distribution, and the most extensive and prestigious theatre chain -- the very model of the integrated business through which Hollywood's power was asserted.
This Hollywood system crested in the heady days prior to the Great Depression. Hollywood as an industrial institution had come to dominate the world of popular entertainment as no institution had before. The coming of sound simply eliminated competition from the stage and vaudeville. But change was on its way, precipitated by the Depression and by the rise of the new technologies of radio and television. Hollywood at the end of the 1920s and throughout the 1930s was faced by a series of shocks -- falling audiences, the loss of some overseas markets, threats of censorship, and anti-monopoly legislation. But it adjusted and survived, thanks to the solid foundations laid by its pioneers.
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Bordwell, David, Staiger, Janet, and Thompson, Kristin ( 1985), The Classical Hollywood Cinema.
Gomery, Douglas ( 1986), The Hollywood Studio System.
-- ( 1992), Shared Pleasures.
Hampton, Benjamin B. ( 1931), A History of the Movies.
Jobs, Gertrude ( 1966), Motion Picture Empire.
Koszarski, Richard ( 1990), An Evening's Entertainment.
The world-wide spread of cinema has been dominated by the distribution and exhibition of Hollywood movies, despite the fact that film production has taken place around the world since the turn of the century. The first means of film production and projection were developed virtually simultaneously in France, Germany, and the United States in about 1895, with the earliest films typically comprising single shots of single scenes or incidents. Many of these early movies delighted audiences with their authentic rendering of snippets of 'reality', and French innovators Auguste and Louis Lumière seized upon the commercial possibilities inherent in the documentary capacities of the new medium. They trained a team of cameramen/projectionists to demonstrate their Cinématographe internationally, recording new footage as they went. By the end of July 1896 they had carried the invention to London, Vienna, Madrid, Belgrade, New York, St Petersburg, and Bucharest, creating widespread interest with their cinematic revelations of both the exotic and the familiar. By the end of the year they had been around the world, introducing the phenomenon of cinema to Egypt, India, Japan, and Australia. In the mean time Thomas Edison's projector, the Vitascope, was also popularizing the medium in the United States and Europe.
At the turn of the century motion picture production was essentially a cottage industry, accessible to any enthusiastic entrepreneur with a modicum of capital and know-how. The world's first feature film of over an hour's duration was made not in France or America but in Australia, where The Story of the Kelly Gang was produced in 1906, the theatrical company J. & N. Tait made the film without the benefit of any industrial infrastructure whatsoever. By 1912 Australia had produced thirty features, and feature-length productions had also been made in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary (with fourteen features in 1912 alone), Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, the United States, and Yugoslavia.
Despite the energy and commitment represented by this early flurry of film-making, singular achievements in the area of production were to prove less important than innovations in business organization in determining the shape of international film commerce. Again France was the first to seize the initiative in terms of foreign distribution. By 1908 the production company Pathé-Fèrres had established a network of offices to promote its products-mainly short dramas and comic scenarios -- in areas including western and eastern Europe, Russia, India, Singapore, and the United States itself. In fact, in 1908 Pathé was the largest single supplier of films for the American market. Films by other French companies, as well as British, Italian, and Danish productions, were also circulating internationally at this time. By contrast, relatively scant foreign business was conducted by American production houses. Although the American companies Vitagraph and Edison were represented in Europe, their agents were more interested in buying European films for circulation in America than in promoting their own products abroad.
If there was little early sign of America's future dominance in the foreign field, the streamlining of the American industry's business organization in its home market