Transcript of "Belton (14) Hollywood in the Age of Television"
Belton, Chapter 14
1929: 95 Million Movie Attendance (in millions)War Years: 851945-1948: 90 1001953: 46late-60s: below 20 501971: 15.8 02002: 30+
• Between 1948 and 1968 Hollywood lost three quarters of its audience• Traditional historians assume that the post war decline in motion picture attendance was related to television• In fact, television was a superficial symptom of a much more profound change in post war entertainment patterns
• Direct cause of downfall was the social and economic transformation of post-war Americans to the leisured masses• Passive entertainment vs. action• The house, the car• The drive in
• Response of motion picture industry was to make fewer, but more expensive films• Cinerama-three strips of film projected from three separate booths in the theater• 3-D Assault- 3-D movies pulled audiences into the action of the film
• 3-D craze wanes, but Cinerama suceeded• Fox perfected Henry Chreitens anamorphic lens for cinerama• Projection of wide screen films as well as stereo sound was meant to provide an experience dramatically superior to black and white television
• Cinerama used curtains for dramatic effect• Also used advertisements with audiences sharing in this "on screen spectacle• Todd-AO Process Began with Oklahoma and claimed movie goers could "live" the experience• Todd-AO was the first commercially successful wide film format and spawned many wide film processes
War with Television, Peace with its Revenues• Various films such as The Moon is Blue (1953) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) lampooned television commercials.• Sometimes things even got violent, one character kicking in a series of tv screens.• But Belton tells us that while on the silver screen, the rivalry seems obvious enough, the reality is that film is battling more with other, less two- dimensional leisure-time activities.
• The dollar sign ($) changes hearts and minds: in 1954, Disney and ABC partner up for a Disney show which promotes its theme park;• in 1955, General Teleradio sells its RKO library to a station;• Columbia, Warner Bros, Fox, M-G-M do the same with their pre-1948 films.• Sometimes the sales even saved the studio.• Around this time, many studios began to produce their own shows, airing more recent movies.
• Packaging the silver screen to fit the sad, curved 1950s TV tube took some not-so-subtle cropping, scanning, and panning.• Networks paid more and more for the rights to play films, in the 60s rising from $180k to $800k in ten years. Some very recent releases cost as much as $5 million.• Let s consider for a moment the artistic quandary caused by cropping. . . .
• Between 1985 to 2002 the VCR became a standard househould feature, 91% of households owned one.• But the DVD market, since their arrival in 1997 (that s really not very long ago, is it), has exploded.• DVD player sales: $320k in 1997 to $25 million in 2002• Available titles: 600 in 1997 to 20k in 2002• Percentage of households with DVD players: 35% by 2002• Comparison of revenues in 2002: – Theaters: $9.5 billion – DVD sales and rentals: $22 billion
• HBO in ‘75• Turner in ‘77• Showtime in ‘78• The Movie Channel in ‘79.• Now 2/3 US households have cable
• Second-run movie theaters gone.• Porno houses gone.• Repertory theaters gone.• With the ability to replicate (in decent fashion, at least) the widescreen, surround sound experience of the movies, why should people bother going?• The answer is . . .
• The heyday of widescreen blockbuster: mid-1950s to mid1960s.• War and Peace (1956), The Ten Commandments (1956), South Pacific (1958), Ben-Hur (1959), Spartacus (1960), Exodus (1960), Mutiny of the Bounty (1962), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Cleopatra (1963), and The Sound of Music (1965)• This pattern of infrequent moviegoing could only sustain the industry in an era of blockbusters —an era in which each film became a special even that drew the sometime spectator away from other leisure-time activities and back into the movie theater (Belton 322).
• Belton believes the viewer s expectations in the last three decades have narrowed, no longer drawn into the spectacle of films, such as those produced in the earlier panorama days.• The infrequent consumption of motion pictures has become automatic and habitual . . . (322)• But the new craze for special effects in the last decade has restored some of the wonder of the big screen movie-going experience.• Examples of spectacular digital effect films: Jurassic Park (1993), Titanic (1997), The Matrix (1999), Shrek (2001)
• What are some common themes and/or motifs in the 1950s-60s blockbusters? Why do you think these types of films were so popular?• What are some more recent examples of Hollywood blockbusters? Notice any trends?