. They started filming on a vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles. This place wascalled "Hollywood". Griffith then filmed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood. In 1913 manymovie-makers headed west to avoid the fees imposed by Thomas Edison, who ownedpatents on the movie-making process. In Los Angeles, California, the studios and Hollywoodgrew. Before World War I, movies were made in several U.S. cities, but filmmakers gravitatedto southern California as the industry developed. They were attracted by the mild climate andreliable sunlight, which made it possible to film movies outdoors year-round, and by the variedscenery that was available. There are several starting points for American cinema, but it wasGriffiths Birth of a Nation that pioneered the filming vocabulary that still dominates celluloid tothis day.At motion pictures height of popularity in the mid-1940s, the studios were cranking out a totalof about 400 movies a year, seen by an audience of 90 million Americans per week.Sound also became widely used in Hollywood in the late 1920s, after The Jazz Singer wassuccessfully released as a talkie in 1927. In 1922, US politician Will H. Hays left politics andformed the movie studio boss organization known as the Motion Pictures Distributors 3
  4. 4. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryAssociation of America (MPDAA); the organization became the Motion Picture Association ofAmerica after Hays retired in 1945.Golden Age of HollywoodDuring the so-called ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’, which lasted from the end of the silent era inAmerican cinema in the late 1920s to the 1950s, movies were issued from the Hollywoodstudios like the cars rolling off Henry Fords assembly lines; the start of the Golden Age wasarguably when The Jazz Singer was released in 1927 and increased box-office profits forfilms as sound was introduced to feature films. Most Hollywood pictures adhered closely to aformula—Western, slapstick comedy, musical, animated cartoon, biopic (biographical picture)—and the same creative teams often worked on films made by the same studio. After TheJazz Singer was released in 1927, Warner Bros. gained huge success and was able toacquire their own string of movie theatres; MGM had also owned a string of theatres sinceforming in 1924, know through Loews Theatres, and the Fox film Corporation owned the FoxTheatre strings as well. RKO also bought its own theatres. Paramount, bought a number oftheatres in the late 1920s as well.It was possible to guess which studio made which film, largely because of the actors whoappeared in it; MGM, for example, claimed it had contracted "more stars than there are inheaven." Each studio had its own style and characteristic touches which made it possible toknow this - a trait that does not exist today. Yet each movie was a little different, and, unlikethe craftsmen who made cars, many of the people who made movies were artists.Movie-making was still a business, however, and motion picture companies made money byoperating under the studio system. The major studios kept thousands of people on salary—actors, producers, directors, writers, stunt men, craftpersons, and technicians. And theyowned hundreds of theatres in cities and towns across the nation, theatres that showed theirfilms and that were always in need of fresh material. In 1930, MPDDA President Will Haysalso founded the Hays (Production) Code, which followed censorship guidelines and wentinto effect after government threats of censorship expanded by 1930. However the code wasnever enforced until 1934, after the new Catholic Church organization The Legion ofDecency- appalled by Mae Wests very successful sexual appearances in She Done HimWrong and Im No Angel - threatened a boycott of motion pictures if it didnt go into effect, andthose that didnt obtain a seal of approval from the Production Code Administration had to paya $25,000.00 fine and could not profit in the theatres, as the MPDDA owned every theatre inthe country through the Big Five studios. Throughout the 1930s, as well as most of the goldenage, MGM dominated the film screen and had the top stars in Hollywood, and was alsocredited for creating the Hollywood star system altogether; stars included "King of Hollywood"Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, andGene Kelly.Decline of the studio systemThe studio system and the Golden Age of Hollywood succumbed to two forces in the late1940s: • a federal action that separated the production of films from their exhibition; and • Changing leisure patterns and social activity, notably the advent of television and exodus of families from the cities into the suburbs.The Supreme Court eventually ruled that the major studios ownership of theatres and filmdistribution (vertical integration) was a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act."Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire withany other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among theseveral States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony.” Detail from the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890As a result, the studios began to release actors and technical staff from their contracts withthe studios. This changed the nature of film making by the major Hollywood studios, as eachcould have an entirely different cast and creative team. This resulted in the gradual loss of thecharacteristics which made MGM, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, RKO, and Fox filmsimmediately identifiable.Also, the number of movies being produced annually dropped as the average budget soared,marking a major change in strategy for the industry. Studios now aimed to produce 4
