answer 4 pages of questions

film and american culture studies

Queens University

Question Description

Please do the reading and answer the four questions. You may write one page of each questions. PLEASE USE THE SIMPLE LANGUAGE!! THANKS

Here is the questions :

1.Blockbuster film - why was it important in 70s and 80s - what films were key - Sklar and Schatz - what do it do, at least two characteristics of, how it reshaped the film industry

2.Independent filmmaking - Sklar, Perren - different versions of - characteristics of indie films - when they emerged (Late 60s, early 70s, new hollywood), Bonnie and Clyde, the 90s -Sex lies and Videotape - how it adapted to indie blockbusters - what did it do the film industry in the 90s

3. What is synergy - why is it central to the film industry - how does it related to the way studios are structured now - talk about conglomerate Hollywood - why are family films suited to synergy

4. Think something your own idea. - What “Hollywood’ mean? How to define? How they adapt to challenge? (You can be positive or negative) self-reservation

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TCHC01 6/22/07 02:16 PM Page 11 PART I THE STRUCTURE OF THE INDUSTRY TCHC01 6/22/07 02:16 PM Page 12 TCHC01 6/22/07 02:16 PM Page 13 CHAPTER 1 THE STUDIO SYSTEM AND CONGLOMERATE HOLLYWOOD TOM SCHATZ Introduction In August 1995 Neal Gabler, an astute Hollywood observer, wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times entitled “Revenge of the Studio System” in response to recent events that, in his view, signaled an industry-wide transformation (Gabler 1995). The previous year had seen the Seagram buyout of MCA-Universal, Time Warner’s purchase of the massive Turner Broadcasting System, and the launch of DreamWorks, the first new movie studio since the classical era. Then on August 1 came the bombshell that provoked Gabler’s editorial. Disney announced the acquisition of ABC and its parent conglomerate, Cap Cities, in a $19 billion deal – the secondlargest merger in US history, which created the world’s largest media company. Disney CEO Michael Eisner also disclosed a quarter-billion-dollar deal with Mike Ovitz of Hollywood’s top talent agency, Creative Artists, to leave CAA and run the Disney empire. For Gabler, the Disney deals confirmed “a fundamental shift in the balance of power in Hollywood – really the third revolution in the relationship between industry forces.” Revolution I occurred nearly a century before with the formation of the Hollywood studios and the creation of a “system” that enabled them to control the movie industry from the 1920s through the 1940s. Revolution II came with the postwar rise of television and the dismantling of the studio system by the courts, which allowed a new breed of talent brokers, “most notably Lew Wasserman of the Music Corporation of America [MCA],” to usurp control of the film industry. In the early 1960s, MCA dissolved its talent agency and purchased Universal Pictures, creating a precursor of sorts to the modern media conglomerate. MCA-Universal spearheaded an industry-wide recovery in the 1970s and 1980s, spurred by the deft integration of its film and television divisions and by a new breed of blockbuster films. Leading stars and independent filmmakers still enjoyed unprecedented power and freedom, and so the studios had to share their power with top talent and their agents – most notably the powerhouse agencies like William Morris and Ovitz’s CAA, which not only represented talent, but actively “packaged” many of Hollywood’s biggest films. TCHC01 6/22/07 14 02:16 PM Page 14 TOM SCHATZ By the 1990s, however, the combined forces of media deregulation, globalization, and new digital technologies were tipping the balance of power back to the studios, thus auguring Revolution III. Disney and the other studios “may have finally found the holy grail,” wrote Gabler. “By combining movies, broadcast television, video, foreign video, foreign television, merchandizing, theme parks, soundtrack albums, books and heaven knows what else, Mr. Eisner has devised a new form of vertical integration that takes virtually all of the risk out of movie software.” This meant huge paydays for top talent in the short term, but the long-term prognosis for both filmmaking talent and films themselves was bleak. “When risk is vanquished, when even awful movies can be profitable, the stars lose their leverage,” opined Gabler, and he closed with a bold assessment of Ovitz’s jump to Disney: “The agencies and their clients are no longer the 800-pound gorillas. The studios are back in power. Why else would the greatest agent of them all defect to the enemy?” In the years that followed, it became obvious that Gabler got it only half-right. There had been a significant power shift in Hollywood, and the Powers That Be were indeed devising new modes of vertical (and horizontal) integration to minimize risk and maximize profits. But the power scarcely resided with the studios of old. The new rulers of Hollywood – and of the global entertainment industry at large – were not the studios but their parent companies, the media giants like Viacom (owner of Paramount Pictures), Sony (Columbia), Time Warner (Warner Bros.), and News Corp. (20th Century Fox), which controlled not only the movie industry but the US television industry as