Film and Television
The Hollywood that emerged at the end of the 1980s, buoyed by a decade of record box-office receipts, mergers and diversification, was very different to the crisis-ridden industry which ended the 1970s. For Stephen Prince, the 1980s marked a watershed in the history of Hollywood that not only saw its corporate structures change, but also witnessed a fundamental shift in the very nature of Hollywood’s purpose: ‘Instead of making films, the industry shifted to the production of filmed entertainment, a quite different enterprise that encompassed production and distribution of entertainment in a variety of markets and media.’1 What Prince is emphasizing is the way that during the 1980s Hollywood began to take full advantage of film’s ancillary markets. While the licensing of film products had long been part of film production, it had never generated significant income. During the 1980s, diversification into video, video games, cable television, publishing and various forms of product merchandising provided increasingly important streams of revenue for the industry.
Before these new markets could be exploited, however, there were certain structural problems in Hollywood that needed to be corrected. Like other large industries in the 1970s, the major Hollywood studios and the larger organizations of which many were subsidiaries had become inefficient, vulnerable to rising inflation and lacked the kinds of integrated business focus needed to be successful in an increasingly competitive, global economy. Paramount Pictures, for example, was a subsidiary of the conglomerate Gulf and Western Industries Inc., whose portfolio of businesses stretched from the agricultural sector to manufacturing to car replacement parts and the leisure sector – where Paramount resided and which in 1980 accounted for 20 per cent of