  5. 5. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industryentertainment that could not be offered by television: spectacular, larger-than-life productions.Studios also began to sell portions of their theatrical film libraries to other companies to sell totelevision. By 1949, all major film studios had given up ownership of their theatres.Television and HollywoodTelevision was also instrumental in the decline of Hollywoods Golden Age as it broke themovie industrys position in American entertainment. Despite this, the film industry was alsoable to gain some leverage for future films as long time government censorship faded in the1950s. After the Paramount anti-trust case ended, Hollywood movie studios no longer ownedtheatres, and thus made it so foreign films could be released in American theatres withoutcensorship. By 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had replaced theHays Code-which was now greatly violated after the government threat of censorship thatjustified the origin of the code had ended- with the film rating system.The MPAAThe Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) formed in 1922. Originally the MotionPicture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) (pre - 1942 and 1946 - 1948), it is anon-profit business and trade association based in the United States, which was formed toadvance the business interests of movie studios.MPAA members include the major Hollywood studios: o The Walt Disney Company; o Sony Pictures; o Paramount Pictures (Viacom); o 20th Century Fox (News Corporation); o Universal Studios (NBC Universal); o Warner Bros (Time Warner).The MPAA administers the voluntary film rating system. As part of its campaign to stopcopyright infringement the MPAA is fighting to stop the sharing of copyrighted works via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. The MPAAs anti-piracy campaign has gained much publicityand criticism.The New Hollywood and Post-classical cinemaPost-classical cinema is a term used to describe the changing methods of storytelling in theNew Hollywood. It has been argued that new approaches to drama and characterizationplayed upon audience expectations acquired in the classical period: chronology may bescrambled, storylines may feature "twist endings", and lines between the antagonist andprotagonist may be blurred. The roots of post-classical storytelling may be seen in film noir, inRebel Without a Cause (1955), and in Hitchcocks storyline-shattering Psycho.New Hollywood is a term used to describe the emergence of a new generation of film school-trained directors who had absorbed the techniques developed in Europe in the 1960s; The1967 film Bonnie and Clyde marked the beginning of American cinema rebounding as well, asa new generation of films would afterwards gain success at the box offices as well.Filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Brian de Palma, Martin Scorsese,William Friedkin and Steven Spielberg came to produce fare that paid homage to the historyof film, and developed upon existing genres and techniques. In the early 1970s, their filmswere often both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. While the early NewHollywood films like Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider had been relatively low-budget affairswith amoral heroes and increased sexuality and violence, the enormous success enjoyed byCoppola, Spielberg and Lucas with The Godfather, Jaws, and Star Wars, respectively helpedto give rise to the modern "blockbuster", and induced studios to focus ever more heavily ontrying to produce enormous hits.The increasing indulgence of these young directors didn’t help. Often, they’d go overschedule, and over budget, thus bankrupting themselves or the studio.Suburban exodusWhile suburbs had originated far earlier; the suburban population in North America explodedafter World War II. Returning veterans wishing to start a settled life moved en masse to thesuburbs. Levittown developed as a major prototype of mass-produced housing. At the sametime, African Americans were rapidly moving north for better jobs and educationalopportunities than were available to them in the segregated South. Their arrival in Northern 5
  6. 6. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industrycities en masse – in addition to race riots in several large cities such as Detroit, Chicago, andPhiladelphia – further stimulated white suburban migration.In the U.S., 1950 was the first year that more people lived in suburbs than elsewhere. In theU.S, the development of the skyscraper and the sharp inflation of downtown real estate pricesalso led to downtowns being more fully dedicated to businesses, thus pushing residentsoutside the city centre. For the Hollywood film industry, this led to the cinemas of NorthAmerica failing into decline as many were in city centres and not the suburbs. This would beaddressed later with the rise of suburban ‘multiplex’ cinemas. • Summarise the rise and subsequent demise of the ‘golden age’ of Hollywood by selecting six significant events 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.The Studio SystemThe studio system was a means of film production and distribution dominantin Hollywood from the early 1920s through the early 1950s. The term studiosystem refers to the practice of large motion picture studios • producing movies primarily on their own filmmaking lots with creative personnel under often long-term contract and • Pursuing vertical integration through ownership or effective control of distributors and movie theatres, guaranteeing additional sales of films through manipulative booking techniques.This business model is also known as vertical integration which meantownership and control of production, distribution and exhibition.One of the techniques used to support the studio system was block booking, asystem of selling multiple films to a theatre as a unit. Such a unit—five filmswas the standard practice for most of the 1940s—typically included only oneparticularly attractive film, the rest a mix of A-budget pictures of dubiousquality and B moviesA 1948 Supreme Court ruling against those distribution and exhibitionpractices hastened the end of the studio system. In 1954, the last of theoperational links between a major production studio and theatres chain wasbroken and the era of the studio system was officially over. The periodstretching from the introduction of sound to the court ruling and the beginningof the studio break-ups, 1930–1950, is commonly known as the Golden Ageof Hollywood.During the Golden Age, eight companies comprised the so-called majorstudios that promulgated the Hollywood studio system. Of these eight, fivewere fully integrated conglomerates, combining ownership of a production 6
  7. 7. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industrystudio, distribution division, and substantial theatre chain, and contracting withperformers and filmmaking personnelThe Big Five: • Fox (later 20th Century-Fox), • Loew’s Incorporated (owner of Americas largest theater circuit and parent company to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: MGM), • Paramount Pictures, • RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum), • Warner Bros.Two majors—Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures—were similarlyorganized, though they never owned more than small theatre circuits. Theeighth of the Golden Age majors, United Artists, owned a few theatres andhad access to two production facilities owned by members of its controllingpartnership group, but it functioned primarily as a backer-distributor, loaningmoney to independent producers and releasing their films. • Who benefits and who loses out during this period of the studio system? Explain why.RKO went out of business in 1955: a victim of the rise of TV in America.Warner on the other hand has gone from strength to strength. In 1989 theymerged with Turner Broadcasting and then with internet giant AOL in 2000.The are now one of the largest entertainment conglomerates. 20th CenturyFox are a similar example and are currently owned by News Corp., again oneof the worlds largest media companies. • Look over News Corporations media ownership. What are the implications for film marketing? Should we have any concerns? 7
  8. 8. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industry 8
  9. 9. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryThe New Hollywood systemIn contemporary Hollywood there is what is known as a ‘package unit’ systemat work: • Studio space is rented and personnel hired for the duration of the one project. • Individual producers now have to put together a one-off package of finance, personnel, equipment and studio time for each film being made. • The studios no longer have to be concerned with keeping busy what was effectively a factory-full of workers permanently on their payroll; instead arrangements can be made to film each one-off movie wherever is most convenient around the world, perhaps in places where union laws might be less stringent and rates of pay considerably lower. The main Hollywood companies were driven over to this system in an effort to cut expenditure in the 1950’s in order to survive the decline of cinema-going as a leisure activity. Actors and directors • In ‘old Hollywood’ they were under strict contracts with studios • They worked on one film until it was finished and then ‘assigned’ another. • In the ‘new Hollywood’ they have agents to cut deals for them. • Some directors and actors have arguably more power than the studios • Can you think of any examples of directors and stars in Hollywood today that could be described as ‘powerful figures’? What evidence is there of their power? What is their relationship with the audience? 9
  10. 10. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryProducers • In the face of industry decline in the 1950’s, studios became more flexible towards independent producers enabling them to pick and choose projects. • Look at a recent film and find out: o Who produced it? o What other films have they produced or been involved in? o What kind of films do they seem to favour? Genre? Budget?Budgets‘Old Hollywood’ offered two kinds of movies: A-movies (big budget) and B-movies (low budget). These would often be shown as a ‘double-bill’ incinemas, the logic being that the B-movies offered good percentage profits interms of box office and as such act as a ‘buffer’ for the more expensive andtherefore more risky A-movie. • Watch two trailers from this period, one A-movie and one B-movie. Can you tell the difference? Are they presented in a different way?Using the trailer analysis, what would you say the modern equivalent of the B-movie is? Are they still popular? How are they marketed? Provide examples. 10
