Hollywood-The American Film Industry

The Entertainment industry is surrounded by few film industries, namely, Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and British film industry. The largest markets by box office are the United States, China, and Japan; and the countries with the largest number of film productions are India, Nigeria and the United States. But my bedrock of research will be the leading and American film industry-Hollywood.

Nollywood-The cinema of Nigeria

Nollywood-The cinema of Nigeria

Posters of Bollywood movies

Posters of Bollywood movies

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood was a minuscule community in 1870 and was incorporated as a municipality in 1903. It officially merged with the city of Los Angeles in 1910, and soon thereafter a prominent film industry began to emerge, eventually becoming the most dominant and recognized in the world.
Sooner than the studios had control over actors, managing their publicity, what roles they got and how they lived. They organized around vertical integration, which led to block booking if cinemas wanted the main feature had to book other films from the studio. But this was soon banned. Gradually actors and directors get much more freedom (can make A class feature roles alongside independent films and can command huge fees).However vertical integration is back and studios produce fewer films. But moved towards High Concept filmmaking, which is organized around a simple narrative, moving from one spectacular set piece to another and rarely appears as a single entity.
For ninety years, an oligopoly of Hollywood studios comprising Universal, Paramount, M.G.M, United Artists, Fox, Columbia, Warner Brothers, R.K.O. and Walt Disney, known collectively as ‘the Majors‘ have dominated world cinema.

Big Studios

                                   Big Studios

Production Practices of Hollywood

Production is either a product itself or the actual process of filming between pre and post production. To make a big budget Hollywood film is far more complicated and involved. Five stages are involved in making a movie. The first is perhaps the most fascinating and often takes the longest: The Development Stage

Stage One Development:

At this stage a concept is built which is unique and enough to entertain the audience. Writing the screenplay and developing a script takes a serious writing commitment and sometimes collaborations. Creative decisions are made during the script writing time and can be further made if it receives the honor of being turned into a movie.

Pre Production Movie Stage:

This is the point where absolutely everything from creating the movie gets planned and envisioned-step by step, page by page and line by line-in tedious painstaking detail. Determining shooting locations and the process of casting the characters takes place. Costumes, props and equipment are collected and gathered and crew is hired starting with at least one producer and good directors. Many producers can be required in making a movie, each with their own specialized area. They are the ones initiating, coordinating, supervising and controlling things like fundraising, hiring key personnel, and arranging for locations and distributors,etc. One of the most important tools in pre-production is Storyboard creation which is frequently brushed off by beginning movie makers. Now the script is in hand, and just like a cake all the ingredients are gathered to be baked in production-stage 3



Production-Stage 3:

The various scenes of a movie are not shot in chronological order, they are shot in whatever order which make sense for getting the most out of every moment of time. Lots of the crew is engaged during the production stage, and for each location. They work in pre-scheduled, staggered timelines to get the sets ready that is why stage crews, electric crews, sound and lighting crews, etc. are usually the one to arrive first and leave in the end. Actor and actresses have separate timings for coming on the set and their prep time is spent in makeup, wardrobe, and rehearsals with director and sometimes in training of scenes. If good movie production leaders and members are involved in making a movie-they create magic in every scene of the movie, which is attractive for the audience. But even after months and weeks last scene is shot, this is not the end, we have a long process waiting, Post Production that is the last stage of production.

Post Production-Stage Four

Post production is the final point in which editors make raw motion images into a story, adding sound, music, special effects-arranging them into one striking piece of art. It includes image compositing, sound editing, mixing and design-such as adding ambience, Walla (indistinguishable sounds of people talking in the background), and Foley (footsteps and the rustling of clothes to make a scene seem real); composing and recording the score; adding special effects; stock footage; adding voice over narratives and titles etc. When all is said and done the final movie production is broken down onto usually two reels-then ideally sent off to a film festival. At this time the movie is done and preparations for promoting the film begins.

Editing room

Editing room

Modern Digital Editing Suite

Modern Digital Editing Suite

How visual effects in Hollywood evolved?

Visual effects technology has become so advanced over the last few decades that it is becoming common for moviegoers to expect high quality work from big-budgeted films. It was only 1975 when Steven Spielberg was using a malfunctioning mechanical shark to film Jaws and today’s directors can use programs to animate photorealistic settings and characters to fulfill their wildest dreams (for better or worse). Similarly Willis O’Brien (Special effects designer) had pioneered the concept of stop motion animation for the 1925 film The Lost World, but the movie that truly put the technique on the map was the original 1933 version of King Kong.

