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Chapter 12: The Movie Industry

by: Deja Jackson

Chapter 12: The Movie Industry Comm 130

Marketplace > University of Pennsylvania > Communication > Comm 130 > Chapter 12 The Movie Industry
Deja Jackson

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Class and lecture notes
Mass Media and Society
Joseph Turow
Class Notes
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Deja Jackson on Saturday April 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Comm 130 at University of Pennsylvania taught by Joseph Turow in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 38 views. For similar materials see Mass Media and Society in Communication at University of Pennsylvania.

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Date Created: 04/30/16
Chapter 12: The Movie Industry 04/28/2016 ▯ The History and Rise of Motion Pictures ▯ 1878: Edward Muybridge, Zoopraxiscope— captures motion using multiple cameras taking multiple photos and putting them together ▯ 1889: Edison creates Kinetoscope— took multiple photos with one camera; helped develop projector ▯ 1891: Eastman creates first film strip… eventually led to Kodak ▯ 1895: Lumiére brothers patent a combo movie camera and projector; charged people to watch projected film ▯ Armat-Jenkins projector ▯ 1908: Edison company encourages Motion Picture Patents Company ▯ 1920s: Major Hollywood production and distribution firms also own large theater chains and develop the “studio system” ▯ 1923: Kodak Motion Picture Film ▯ 1927: The Jazz Singer— revolutionized moviemaking by integrating sound ▯ 1920-40s: Silent Films and Charlie Chaplin ▯ 1950s: 90% of Americans own a television set ▯ 1971: VCR is introduced ▯ 1970s-90s: Spread of cable television; international multi-media conglomerates ▯ **Product placement reflected what’s happening in the show and society  telegram – often associated with death and war (mostly because of MGM)  incorporated better ideas of the telegram in movies (Western Union, Love Laughs at Andy Hardy)  associated telegrams with love ▯ ▯ The 5 Old Majors Majors (1)Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, (2)Warner Bros., (3)Columbia, (4)Twentieth Century Fox, (5)Universal: Used two broad methods for controlling competition and creating movies efficiently  Vertical integration: the control of production, distribution and exhibition  The “studio system”— involved the star system, A and B movie units o Star system: an operation designed to find and cultivate actors under long-term contracts, with the intention of developing those actors into famous “stars” who would enhance the profitability of the studio’s film. o 1948 Consent Decree took a shot at the studio system ruling that studios cannot own their own movie theater chains and had to get rid of block booking: when movie distributors force exhibitors to book blocks of their films by making them buy multiple of them at one time) o A films: expensively made productions featuring glamorous, highly paid stars o B films: lower-budget films that were made quickly; where studios made most of the money (Andy Hardy); carried the big studios and A films ▯ ▯ The Modern Movie Industry ▯ Theatrical films: created to be shown in traditional movie theaters  Box office receipts have increased since 2002: the sum of money taken in for admission at movie theaters  Ages 12-24 year olds make up 35% of frequent moviegoers  Industry executives pay most attention to Blockbusters: films that bring in more than $200 million at the U.S. box office; tend to bring in a high percentage of the money theatrical films make as a whole at the box office  Moviegoing has been encouraged by multiplexes (8-15 screen movie theater) and megaplexes (16+ screen movie theater) ▯ ▯ Production in the Movie Industry ▯ The Current Majors: six most powerful companies in Hollywood due to their distribution power; (1)Warner Bros., (2)Twentieth Century Fox, (3)Disney, (4)Sony Pictures/Columbia, (5)Paramount, (6)Universal  Considered distributors rather than producers ▯ Distinguishing between Production and Distribution  Firm production firms: companies involved in coming up with story ideas, finding scriptwriters, hiring the personnel needed to make the movie, and making sure the work is carried out on time and on budget  Firm distribution firms: companies responsible for finding the theaters in which to show the movies around the world and for promoting the films to the public o Often contribute money to toward the production firms’ costs of making the film o Ex: “a Paramount release: does not mean that the company’s studio fully financed and produced the movie; most films that it deals with as a distributor come from separate production firms ▯ Independent Producers: production firms that are not owned by a distributor  Majors do not produce all the movies they distribute because in order for a distribution firm to maintain a strong relationship with theaters, it has to provide a strong roster of films to help fill theater seats  Most majors only produce 5-10 films itself, then picks up the rest from independent producers ▯ The Movie Making Process  Getting the Idea o Can come from virtually anywhere, most popularly from TV shows, comics, toys, short stories, and newspaper articles o Scriptwriters: individuals who create plays for the movies, with scenes and dialogue; plot ideas often come to production firms via writers’ talent agents o Talent agents: represent various creative personnel and aim to link them with production firms in exchange for a percentage of the creators’ revenue from the finished product; gains reputation around Hollywood and know what has been popular o The idea is pitched to a producer; pitch: initial presentation of a movie idea o If the producer likes the idea, the writer is paid to write a treatment: detailed outline of an initial pitch to executives of a production or distribution firm; if green lighted (approved), they will probably order a script to be written  Less established writers may write on spec: writing a script without a contract to do so, with the hope that when the script is passed along, it will be bid for and purchased  Getting the Talent o Executives typically have certain actors and directors in mind o Sometimes production firms will make a deal with a famous actor or director in which they take a lower base salary but get a percentage of the money that the production firm receives from the distributor (back-end deal or percentage of the gross) o Rules about actors’ minimum pay and working conditions have been established through deals between major production firms and the Screen Actors guild  Guilds: unions established by writers, directors, actors and other crew members to protect their mutual interests and maintain standards; provide less highly paid workers with a collective voice which sometimes results in strike (2007 Writers Guild members’ strike)  Getting the Money o Often the hardest part of making a motion picture o Most expensive movies tend to be megahits o Story is chosen and developed to fit the budget that the firm can manage o Genre films (movies that fit classic storytelling formulas like scifi or horror) are relatively inexpensive to make and its successes can make up for films that bring the production firm little return o Once the film and its budget are approved, both the production and distribution divisions provide the money; The distribution division is the one that has to work to make the money back through a percentage of box office receipts o Independent films have a harder time getting money; often has to use its own funds or borrow from the bank; some get long-term deals with majors like Disney and Pixar  Sell distribution rights (the rights to circulate a particular movie in different parts of the world) to get money for film projects  Actually Making the Movie o Casting directors help the director choose many of the actors o Set designers, production designers, costumer designers, makeup experts, and computer graphics personnel help create the physical shape of the space in which the actors work o Stand ins and stunt people o Editor decides which versions of different scenes should end up in it o Line producer: the individual who makes sure the equipment and personnel are there when they are needed o Completion bond companies: insurance companies that, for a large fee, pay any costs that exceed an agreed-upon amount for a film; sometimes required by moneylenders worried about spiraling costs ▯ Distribution in the Movie Industry ▯ Releasing Movies ▯ Once a distributor has set its slate of movies and they’re almost complete, they challenge is to set a release date (date on which the film will open in theaters) and pattern, by taking into account the kind of film it is, how popular its actors are, its target audience, and the other films on their slate  Typically schedule the release of potential blockbusters during the summer or between Thanksgiving and Christmas  More recently day-and-date releases (a simultaneous release dare for a movie in different countries) have become more popular; discourages pirates from distributing the film illegally online and allows more efficient promotion of the movie across the world at the same time** ▯ Release Patterns  Wide release: the opening of a film in more than 600 theaters simultaneously, usually accompanied by a large publicity campaign to incite people to see the film; most common release pattern in the U.S. o Saturation release: the initial release of a film in more than 2,000 theaters simultaneously  Platform release: the initial release of the movie in far fewer theaters in a relatively small number of areas with the plan to release the film in more theaters as the film garners positive publicity and discussion  Exclusive releases: the release of a film to only a handful of carefully selected theaters around the country; not set up with the intentions of “going wide”; usually specialty or foreign films ▯ Marketing Movies ▯ To reduce risk of failure, distributors often conduct two types of research before a film is released  Title testing: conducting interviews with filmgoers in shopping malls and other public places to determine the most alluring name for an upcoming picture  Previewing: takes place after a film is completed but before it is formally released; viewers see a rough cut (preliminary) version of the movie ▯ Publicity: the process of creating and maintaining favorable “buzz” about a movie among its target audiences  May take place in the form of lavish cast parties, interviews with the film’s actors on TV programs and previews on YouTube and Facebook  Word of mouth (the discussions that people see the movie have with their friends in person and on social media) usually determines whether more people will go to see it ▯ Tracking studies: research on the public’s awareness of and interest in a film, beginning two weeks before the film’s release and continuing through the film’s first month of release  National Research Group surveys random samples of Americans by phone three times during each of those weeks  Marketing usually costs around half of the films negative cost: the total cost of making and editing the movie ▯ ▯ Exhibition in the Movie Industry ▯ The largest 3% of movie chains control 60% of the screens on which the films are shown Relationship between Distributors and Theater Chains  Chains with the largest numbers of screens are Regal, AMC, Cinemark, Carmike, Cineplex Entertainment, and Rave.  