  11. 11. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryStars in the New Hollywood • Clive Owen is a British Actor but has established himself as a Hollywood actor. What is so typical about him as a star? Does he meet our expectations of a ‘star’? Looking at the marketing for some of his recent films (above) has he become typecast? What does he bring to Hollywood films that perhaps American actors don’t? 11
  12. 12. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryDistributionIt can be argued that film distribution is the most powerful part of the filmindustry. Even a badly made film can be made ‘desirable’ through massmarketing and targeting certain audiences and demographics. Film exhibitionis only the end result of film distribution: who will want to see a film they knownothing about? In Britain at any one time more than 90% of screens areshowing American films. • Look over the top ten movies currently on release. Who distributed them? Which distributor is the most successful?Independent production companies and HollywoodMany film makers in Hollywood have been able to set up their own productioncompanies. Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino for example have both set uptheir own production companies. Significantly however, independentcompanies still rely on the major Hollywood studios to distribute their films.The main distributors are: Paramount Warners (Time-Warner-AOL) Universal (Matsushita) 20th Century Fox (News Corporation) Disney & Columbia Pictures (Sony)Hollywood and new technologiesThroughout the 20th Century, the film industry has faced a number of threats,most notably from television. What did could cinema offer though that TVcould not? • How did it compete with video, DVD and ‘home cinema’? 12
  13. 13. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryAs we have discussed, large media conglomerates now own many major filmstudios resulting in a form of business called synergy.Synergy:Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquiredsubsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhancedcombined effect. • In terms of the Hollywood film industry, what does this mean?Film as a commercial productIf you look at any DVD case you own, you will notice that a studio, forexample Universal or Warner’s, owns the material on the DVD. Warningscome before the movie starts reminding you that you cannot hold publicshowings, copy the material, lend to others etc. Of cause many of us do thisor may have doe in the past but this is in breach of the law. This then raisesthe question of what we really ‘own’ when we buy a DVD. • What other forms can movies take aside from VHS and DVD? What are the benefits to the studios? Are there any downsides for the studios? 13
  14. 14. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryCorporate support for Blu-rayBlu-ray Disc gained a large amount of support in the corporate world, withcompanies such as Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Panasonicsupporting it.Blu-ray Disc was first developed by Sony Corporation in 2002 as a nextgeneration data and video storage format alternative to DVD.In a recent interview with GameSpot, Sir Howard Stringer CEO of Sony hadthis to say: "Its an expensive way of showing Universal discs. The threebiggest box-office winners of this year were, in order: Sony, Disney, and Fox.Those are the three Blu-ray players. When you consider that those threesuccessful studios will be delivering last years successful box office in homevideo this year, then thats an enormous advantage. The fourth is Warner, andthey release in both formats, so it doesnt hurt. If you are going to be buyingdiscs, you are going to be buying an awful lot of Blu-ray discs going forward—if you want Pirates of the Caribbean or James Bond or Da Vinci Code orSpider-Man. Universal is the only one with HD DVD. I dont feel terriblyintimidated." In 2008, Warner Brother’s said that they would only releasemovies in Blu-ray format. This was instrumental in ending HD DVD part in the‘format war’.Sony’s Playstation 3 comes with an integrated Blu-rayplayer making it a valuable tool in getting Blu-ray playersinto living rooms across the world in the guise of a gamesconsole. The convergent nature of the machine gives Sonya financial advantage by using the PS3 as a platform topromote its library of movie titles. • Look over the Powerpoint presentation on Blu-ray and discuss the implications for the film industry. 14
  15. 15. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryAdaptability of the film industryPerhaps the key to understanding the success of Hollywood over the past 100years is to recognise the way in which it has always demonstrated anincredible ability to adapt to changing business circumstances. At heart themainstream American film industry has recognised that what it is offering thepublic is a product, and that its success depends upon adapting that productto a constantly changing market. Hollywood has continually managed to findways to embrace new technologies.On the Waterfront (1954), an early film staring Marlon Brando, was madeduring the period when the American film industry was facing perhaps itsmajor challenge. It needed to reorganise itself in the face of competition fromthe then stunning new technology of TV. Studios were beginning to useindependent producers; they would finance a one-off project for one of theseproducers and then distribute the resulting films. This meant that they nolonger had the ongoing week-in, week-out expense of staffing and runningproduction facilities. The package of business arrangements (cast and crew tobe signed up and paid for a given period, clearance for filming at variouslocations to be obtained, studio space to be booked for filming on set, editingfacilities to be lined up) necessary to complete the On the Waterfront projectwas organised by independent producer Sam Spiegel, who then released thefinished product through Columbia. It was a relatively low-budget movie beingmade for just $800,000 on a tight 35 day shoot but it grossed $9.5 million atthe box-office when it was first released. • Research The Full Monty (1997). Which production companies were involved? Who distributed the movie? What was the budget? How much did this movie make? 15