Willis O'Brien working on “The Lost World” models

Willis O’Brien working on “The Lost World” models

The movie even won a special achievement award for rear screen projection. This is when live-action footage is projected against a small screen on the set and was primarily used to enhance scenery while filming models. Before the invention of green screen “digital mattes”, matte paintings were used to fill in parts of a scene’s environment. The film Wizard of Oz brought evolution in matte painting with the addition of colour.

Ben Hur (1959)

Ben Hur (1959)

Star wars matte paining

Star wars matte paining

Before gravity, Space Odyssey (1968) wowed audience with a groundbreaking interpretation of space in film by using a rotating seat.Later in 2001 motion control camera system was introduced which allowed filmmakers to save precise camera moves to

Green Screen

            Green Screen

a computer and repeat them if necessary. Then Spielberg in 1993 combined practical effects with computer imagery and gave an entire generation of moviegoers the thrill of a lifetime by bringing dinosaurs back to Earth. Advancing the motion capture technology from Lord of the Rings, Cameron developed an updated system with notable innovations like to improve the facial expression capture and cameras that could display CGI models in real-time with filming. Also, Avatar launched a new wave of 3D which totally changed our perception of the format.


Distribution – process of making a movie available for viewing by an audience

According to my opinion William Wadsworth Hodkinson was the guy who brought change to the way movies were produced, distributed and exhibited. It will be more correct to title him as the Man who invented the business of Hollywood. Earlier movie releases were usually handled in one of two ways-either by state rights or road show. These methods proved ineffective for wide-scale feature distribution. As the movie produced were G rated and after screening at the big city theatre the movie was allowed to run at smaller theatres in smaller towns. After this long process the movie was stored and left to rot away because no one could reckon it caused any more value. Independent filmmakers were almost non-existent because there were few places to exhibit their films.

It consists of a series of exhibition “windows of opportunity”

tableBut a tax scheme sponsored by the Nixon administration modify the industry. This allowed the producers to write off hundreds of millions of dollars in past and future investments. The studio also found ways to incorporate their business more firmly with broadcast television, cable, the record industry, and home video. Just as important, a new generation of filmmakers emerged. Thither was a explosion of record breaking hits: The French Connection (1971), The Godfather (1972), The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975) and many others. This release system called for an upgrade in exhibition as well like well-appointed multiplex theaters began to ramp up.

It is likewise potential that when distributors are not confident in a film’s appeal, a broad theatrical release can set up a window for the home video market. Some movies that are disappointing in theatrical release become top sell-through and rental videocassettes and DVDs. Hollywood majors are still the central forces in home video distribution, which bears its own industrial structure. Video distribution is handled by distributors or wholesalers, who buy products from manufacturers and sell to retailers. Not only this, but cable systems, cable channels and program producers have been merged in one company, sometimes linked with one of the Hollywood majors. Currently, the chief example is AOL Time Warner, the second largest cable operator in the USA, as we have seen, the owner of pay channels (HBO, Cinemax, etc.), and several major production companies. Early studies indicated that the main reason subscribers wanted pay cable (or even cable) was to view uncut, relatively recent movies. Thus, it is not surprising that the mainstay of pay channel programming in the USA is Hollywood films, which is often touted as the basis of cable’s diverse programming.

Other than DVDs studio profits are hit by the use of Blu-ray, a higher definition format and Video on demand (VOD) or audio and video on demand (AVOD) – systems which grant users to choose and view/listen to video or audio content when they choose to, rather than having to watch at a specific broadcast time. With the rapid growth of digital distribution, new players have emerged in the market, which has been overshadowed by Apple’s iTunes, boosting sales. Comcast, the world’s largest cable operator, and Target, the US retailer, launched digital movie services during the year, in which the best-selling titles included Despicable Me 2, Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Wreck-It Ralph. Dan Cryan, senior analyst with IHS, the media research firm said “Consumers have responded positively to studios introducing early windowing and cloud storage”. The growth of subscription services, such as Netflix, also boosted studio revenues, he added. This allows filmmakers to make their film available in a wide range of audience and the audience can watch the movie in the way they wish to. But digital distribution gave way to piracy. Studios are finding ways to combat this problem. Like Warner Bros subsidiary of Time Warner (conglomerate) fight with the problem through WARNER BROS ANTI-PIRACY OPERATIONS which is engaged in intellectual property protection activities and initiatives on a global basis.


DVD cover of Twilight

DVD cover of Twilight

Blu-ray movies

Blu-ray movies









Another example which make the film exhibition easier

Screen shot 2011-11-23 at 17.23.34




Genre – A way of categorizing a particular media text according to its content and style.

