Movies are both art and commerce, creative expressions of national/ cultural interests and preoccupations and part of a global entertainment market. The past century has witnessed a transformation of the movies from popular novelties that had potentially pernicious implications for some religious authorities, political figures, and other opinion leaders into highly valued cultural icons and commodities that have promoted national identity and specific political agendas, while also affecting international trade, including balance of payments and trade deficits.
Historical studies of movie industries and film economics offer important insights into international film history. Economic factors interact with social, aesthetic, technological, and ideological/political developments to help explain significant changes that have occurred during the past one hundred or more years of cinema. For example, as film scholars Janet Staiger and Douglas Gomery pointed out over twenty years ago, the sharing of cinematic styles between Germany and France that accompanied a multinational economic development in the 1920s, called "Film Europe," illustrates that "economic analysis provides part of the explanation for international artistic influence ... [and] a solid understanding of the relation of economic theories to the writing of film history can contribute a step in the direction of a more rigorous, complex history of the filmic text."1 In short, examining economic developments in the international movie industry can improve our global understanding of film art and popular culture.
This collection of nineteen movie industry histories offers a revealing portrait of the international movie industry from 1895 to the present day. Each chapter focuses upon important economic as well as related social, aesthetic, technological, and/or ideological/political developments within a national cinema that achieved some degree of domestic and international importance. National and international dimensions of each movie industry's emergence and development are portrayed as interdependent, that is, as two sides of the