well. Disney, the one studio that had not merged with or been swallowed by a media giant, had in fact become one. “Disney isn’t as much a company as it is a nation-state,” said Ovitz of his new employer, in an apt analogy that applied to all of the new global media powers (Bart, 1996). This tectonic shift in the structure and economics of Hollywood actually began a decade earlier when News Corp. bought 20th Century Fox and launched the Fox Broadcasting network. That created a paradigm for the global media giants to come, as the burgeoning New Hollywood steadily morphed into Conglomerate Hollywood, and as the studios’ role in the industry drastically changed. The studios were vital to their parent companies’ media empires, of course, since Hollywood-produced blockbusters have been the driving force in the global entertainment industry. But the movie studios, along with the conglomerates’ “indie film” divisions, television and cable networks, and myriad other holdings, have become players a game they no longer control. The Rise and Fall of the Classical Hollywood Studio System To understand and assess the state of the studio system in contemporary Hollywood, we need to trace its earlier development, along with the complex evolution of the studios themselves and their singular product, the feature-length motion picture. During the classical era, from the 1920s through the 1940s, the “studio system” referred both to a factory-based mode of film production and also, crucially, to the vertical TCHC01 6/22/07 02:16 PM Page 15 THE STUDIO SYSTEM 15 integration of production, distribution, and exhibition. The studio system coalesced in the 1910s and early 1920s via expansion, merger, and acquisition, and by the 1930s the film industry had evolved into what economists term a “mature oligopoly” – that is, an industry effectively controlled by a cartel of companies (Balio, 1976/1985; Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson, 1986; Gomery, 1986; Finler, 1988; Schatz, 1988). Control of the movie industry was exercised by the so-called Big Eight studios, whose filmmaking factories in Hollywood fed their nationwide distribution operations. The most powerful of these firms were the fully integrated Big Five studios – MGM, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and RKO – which not only produced and distributed films but operated their own theater chains as well. Meanwhile, the Little Three “major minor” studios – Universal, Columbia, and United Artists (UA) – produced and distributed top feature films but did not own their own theaters. Universal and Columbia were full-fledged movie factories but produced fewer A-class features because they lacked the financial leverage and filmmaking resources of the Big Five. UA was an anomaly among the studios in that it simply provided financing and distribution to top independent producers like Sam Goldwyn and David Selznick. The 1930s also saw the emergence of several “poverty row” B-movie mills like Monogram and Republic, which were incidental to the studio system since they did not produce A-class features and did not distribute their own films. The studio system flourished during the Depression and World War II, two national crises that induced the government to sanction (or at least tolerate) the studios’ monopolistic control of the film industry. This enabled the studios to maintain their factory operations as well as a “contract system” that kept filmmaking talent at all levels, from top stars to stagehands, directly tied to the company. Studio management was a classic top-down affair, with the primary power emanating from the home office in New York, which controlled distribution and exhibition (i.e., sales), and passing on to the studio on the West Coast, whose top executives supervised the overall operation of the plant while a corps of supervisors (eventually dubbed “producers”) oversaw the production of individual films. The mainstay of the studio system was the A-class feature film, invariably a formulaic “star vehicle” with solid production values and a virtually guaranteed market. The studios also turned out occasional big-budget “prestige pictures” as well as a steady supply of low-cost B-movie fare that comprised up to half their output in the 1930s, which totaled roughly 50 pictures per week and was sold in entire “blocks” to the nation’s exhibitors. But it was A-class star-genre films that drove the entire studios system as it reached full maturity during the 1930s and Hollywood entered its legendary Golden Age. Moreover, these star-genre cycles were the basis for each studio’s distinctive “house style,” which was fundamentally geared to its internal resources, its stables of contract talent, and its overall market strategy. The 1940s proved to be a watershed era for Hollywood, with an unprecedented boom due to war-related social and economic conditions early in the decade, followed by a drastic industry decline and an abrupt end to the studios’ long-standing TCHC01 6/22/07 16 02:16 PM Page 16 TOM SCHATZ hegemony. The war boom peaked in 1946, the studios’ best year ever in terms of revenues and profits, but by 1947–8 the industry was in a veritable free-fall due to a succession of devastating blows. Foremost among these was the Supreme Court’s 1948 Paramount decree, an antitrust ruling that resulted from