Hollywood Studio System: A History

Hollywood Studio System: A History

by Douglas Gomery
     
 

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Despite being one of the biggest industries in the world, the "dream factory" that is Hollywood is little understood outside the business. The Hollywood Studio System fills that gap. It is the first book to describe and analyze the complete development, operation, and reinvention of the global corporate entities that produce and distribute most of the

Overview

Despite being one of the biggest industries in the world, the "dream factory" that is Hollywood is little understood outside the business. The Hollywood Studio System fills that gap. It is the first book to describe and analyze the complete development, operation, and reinvention of the global corporate entities that produce and distribute most of the films we watch.

Starting in 1920, Adolph Zukor, head of Paramount Pictures, helped to fashion Hollywood into a vertically integrated system, a set of economic innovations that was firmly in place by 1930. For the next three decades, the movie industry operated according to these principles. Cultural, social, and economic changes ensured the demise of this system after WWII. Beginning in 1962, Lew Wasserman of Universal Studios emerged as the key innovator in creating a second studio system. Gomery relates the history of these two systems using primary materials from a score of archives across the United States as well as a close reading of both the business and trade press of the time. A number of previously unpublished photos illuminate the narrative.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gomery, who teaches communications at the University of Maryland, has produced a detailed textbook on the economics of the Hollywood studio system which will no doubt become required reading at every film school. The eight major corporations which dominated the ``golden age''1930 through 1949are examined in terms of management style, financial stability, labor and production, distribution and exhibition. Balance sheets for each are provided to substantiate Gomery's conclusion that the profit motive dictated all artistic decisions. Competitors had difficulty breaking into the charmed corporate circle of MGM, Warner Bros., Paramount et al.; any illusions about Hollywood autonomy are swiftly dispelled by a description of the financial clout centered in New York City's brokerage houses. For those interested in a comprehensive view of the megabucks industry, this is a solid grounding in the business side of a glamorous, ephemeral workplace. Photos. January 6
Library Journal
In what reads somewhat like a doctoral dissertation, Gomery presents a history of the business side of the Hollywood studio system, with particular emphasis on the system's halcyon years, 1930-49. There are chapters on each of the major studios. Gomery frequently emphasizes his points that most money in the picture business was made in distribution and exhibition, not production; and most power resided with the studios' corporate headquarters in New York City, not in the Hollywood film factories. Unfortunately, he seems unaware of Robert Stanley's The Celluloid Empire (LJ 5/15/78), which covers the same topic more readably and with a broader focus, though with somewhat less detail. This book does have some information not included in the Stanley book and will be useful in special collections. John Smothers, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Freehold, N.J.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844570645
Publisher:
BFI Publishing
Publication date:
09/06/2005
Pages:
340
Sales rank:
905,669
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 10.89(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Gomery is Resident Scholar at the Library of American Broadcasting and Film at the University of Maryland.

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