Hollywood has evolved from its modest origins in the days of melodramatic, black and white, silent films with somewhat crude production methods to a variety of genres. If a studio produced a movie that was loved by the audience that had seen it, you could now, be sure there would be additional follow-up films with a similar, or even the same theme. Soon these turn out to be individual film genres. Comedy, Drama, Action and Adventure, Musicals, Film Noir, Mystery and Suspense, Horror, Science Fiction, Westerns, and more are genres that the modern audience is aware of.


Film Noir 3_905

In 1940, an entirely new genre-Film Noir hit the cinema screens. Stranger On The Third Floor; visually, was like no other film before it, with stark low key lighting, and low camera shots. Film noirs were generally stylish, gloomy, crime dramas, again with roots in German Expressionism. They questioned morality, and toed the line of sexuality and motivation in cinema. They were daring films made of high-end, B-movie budgets, with little known stars and little funding. It is sad that this genre is forgotten by modern audiences.



A variety of different style of war films were made in the former days of the genre, such as The Big Parade and What Price Glory?, and, in the opposite way, a comedy by Charlie Chaplin (Shoulder Arms, 1918). These former two both looked at the horror and futility of war. Soon movies produced focusing on the emotional and physiological effects of combat. But war movies days as a mainstream Hollywood genre appear to have moved on. Though war movies are still made like Inglourious Basterds (2009), Lone Survivor (2013)and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and are successful.



Action Adventure films are designed to create an action-filled, energetic experience for the audience who can live vicariously through the exotic locations, conquests, explorations, struggles and situations that confront the principal roles. Like Steve Rogers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history



All romances have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending. Beyond that, however, romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality-ranging from sweet to extremely hot. Sub-genres of Romance films are Romantic Drama, Chick flick, Romantic Comedy, Romantic action comedies and Romantic Thriller. Most popular romance feature films are Titanic (1997), The Great Gatsby (2013), The Fault In Our Stars (2014), Twilight and etc.



Horror films aim to frighten and panic people while entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience. Common elements include ghosts, aliens, vampires, werewolves, demons, gore, torture, vicious animals, evil witches, monsters, zombies, cannibals, and serial killers. The Conjuring, World War Z, Jaws 2 and The Shining are some examples of horror films.



Comedies are light-hearted dramas, crafted to amuse, entertain, and provoke enjoyment. Comedy is simple and could never go out of style. The comedy could be broken down into screwball comedies, action comedies, buddy comedies, etc. Highest grossing comedy films of all time are Home Alone, Meet the Fockers, The Hangover, Wedding Crashers and many others.

Film Budgeting

is an important process in film making by which a filmmaker, unit of production or line producer prepares a budget for a film production. The producer has to keep in mind that the budget have to be divided into above the line (creative talent), below the line (direct production costs), post-production (editing, visual effects, etc.) and other (insurance, completion bond, etc.). Hollywood is known for producing movies with massive budgets. According to the Motion Picture Association of America’s Annual Report, movies rake in tens of billions of dollars at the box office every year, and this number is steadily increasing. Spider man 3 with a budget of $258 million, The Lone Ranger-$225 million, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End-$300 million and Oz the Great and Powerful-$215 million are some of the most expensive films. The reason Hollywood movies are of high budget as the filmmakers focus on all the elements of filmmaking (Story rights, Cast, Director, Visual effects, Screenplay, Production costs, Music) to the best, so that there movie could be appealing to audience. But sometimes high budget movie’s filmmaker has to suffer a huge loss because their movies does not make that much profit that they expected to.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest film budgets of the past three years and the differences in how they fared opening weekend:


Marketing- A way to make your product available to the wider world

Movie marketing is the artistry and skill of convincing consumers to buy movie tickets. Hollywood movies grossed $26.7 billion worldwide in 2007

. The reason Hollywood movies lead because studios in order to sell a movie to the public spent another $35.9 on marketing for a total budget of $106.6 million per picture. There are several ways by which Hollywood studios promote their films to the public. Soft launch campaigns are effective-creating a new website specifically for the film. This builds anticipation prior to the big day. Like <www.ibelieveinharveydent.com> was the first of a long line of websites dedicated to generating interest in “The Dark Knight”. Other than this a major search engine (like Yahoo’s main page) puts up articles which appear to present interesting news related items, but in actuality are rear-end loaded with a links page containing various references to film characters, products or plot. Example: Bond, Transformers, etc…, is connected to scientific invention news stories about advanced weaponry or robotics discoveries, which promptly guides the reader to pages loaded with the latest 007 or Megatron movie clip or art director’s fantastical ideas and designs. Moreover filmmakers should keep contact with online digital film screeners in order to access individual copies of their film or a promo to the sales agents, press, distributors etc.. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ are the sources used by film makers to advertise their merchandise. But, according to the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood executives are considering cutting their spending on Facebook ads. However, it could mean that Hollywood isn’t using it in the best way for its business. For example ad of “Dark Shadows” from spring 2012. Although the call to action says “watch the trailer” no trailer is included in the ad, nor was it featured on a landing page.