persistent legal challenges by independent exhibitors, which forced the Big Five studios to sell their theater chains and prohibited the collusive trade practices that were crucial to the studios’ control of the motion-picture marketplace. Another was the rapid growth of television, which was propelled by sustained economic prosperity and wholesale changes in postwar American lifestyles – most notably suburban migration and the so-called baby boom. In the span of a decade, “watching TV” replaced “going to the movies” as America’s dominant form of habituated, mass-mediated narrative entertainment. The studios responded – and ultimately survived – by fundamentally changing the way they made movies and did business, thus establishing a modus operandi that still prevails today. Adopting and modifying the UA model, the studios concentrated on financing and distribution rather than production. Lacking the financial resources and contract talent to mass-produce movies for a declining market they no longer controlled, the studios now relied on independent producers to supply “packaged” projects that the studios would “green light” for production, putting up some portion of the budget in exchange for the distribution rights, and often leasing out their production facilities as well. This meant ceding creative control to independent producers and freelance directors, and also to top stars whose “marquee value” gave them tremendous leverage and frequently a share of the profits. This also gave considerable power to the leading talent agencies like William Morris and MCA, with the latter becoming particularly adept at setting up independent companies for its clients. The studios still generated their own films, but they produced fewer, “bigger” pictures – biblical epics and wide-screen Westerns during the 1950s, for instance – which made more sense economically and laid the groundwork for the blockbuster mentality that now prevails. The Television Era and the New American Cinema By the mid-1950s all of the studios had weathered the postwar storm except RKO, which was bought by Howard Hughes in 1948 and subsequently mismanaged and dismantled. RKO was essentially defunct by 1957, when the lot itself was purchased by Desilu, the independent television production powerhouse owned by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball (of I Love Lucy fame), two former RKO contract players. The rise of Desilu had considerable impact on the Hollywood studio system, in that it pioneered “telefilm” series production based on the West Coast, providing a model of sorts for the studios’ profitable pursuit of TV series production. The surviving major studios – MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Fox – actively resisted telefilm production until 1954–5, when both Columbia (via its Screen Gems subsidiary) and Disney (via its hugely successful “Disneyland” series) had hit series TCHC01 6/22/07 02:16 PM Page 17 THE STUDIO SYSTEM 17 on prime-time network television. RKO also began selling its old films to TV syndication companies in 1955, providing further impetus for the majors’ reconciliation with the upstart industry. In 1955–6 the major studios finally acquiesced, as they began reissuing older films for syndication and, even more importantly, moved headlong into telefilm series production. By 1960 the center of television production in the US had shifted from New York to Hollywood and the studios were turning out far more hours of TV series programming than feature films, having reactivated their B-movie operations to feed TV’s voracious appetite for programming. In 1960 the networks also started running Hollywood movies during prime time, which added enormous value to the studios’ “libraries” of theatrically released films (Schatz, 1990; Anderson, 1994; Hilmes, 1999). Despite their growing rapport with the TV industry, the studios struggled during the 1960s due mainly to the continued erosion of the mainstream audience and the over-production of big-budget epics and musicals (in an effort to retain that audience), resulting in a decade-long run of spectacular hits and misses. 20th Century Fox, for instance, careened from financial desperation with Cleopatra (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1963, US) to monumental success with The Sound of Music (Robert Wise, 1965, US), then saw costly failures like Doctor Dolittle (Richard Fleischer, 1967, US), Star! (Robert Wise, 1968, US), Hello, Dolly! (Gene Kelly, 1969, US), and Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, 1970, US) generate net losses of over $100 million in 1969–70, driving the company to the brink of bankruptcy (Finler, 1988: 100). The 1960s also saw an unprecedented surge in film imports and international co-productions, a trend that had been growing throughout the postwar era, and one which threatened the studios’ control of the marketplace as well as their narrative and stylistic traditions. These imports ranged from high-cost prestige pictures and art films to low-budget exploitation films, many of them co-financed, co-produced, or simply released by one of the studios. UA was by far the most aggressive and successful in pursuing such deals, which included prestige films like Tom FIGURE 1.1 Cleopatra (1963), an expensive failure for Fox. Produced by Walter Wanger; distributed by 