Before Video: A History of the Non-Theatrical Film

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview
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NINE
The Waning Years

Videotape was on the brink of revolutionizing the non-theatrical field in the 1970s, but most in the industry seemed unaware of any potential change on the horizon. Hope Reports, which provided annual information on the financial status of the audiovisual industry, indicated no downward trend in industry's use of the medium. In 1973 alone, some $612 million was spent by American industry on the purchase of audiovisual materials and equipment. Educational production and distribution in the early 1970s continued to be dominated by Coronet and Encyclopaedia Britannica Films. There had been two new entrants in the field, Pyramid Films, founded in 1960 by David Adams, and Churchill Films, founded the following year by Robert (Bob) Churchill; to a large extent they were to lead the way in defining the new non-theatrical movement.

Pyramid Films was created originally to handle emergency medical films, but quickly it made a name for itself in the distribution of quality documentaries. Churchill handled social documentaries. Both companies understood that to survive they had to expand into the business and health film markets and would need actively to embrace video.

Lee Burdett, vice president of marketing for Encyclopaedia Britannica, opined that "the biggest changes in our business in the 1960s were the growth in competition caused by the many new companies and the growth in the marketplace caused by the regionalization and centralization of the buying agencies." 1 The quote typifies the attitudes of the

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