A theater chain often has booking divisions in different areas of the U.S., depending on where it concentrates its screens; each division has a number of bookers: people who license movies from distributors for theaters o E.g. Movie distributors inform the bookers months in advance of what films they intend to release and when; booker makes an estimate of how well they believe the film will do at the box office compared to others  Movie distributor has an interest in getting the movie into theaters that fit its sense of audience interest in the film o E.g. executives may try to place a movie aimed at African American moviegoers in areas where many African Americans live ▯ Financial Agreements between Distributors and Theater Chains  Distributors and exhibition executives negotiate an exhibition license: specifies the date on which the distributor will make the film available to the exhibition firm’s theaters, the number of weeks the theaters agree to run the film, and when and where competing theaters can show the same film; sets the financial agreements between the two regarding the distributor’s expenditure on a film and the exhibitor’s need to cover its costs to make a profit  Common for the distributor to take a certain percentage of the ticket revenues from the film, with the exhibitor keeping the rest  Percentage-above-the-nut approach: an agreement in which the executives of the exhibition firm agree on the costs of operating each theater (“the nut”), then film by film, the distributor and exhibition firm negotiate what percentage of revenues “above the nut” the exhibition firm will pay to the distribution firm o In the end, distributors usually get back about half the box office receipts ▯ Convergence, Nontheatrical Distribution, & Exhibition ▯ Non theatrical windows/platforms are crucial when it comes to deriving profits from motion pictures, such as through circulating movies through television outlets, broadcast networks, local stations and cable television, VCR/DVD  Sell-through outlets: stores in which consumer buy the videos rather than just renting them (Target, Walmart)  Rental outlets: companies that purchase releases from movie distributors and then rent them to individual customers on a pay-per-day basis (Blockbuster)  Recently, the rental business has seen the growth of subscription services like Netflix, Redbox ▯ The Shift to Digital Marketing  Exhibition outlets like Fandango or Moviefone use short movie segments to start conversations among visitors about the film and whether or not someone should go; a double-edged sword  Hope that people will share and repost videos and that this will get target audiences engaged in and excited by the release  Video games represent another growth area for digital segments of theatrical films ▯ The Shift to Online and Mobile Downloads  Sales and rentals of movie DVDs and cassettes have plummeted due to new technology and online/mobile downloads  Key challenge— keeping post-theatrical sales high; movie industry must convince people to pay more for its products because digital downloads are often less expensive ▯ Piracy Problems ▯ Film piracy: the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted films for profit; threaten the profits of the movie industry  Often found on data lockers: a website that rents secure password- protected areas to store files ▯ MPAA has sued for copyright infringement and are trying to crack down, but it is so difficult to keep track of ▯ ▯ Media Ethics ▯ The Narrowing of Cultural Diversity ▯ Critics of the mainstream movie industry argue that movie execs are sending a narrow range of stories into American homes and theaters  Many contemporary Hollywood films are made using formulas of sex and violence, exposing it to 14-24 year olds  Exhibitors work against cultural diversity; few theaters in the U.S. show art films: movies created on small budgets that often do not fit into Hollywood stereotypes and standard genres  Hollywood movies are keeping Americans isolated from important aspects of world culture ▯ Cultural Colonialism ▯ Strong criticism lodges against industry as it represents a leading edge of American cultural colonialism (the process by which in the media content of a dominating society surrounds people of another society with values and beliefs that are not those of their own society; tend to support the interests of the dominating society)  American-based companies are harming other cultures by drowning out the presentation of local and cultural experiences in the media with Hollywood-based formulas ▯ Cultural colonialism helps American business by creating markets for their consumer goods and erodes local cultures because they can’t compete with U.S. marketing glitz


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