20th Century Fox; directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz TCHC01 6/22/07 18 02:16 PM Page 18 TOM SCHATZ Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963, UK), the Beatles-starring A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964, UK) and Help! (Lester, 1965, UK), the enormously successful James Bond cycle, and the Sergio Leone-directed “spaghetti Westerns” starring Clint Eastwood (Balio, 1987). During the late 1960s Hollywood began generating an art cinema of its own, spurred by the wave of imports, the demise of the Production Code in 1966–7, and the coming of age of the postwar “baby boom” generation – not only as a distinctive (and distinctly counter-cultural) moviegoing market, but a new generation of filmmaking talent and studio executives as well. Propelled by the success of Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967, US) and The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967, US), and aptly termed the New American Cinema by critics and historians, the late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rapid emergence of a director-driven, youth-oriented, art-cinema movement that defied the conventions of classical Hollywood narrative, subverted its genre traditions, and openly challenged that studio-controlled mode of production. All of the studios supported the movement, mainly due to the reliability of the youth market, with Paramount, Columbia, and Warner Bros. taking the most aggressive tack. Paramount’s releases included Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968, US), Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970, US), and The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972, US). Columbia’s included Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969, US), Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970, US), and The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971, US). Warner Bros., under the leadership of John Calley, was the most significant contributor to the New American Cinema, producing Bonnie and Clyde and Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968, US), The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969, US), Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 1970, US), A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971, UK), Dirty Harry (Don Seigel, 1971, US), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971, US), Klute (Alan Pakula, 1971, US), Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972, US), Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973, US), Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973, US), and The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973, US). This Hollywood new wave proved to be a decidedly mixed blessing for the studios, however, since these films enjoyed the allegiance of the youth market and the adulation of critics but rarely enjoyed cross-over success with mainstream moviegoers and tended to be unsuitable for network television. While the New American Cinema was geared to a new generation of filmmakers and moviegoers, the industry at large underwent significant changes due to a new breed of studio owner. In the course of the 1960s, five of the seven Hollywood studios – Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., UA, and MGM – changed ownership in a merger-and-acquisition wave unlike any since the formation of the studio system a half-century earlier. Spurred mainly by the studios’ depressed stock value, this wave was quite distinctive in that all of these were straight buyouts (acquisitions, not mergers), and four of the five purchasing companies had no experience of – and little interest in – media entertainment. The only studio acquisition involving a media-savvy buyer was the first of the five buyouts: the 1962 purchase of Universal Pictures and parent company Decca Records by MCA, Hollywood’s top talent agency and also its leading television program supplier through its TCHC01 6/22/07 02:16 PM Page 19 THE STUDIO SYSTEM 19 Revue division. When it bought Universal, MCA dissolved its talent agency (at the insistence of the Justice Department) to concentrate on film and television production, distribution, and syndication. MCA-Universal weathered the industry’s 1960s downturn thanks to its successful integration of film and television production, which included the launch of the made-for-TV movie format in a historic pact with NBC, and its continued dominance in telefilm series production (Thompson, 1960; Bruck, 2003). While the MCA–Universal union was a model of “synergy” – i.e., the coordination of its various media divisions – the other 1960s buyouts involved studio acquisitions by large non-media conglomerates: Paramount by Gulf + Western in 1966; UA by Transamerica in 1967; Warner Bros. by Seven Arts in 1967 and then by Kinney Corporation in 1969; and MGM by Las Vegas mega-developer Kirk Kerkorian in 1969. The Paramount, UA, and Warner Bros. deals involved diversified, deeppocketed parent companies that enabled the studios to continue operations despite the industry-wide recession. Kerkorian, however, was a financier and real-estate tycoon interested in MGM for its brand name and its library, and with no inclination to underwrite its failing movie pr ...
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Final Answer