  16. 16. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryIn the face of continued competition from TV and changing leisure patterns,the industry continued to lose ground during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In theMid 1970’s all this changed however with the release of Star Wars (1977)which took more than $46 million during its first week.This was achieved by coming up with a strong initial concept, marketing thefilm at the same moment to more cinemas than was usual at the time. Thefilm became the first to gross more than $400 million at the US box office andeffectively changed marketing practices and release strategies for theindustry. What is the appeal of this film from the marketing alone? What does it offer to it audience? 16
  17. 17. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryThe main thing to take on board is the fact that despite difficult times, ingeneral Hollywood has been able to continually reinvent itself by seeing filmas a creative product that has to respond to a changing marketplace and takeadvantage of new opportunities offered by new technologies. At each momentin its history when the industry has faced the need to reorganise in the face ofnew competition, the effort has always been to reorganise in as effective away as possible in order to continue to make money. • What current problems might the industry be seeing right now? How might it overcome them? Is there any evidence of them doing this?Pirate-sharing films throttle HollywoodThe film studios are powerless against a new breed of piratesharing films online even before they are releasedThe Sunday Times, January 25, 2009Matthew Bingham and Alex PellFancy watching the latest Hollywood film in the comfort of your own home tonight, free ofcharge? The Wrestler, perhaps, or Slumdog Millionaire — or even Revolutionary Road, theKate Winslet drama due out on Friday.All you need is a home computer and an internet link.Illegal downloading of films started as a trickle with the arrival of broadband but has suddenlyturned into a flood.About 6% of the 15m or more consumer broadband users in Britain freely admit todownloading illegally posted films at least once a month. A Hollywood blockbuster film istypically downloaded 2m-3m times worldwide in the month of its official release, according toEnvisional, a Cambridge-based internet monitoring firm that acts for several Hollywoodstudios. Illegally posted films even have a top 100 chart on The Pirate Bay, a website thatoffers links to pirated films.The reasons for the sudden surge are intriguing. The first is that technology for downloadinghas become better and cheaper — computers with vast storage capacity and drives that willburn DVDs; high-speed internet connections. Equally to blame, though, is a band ofdedicated and fearless internet pirates who get their hands on copies of films, sometimeseven before they are in cinemas, and make them available through filesharing websites.These uploaders even brand the pirated titles with their signatures as a mark of quality andproof of their audacity.The films they post on the web are not the grainy versions filmed in cinemas with shakycamcorders and marred by the occasional member of the audience walking in front of thecamera, but can be DVD-quality versions, sometimes even in high definition, the new crystal-clear format. 17
  18. 18. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryThe film industry says that the growth of these sites is a threat to its very existence — piracyof all forms is estimated to have cost the film industry £486m in the UK in 2007, the mostrecent figure available. The practice deprives writers, artists and producers of a fair reward fortheir work. In December a group of more than 100 of Britain’s best-known producers,directors and writers, including Sir Alan Parker, Kenneth Branagh, Richard Curtis andStephen Daldry, wrote to The Times demanding action — but there seems little theauthorities can do about it. Like home taping in the 1980s, which caught on with the arrival ofthe compact cassette recorder and survived attempts by the music industry to stop it(remember the “home taping is killing music” campaign?), film downloading has defied effortsby the industry to stamp it out.