On the other hand studios buy premium homepage and log out ads, this generate interest for the film to a widespread audience.
There are other mediums for the audience’s who do not have access to internet like print, television, radio, etc. Film cast and crew interviews, appeared on popular TV shows, advertisement in newspaper, magazines, etc. Synergy and technological convergence also made life a lot easier. Cross promotion of the original book or novelization (Harry Potter), comic special edition or special episodes. Moreover, paid co-branding (Eragon in American Chopper-two episodes) or co-advertising (Aston Martin and James Bond films) of a product with the film and promotional giveaways: branded drink cups, toys, or food combinations at fast food chains. For example, McDonalds offers Lego movie toys with every happy meal to appeal their niche audience.

Flicks' that are also books

Flicks’ that are also books

Comic and Movie Superheroes

Comic and Movie Superheroes

McDonalds toys

McDonalds toys

Mainstay of film promotion are trailers, because they are delivered directly to moviegoers. Hollywood spent a lot of money on and to promote their trailers. The Dark Knight campaign excite audience to look for clues all across major cities in America and soon sight of the Batman symbol was projected onto the side of a New York skyscraper. Hundreds of fans flocked to the symbol just as Batman follows as a sign to meet Commissioner Gordon in the film. Their prize was a preview of the first full length trailer. Film ‘Epic’ with a different approach ask the actors to share their genuine excitement for the film by introducing the animated characters that they lend their voices to. The film brings together singers and actors to create an ensemble cast of superstars that each can pull their own fan bases toward the film.

It is true that films with popular stars and films based on popular books bomb all the time, so filmmakers should make posters and billboards which introduce their actors to audience. Like Harry Potter and the deathly hallows part 2 posters feature main characters (Harry, Dark lord, Ron, Hermione and Snape) with the caption “It all Ends 7.15”. These marketing strategies also give an idea to the director that how much their movie will appeal to audience.

BIG Hits of Hollywood

These movies are among the most popular movies of the motion picture industry of the United States.
Titanic is a 1997 American epic romantic disaster film directed, written, co-produced, co-edited and partly financed by James Cameron. The movie revolves around Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), a 101-year-old woman tells the story to her granddaughters about her journey on a ship called Titanic. Young Rose is on her way with her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, to Philadelphia to marry her rich snob fiance Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane). Rose feels helplessly trapped by her situation and makes her way to the aft deck and thinks of suicide until she is rescued by Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) who win third-class tickets to the ship in a game. And this interaction changes their lives forever. 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures film became the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide in 1998, and remained so for twelve years, until Avatar, also written and directed by Cameron, surpassed it in 2010. Titanic earned $658,672,302 in North America and $1,526,700,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $2,185,372,302. Titanic sailed back into theatres in 3D around the world on April 6,2012 (the date was chosen to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship setting sail.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 fantasy film directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The final chapter begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione continue their quest of finding and destroying the Dark Lord’s three remaining Horcruxes, the magical items responsible for his immortality. Voldemort finds out about their mission as the mystical Deathly Hallows gets uncovered. This marked the beginning of the biggest battle and life as they know it will never be the same again. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 grossed $381,011,219 in the United States and Canada, along with $960,500,000 in other markets, for a worldwide total of $1,341,511,219. In worldwide earnings, it is the fourth highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing 2011 film, the highest-grossing film in the Harry Potter franchise and the highest-grossing children’s book adaptation.


The Avengers, is a 2012 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The story involves Loki, the stepbrother of Thor, teams-up with the Chitauri Army and uses the Tesseract power to travel from Asgard to Earth to plot the invasion of Earth by the Chitauri and become the king of Earth. To save the world from the disaster Nick Fury (Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peacekeeping agency) sets in motion the project The Avengers. The Avenger joins Tony Stark a.k.a the Iron Man; Steve Rogers, a.k.a Captain America; Bruce Banner, a.k.a The Hulk; Thor; Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a Black Widow; and Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye. It became the third highest-grossing film worldwide as well as highest-grossing 2012 film. It is the highest-grossing comic-book adaptation, the highest grossing superhero film and the highest-grossing film ever released by the Walt Disney Studios.






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