Film and American Culture Studies
Institutional Affiliation




Question 1: Blockbuster film - why was it important in 70s and 80s - what films were key Sklar and Schatz - what do it do, at least two characteristics of, how it reshaped the film
Blockbuster films of 1970s and 80s dominated in an excessively creativity free era before
the current spectacular market demands currently experienced. Blockbuster films were the
pioneers of currently recognized major studios: Sony, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros; Walt
Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Universal Pictures. Invention of Blockbuster Video
impacted significantly independent of cinema. Of these cinema independence include evolution
of porn industry (Schatz, 1997). In the 70s to 90s there was a rise in multiplex which showcased
different movies in different screens thus increasing revenue collection. With this evolution,
Blockbuster resulted in diminishing of live theaters, porn theaters and grindhouses since people
could now watch their favorite movies at their homes. Cable television and home video added
streaming revenues to studios for films broadcasted in their shows. Videocassette and video
camcorders also opened doors to pre-internet manifestation of movie pirates who hawked them
in streets.
One of the movie that had a significant impact was Jaws released in 1975 by Steven
Spielberg. This movie can be described as first born of New Hollywood era. This movie was the
second film featured by Steven Spielberg. The movie provided a modern blockbuster prototype
through high cost, speed, entertainment machine concept having a nationwide record booking of
over 400 theaters. This was the first movie to have over $200 million gross income and over
$100 million rental receipt returns. Through multiple sequels, aggressive licensing, theatrical
release and merchandising campaign, Jaws enjoyed huge success giving a rise to myriad tie-ins,
video games and theme park rides. Star Wars released in 1977 featuring Lucas was the other



movie that challenged Jaws as top all time Hollywood movie. The movie incorporated hip-ironic
genre containing male actors with open reiteration, serialization and licensing. These movies
were however affected by disagreement in revenue sharing that affected Blockbuster financial
gain negatively.
Question 2: Independent filmmaking - Sklar, Perren - different versions of - characteristics
of indie films - when they emerged (Late 60s, early 70s, new hollywood), Bonnie and Clyde,
the 90s -Sex lies and Videotape - how it adapted to indie blockbusters - what did it do the
film industry in the 90s
The concept of film festival started fully in 60s and 70s. In 1960s, independent cinemas
were characterized by campy films accompanied by blood horrors which were mostly acted in
avant-gardes and drive-ins (Schatz, 1997). These movies were perfected by shaky cameras,
unattractive areas and amateur actors. By 1970s, independent films had many non-mainstream
subjects that featured African American audiences and lower class whites. In addition, the films
started featuring gay lives and stories. The independent films filled a gap left by Hollywood
movies that left out young people audiences through production of films that targeted the youths
more through incorporation of monster and science fiction films (Sklar, 1994). These movies
required little finances to set and run.
During this time, people who l...

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