“We are aware of the increasing seriousness of the problem and are giving it a high priority,”says Eddy Leviten of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact), which represents theaudiovisual industry on copyright matters. “Shutting down servers and services can be acomplex business, not helped by the cross-border nature of the internet.”So who are the pirates and why do they go to such lengths to upload films? Over the pastthree years, a character calling himself aXXo — assuming it is a man — has built a reputationas the best in the business by consistently posting good-quality copies of the latest films(often before their official release), carefully compressed so that they fit neatly onto singleCDs. In a recent survey, one in three movies shared online was attributed to him.Little is known about aXXo but a recent interview did appear on a blog about filesharing. Heremained tight-lipped about how he obtained his material but did explain why he had illegallyposted at least 1,000 films online in the past three years. “If I see a great film,” he said, “Ibelieve everyone has the right to be entertained by it.”This hippie ideal seems to be at the core of the pirating community. Britain’s leading uploaderis KingBen666, who runs a website where filesharers post music, video and software andswap tips. When we contacted him he declined to speak but did refer us to another of thesite’s uploaders, known as Geno. Aged 19 and based in the Midlands, Geno was willing totalk about his motives.“I don’t make any money and I don’t condone profiting from this kind of thing,” Geno said.“The keyword is ‘sharing’. I do it for people who don’t always have the means to pay fullprices. Compared to all the money the film industry makes, what we do is a drop in theocean.”He was scornful of the anti-copying security used by the business. “It seems no matter howmuch companies are willing to spend on protection, clever and talented people out there aregoing to be able to defeat it,” he said.Downloading films via these sites couldn’t be easier, though it is illegal to possess copies ordistribute them (see panel). To demonstrate, and with the knowledge of Fact, we went tofilesharing sites featuring five of the films that won this year’s Golden Globes awards: TheWrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (the latest Woody Allen), The Readerand Revolutionary Road. We also downloaded a couple of recent action films, Quantum ofSolace, the most recent Bond film, and Iron Man.Once the right free software had been installed from the internet, it was simply a matter ofclicking on the film and choosing where on the computer to store it. Because the files arelarge — 700MB is typical — they can take hours to download. Once the film is on the 18
  19. 19. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industrycomputer, it can be burnt to a DVD or streamed wirelessly to a TV via a video-receiver gadgetsuch as a PS3 or Xbox. The picture quality is limited mainly by the size of file you download— even the lowest-quality films were almost as good as a Freeview digital broadcast.The fact that all the films were of such high quality raises the question of where they camefrom. The filesharers we spoke to refused to elaborate but on the versions of The Wrestlerand Slumdog Millionaire that we downloaded a clue was visible in the form of a caption thatflashed up on the screen at the start. It read: “Property of Fox. May not be copied, transferredor sold.”Many pirated films, it seems, are leaked by disgruntled film studio employees and DVDfactory workers. More often, though, the films have been pirated from pre-release DVDsdistributed by the studios themselves.Contrary to popular belief, the red-carpet film premiere is not the first time most people in theindustry see a movie. Studios routinely send out so-called screeners to critics, awards judgesand others well in advance of a film’s official release, and these screener discs often maketheir way online.Unfortunately, then, the studios, in their eagerness to impress the cognoscenti before a filmopens, may be unwittingly aiding the pirates. Perhaps they need to step up their security. Ifthey don’t, and attempts to enforce the law do not improve, things could soon be a whole lotworse.A new breed of pirate site streams blockbusters to ordinary web browsers — no fancysoftware or waiting for downloads. At the moment, watching a streamed film is a patchyexperience with frequent interruptions. Soon, though, as connection speeds grow faster,seeing a pirated film will be as instant and easy as turning on the TV, and that could mean anunhappy ending for the motion picture industry. • Read through the article above and answer the following questions 1. How many people freely admit to downloading movies illegally each month? 2. How many times is a typical Hollywood movie downloaded in the month of its release? 3. Why has there been a sudden ‘surge’ of downloading? 4. How much did it cost the film industry in the UK in 2007? 5. Explain what the process of ‘sharing’ means in the pirating community. 6. What can be done with the film once a file has been downloaded? 19
  20. 20. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industry 7. What conclusions can be drawn about the future of the film industry if this continues? Try to provide positive and negative outcomes. • Bring in a DVD cover that you find interesting or eye-catching o How does it attract attention? o What words or names are used? Why? How prominent are they and why? Discuss fonts used and colour. o What image has been chosen? What meaning do you think we are supposed to take away from this? Can you break the image down into component parts and discuss them separately? • Analyse some film trailers and answer the following questions: o Which studio made the film? What expectations do we have? o What expectations does it fulfil? • Go out I small groups with a camera and take as many pictures as you can find of film marketing.The process of making a filmThe three key components of making a film are: • PRODUCTION (make it) • DISTRIBUTION (advertise it) • EXHIBITION (show it)In the grand scale of the ‘global’ film industry and Hollywood’s multi milliondollar budgets, it is easy to lose sight of this simple process and acknowledgethat these three elements are all equally important. • Imagine you are making a film here in school. How would you go about addressing each of these stages? 20
