Scott, A ~ A New Map of Hollywood

“This new Hollywood emerged slowly and painfully out of the profound restructuring of the old studios that occurred from the 1950s to the 1970s, and that finally resulted not only in a new business model but also in a new aesthetics of popular cinema.”
“The basic argument set forth by these two authors revolves around the transformation of the classical vertically-integrated studio system of Hollywood into the much more vertically-disintegrated production complex that it has become today.”

“The Paramount decision forced the majors to divest themselves of their extensive theatre (cinema) chains (see CASSADY, 1958), and television drained off the audiences that had previously flocked to motion-picture theatres. The net effect, according to Christopherson and Storper, was a dramatic rise in competitiveness, uncertainty and instability in the motion-picture industry, followed by the break-up of studio-based mass production, whose peculiar process and product configurations could no longer sustain profitable operations. Instead, the system was succeeded by a new order in which the majors divested themselves of much of their former productive capacity and contractual engagements, and became the nerve centres of vertically-disintegrated production networks.”

“This turn of events allowed the majors to cut their overheads, to pursue ever more diversified forms of production, and eventually to flourish in the new high-risk Hollywood”
“the majors continued to play important roles in Hollywood as centres of financing, deal-making and distribution.”
“the sources of the majors’ market power [… at least since the Second World War] have resided mainly in the internal economies of scale that characterize their distribution systems.”
“the globalization of Hollywood’s market range (BALIO, 1996) [and this phenomenon actually] appears – for the moment at least – to be reinforcing the centripetal locational attraction of Southern California for motion-picture production activities of all kinds.”

“its technical and organizational configuration was marked by quite high levels of scale and a degree of routinization, but nothing equivalent, say, to the typical Detroit automobile assembly plant churning out identical models by the thousands.”
“two other [main] organizational effects flowed from vertical disintegration in the motion-picture industry. The first was the transformation of the studios themselves into something closer to systems houses, i.e. large-scale (though comparatively downsized) establishments now focusing on the production of many fewer and increasingly grandiose films. […] The second was the emergence of masses of small independent production companies and service providers”

“The Hollywood production system today can hence be described in terms of a prevailing pattern of major and independent film production companies […], intertwined with ever-widening circles of direct and indirect input suppliers.”

The Hollywood majors - corporate ownership relations

“Another way in which the majors proceed is to work with smaller production companies, where the latter assume primary responsibility for organizing overall production tasks. The smaller companies involved in these ventures comprise both the majors’ own subsidiaries and selected independent producers in projects that may range anywhere from a niche-oriented film to a high-budget blockbuster. In these collaborative ventures, the majors work in a range of protocols, though in probably the majority of cases these grant significant control to the majors over production and editing decisions. Typical procedures include financing, production and distribution deals, co-production pacts, joint ventures, split rights agreements, ‘first look’ contracts, and any and all combinations of these arrangements.”

“Many independents also unilaterally assemble packages of scripts, actors, directors and other assets that they then present to the studios in the hope of securing a production or distribution agreement, though few are ever successful.”
“although the majors continue to dominate the entire industry, and continue to maintain a significant degree of in-house production capacity, they also rely more and more on smaller subsidiaries and independent production companies in order to spread their risks, to diversify their market offerings, and to sound out emerging market opportunities.”
“independent film production has increased greatly over the last two decades, with the period of most intense growth being the early to mid-1980s when a boom in independent film production occurred, fuelled by the growth of ancillary markets”
“The distribution of films made by independent producers is handled for the most part by independent distribution companies, many of them highly specialized with respect to market niche”

“perhaps the majority [–] of Hollywood independents rarely or never come into contact with a major, and work in an entirely separate sphere of commercial and creative activity.”

“the two tiers described above are actually complemented by a more indistinct circle of companies as represented by independents strongly allied to the majors together with the majors’ own subsidiaries.”

Schema of the Hollywood motion-picture production complex and its external spatial relations

“These four points all allude to important positive externalities underlying the Hollywood production complex, endowing it with strong competitive advantages in the form of increasing returns to scale and scope and positive agglomeration economies.”
“in spite of the centripetal locational pull of Hollywood, expanding streams of production activities have been moving to distant satellite locations since the 1980s.”
“Without effective distribution, the production system could attain neither the scale nor the scope that help to make it such a formidable source of competitive advantages today.”
“Most of the industry is clustered in a relatively small geographic area centred on Hollywood itself, but also spilling over into other parts of the region.”

