This collection of case studies surveys the history of the American movie industry. Each chapter has been thoroughly researched by a recognized business, law, mass communications, or film scholar. The authors have carefully examined relevant business records, legal proceedings, government and industry statistics, and trade papers in an attempt to evidence their theses about important historical developments with primary as well as secondary source materials. Several studies explicitly cite relevant models and theories, which help to order and explain the causes and effects of important economic, legal, and social developments in American film industry history. In short, many of these case studies are seminal works in the field.
The anthology is organized both chronologically and topically. Parts One, Two, and Three basically follow the history of the film industry's marketing strategies, structural changes, and product innovations: from exhibition in Kinetoscope arcades to film "acts" in vaudeville, nickelodeons, small-time vaudeville, and movie palaces; from states' rights marketing schemes to block-booking and chain-store exhibition strategies; from a production and distribution monopoly based upon the pooling of major patents to an oligopoly among vertically integrated (production, distribution, and exhibition) firms; and from the rise of feature films, the star system, and the studio system to Hollywood's conversions to sound and color.
Parts IV through VI examine major topics, such as regulation and censorship, interaction with television, and America's role in the international film industry. These topics include several major historical developments: NRA policies which endorsed monopolization of the industry by major studios in the 1930s, the divorcement of production and distribution from exhibition and the rise of television in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and Hollywood's involvement with television and foreign film industries ( Canada and the Common Market in particular) in the 1960s and 1970s.