  21. 21. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryPRODUCTIONThere are three phases to the production 1. Pre-production: idea development, script writing, funds are raised, contracts are signed 2. Production (the ‘shoot’): images and sound are recorded on film or using digital technologies. 3. Post-production: images and sounds are edited together.After the film has been competed, some important questions need to beanswered. • Congratulations! A large Hollywood distributor has now snapped up the school film we discussed earlier. Lets discuss our options with advantages and disadvantages: o In what countries is it to be shown? o Should there be a global release date? o Should some countries receive the film before others? o Which cinema chains should be used? o How should this initial release be built upon in order to maximise the potential audience? How quickly should we move on to a DVD release? o How long should it be before it is shown on satellite, cable and terrestrial? 21
  22. 22. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film IndustryDistributionThis involves making sure a release pattern is put into place that will enablethe product to reach the widest and largest audience possible. Of course, filmdistributors may be small firms specialising in certain types of film ormultinational corporations with global networks of offices, and the productthey deal with and markets they focus on will vary enormously. However thedistributor essentially: • Acquires the rights to the film • Decides the number of prints to be made and released to exhibitors • Negotiates a release date for the prints • Arranges the delivery of prints to cinemas • Provides trailers and publicity material for exhibitors • Puts together a package of advertising and publicity to promote the film • Negotiates related promotional and/or merchandising deals.Marketing and advertisingThis may be seen as three distinct areas: advertising, publicity andpromotional deals worked out with other companies. Within an overallmarketing budget possibilities within each of these areas will be considered interms of the likely return on ticket sales weighed against cost. The big plus infavour of publicity is that it is essentially free. Consider the BBC’s Friday Nightwith Jonathan Ross show which regularly features Hollywood actorspromoting their new film. In turn, this is of course welcomed by the TVcompany as the appeal of a Hollywood star will bring in audiences.Advertising on the other hand has to be paid for and popular newspapers andmagazines will be costly, hence the reason why only big budget movies reachthe larger publications. The same applies to ad breaks in TV shows.Trailers are a traditional way of advertising upcoming movies. This though hasseen changes with some movies building anticipation with a series of trailerssometimes months before the release date. ‘Teasers’ may just feature a fewseconds of footage. Posters can be used in a similar way, some avoiding thetitle in favour of an iconic image associated with a franchise or an abstractimage. These ‘teasers’ will later become the ‘main poster’ to coincide with therelease date. A third poster featuring critics (favourable) responses may alsobe used.PromotionsSpecial concessionary deals may be offered to sectors of the public believedmost likely to be interested in the film being promoted; competitionsconnected to the film may be set up in magazines or newspapers, or on foodpackaging likely to be picked up by the target audience.; and merchandiserelated to the film in some way may be given away or offered at special rates.In each case the effort is to raise awareness of the forthcoming film amongpotential consumers within the target audience. 22
  23. 23. AS Film Studies: FM2 British & American Film The Hollywood Film Industry • Choose one fo the following films: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Bridesmaids, The Hangover 2. Identify the target demographic and what other interests they might have. o What concessionary deals might appeal to this audience? o What competitions might help to promote this film to its target audience? o How would you use merchandising to promote this film?ExhibitionCinema exhibition has always tended to be controlled by a relatively smallnumber of companies, and often the major studios responsible for makingfilms will have considerable stakes in some of these companies that are notresponsible for showing their products. If small independent exhibitors want toscreen less well-known films they need to know their local film-going marketwell, since they will be working without the back-up of the major marketingcampaigns that accompany big studio productions.But of course exhibition no longer refers simply to showing films at thecinema. We can now see films on terrestrial TV, satellite and cable (includingpay-per-view), on video, DVD or Blu-ray, high definition home cinema set-ups,via the internet and download services, even mobile phones and i-Pods.Essay questions o To what extent are Hollywood films simply ‘products’ made to make a profit? o How important is marketing in influencing people to watch films both at the cinema and on DVD? o How are billboard posters and poster-style advertisements in newspapers and magazines used to create audiences for films? 23