The Hollywood Trust: Trade Associations and the Rise of the Studio System

The Hollywood Trust: Trade Associations and the Rise of the Studio System

by Kia Afra


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As the film industry was establishing itself at the start of the twentieth century, trade associations played a pivotal role in the emergence of the studio system. These producer-distributor trade associations were forums for internal and external conflicts, as well as the true sources of influence and power in early Hollywood.

In The Hollywood Trust: Trade Associations and the Rise of the Studio System, Kia Afra provides a detailed account of three successive trade organizations from 1915 to 1928. By examining the Motion Picture Board of Trade, the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry (NAMPI), and the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), Afra outlines the relationships of power in Hollywood’s early years, asking questions such as: How and why did the studio system come about, and what were the industrial and institutional forces that impacted Hollywood’s development? In order to answer these crucial questions, The Hollywood Trust explores the role played by film industry trade associations in navigating important issues facing the burgeoning studio system, including censorship, public relations, trade practices, government regulation, film distribution, labor conflicts, taxes and tariffs, and exhibitor opposition.

A vital look at an under-reported aspect of the studio system, this volume fills a gap in the history of the American film industry. As such The Hollywood Trust will be of particular interest to scholars of film history, as well as those concerned with cultural history and the political economics of entertainment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442268289
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 06/15/2016
Series: Film and History Series
Pages: 318
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kia Afra has worked in the film and television industry as a director, editor, and sound recordist. Afra has taught film history at Brown University and Moorpark College and his articles have appeared in Film History, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Cinema Journal.

Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

List of Tables xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: From the MPPC to the MPPDA: How Competition and Collaboration Forged an Industry xv

Abbreviations xxv

1 Prelude to Association: Censorship, Antitrust, and the Industry's Public Relations Campaign in 1915 1

2 The Motion Picture Board of Trade: Consensus and Division within the Ranks (September 1915-June 1916) 33

3 NAMPI and the Prewar Period: (July 1916-March 1917) 53

4 NAMPI in Wartime: (April 1917-November 1918) 85

5 NAMPI in the Postwar Era: (December 1918-December 1920) 113

6 NAMPI's Decline: (January 1921-March 1922) 141

7 The MPPDA's Foundational Period: (March 1922-December 1924) 159

8 The MPPDA, Wall Street, and Theater Circuits: (1925-1926) 203

9 Testing the Limits of Expansion: The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission Confront Hollywood (1927-1928) 235

Conclusion: From the Edison Trust to the Hollywood Majors: Trade Organizations and Historiography 269

Bibliography 273

Index 285

About the Author 291

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