“the industry not only continued to grow in absolute terms in Los Angeles over the 1980s and 1990s, but maintained its high level of relative geographic concentration as well.”
“Decentralization occurs for two main reasons, one being the search for realistic outdoor film locations (which has always been a feature of the industry’s operations), the other being the search for reduced production costs (which is a more recent phenomenon).”

‘Creative runaways’: “directed to Canada, Australia, Britain and Mexico, with Canada receiving 81% of the total.”

“In view of this analysis, we can obtain a clearer grasp of just why (relatively standardized) television films are more susceptible to runaway production than feature films.”
“pronouncements of AKSOY and ROBINS, 1992, p. 19, to the effect that: ‘Hollywood is now everywhere . . . production now moves almost at will to find its most ideal conditions, and with it go skills, technicians, and support services’, and of HOZIC, 2001, p. 153, who talks about ‘Hollywood’s exodus into worldwide locations’, are both exaggerated and premature.”
“Hollywood today is a large-scale, many-sided, cultural-production and franchising complex, disgorging an endless variety of products designed for many different market niches. The linchpin of the entire system is the high-concept, mass-appeal blockbuster, that is, a big-budget film with a simple but climactic central narrative, an uplifting finale, a major star presence and possessing many marketable assets”

“The distribution system disseminates the industry’s products on wider markets, pumps revenues and information back into Hollywood, and hence is a basic condition of the sustained economic well-being of the central agglomeration”
“Employment in the distribution branch of the business is densely developed in Los Angeles alongside the production activities that it serves.”
“Distribution is the segment of the industry where oligopoly is most in evidence.”
“the marketing and distribution costs of many blockbusters today are equal to or even greater than their actual production costs” (Cones, 1997)
“vertical integration has indeed been on the increase of late.”
“For independent distributors, the average domestic box-office per film is $2.3 million, and for majors it is $46.1 million.”

“the pioneering efforts of US firms have more or less naturalized American cinematic idioms on many foreign markets, making Hollywood films highly competitive with purely local products”
“block-booking by US-owned film distributors is prevalent in foreign markets, even though it is illegal in the US.”
“The MPAA is a highly-financed cartel representing the combined voice of the majors, and it has proven itself to be extraordinarily aggressive and successful in shaping trade agendas in audiovisual products, as well as in many other political tasks of concern to the industry.”
“the annual American Film Market in Santa Monica […] has grown over the last two decades to become the world’s largest motion-picture fair, attended by more than 7,000 people from 70 countries.”
“the majors are just as likely to dominate content supply in the new order as they have done in the old. More accurately, we should say that if, in theory, new electronic means of communications allow small producers to tap readily into global markets, the massive resources of the majors will still in all likelihood enable them to gain a decisive edge in publicity and marketing, and hence in sales.”

“in the late 1960s […] imports grew to the point where they represented fully two-thirds of all the films released in the US”
“Much more research, of course, is needed on particular aspects of Hollywood’s operations, including many questions about new digital technologies, creativity and innovation, local labour markets, the institutional fabric of the industry, agglomeration and decentralization processes, corporate organization, marketing, the dynamics of demand, and so on.”
“[A] steady convergence […] appears to be occurring between the economic and cultural in contemporary global capitalism”

About the author

Woitek Konzal

Producer, Consultant, Lecturer & Researcher. I love working where technology meets media in novel ways. Once, I even won an Emmy for digital innovation doing that. Be it for a small but exciting campaign about underground electronic music collectives or for a monster project combining two movies, various 360° videos, 72 ARG-like mini puzzles, and a Unity game, all wrapped up in one cross-platform app – I have proven my ability to adapt to what is required. This passion for novel technologies has regularly allowed me to cross paths with tech startups – an industry and philosophy I am all set to engage with more. I intensely enjoy balancing out my practical work with academic research, teaching, and consulting. Also, I have a PhD in Creative Industries, a M.Sc. in Business Administration, and love to kitesurf.

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