Industry Research


What is Hollywood? Well you may know it as a district in the central region of Los Angeles, California, in the United States. It is notable for its place as the home of the entertainment industry, including several of its historic studios. But in this case the research is based on Hollywood as an industry.

Hollywood came to be so strongly associated with the film industry that the word “Hollywood” came to be used colloquially to refer to the entire industry. From about 1930 five major Hollywood movie studios from all over the Los Angeles area, Paramount, RKO, 20th Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros., owned large, grand theaters throughout the country for the exhibition of their movies. The period between the years 1927 to 1948 is considered the age of the “Hollywood studio system” By the mid-1950s, when television proved a profitable enterprise that was here to stay, movie studios started also being used for the production of programming in that medium, which is still the norm today.

The name Hollywood was coined by H.J Whitley, “the Father of Hollywood”. It all started off with just an experiment in the late 19th century.

1910 The first film ever made in Hollywood went public, being only seventeen minutes long.

1912   The first official film studio opened up by the name of Nestor Studio, in Hollywood.

1914 The first official Hollywood film, made in a Hollywood studio came out to show; directed by a legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood- Cecil B. DeMille.

And so, by 1915 the American film industry, initially based in New York, began its way to Los Angeles; beginning the American film industry.

The Big Five of Hollywood     

MGM) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer       download


It was established in 1924 from parent company Loew’s Inc. Around the 1930’s it was known to be the biggest and most prolific of the ‘Big Five’. At one point it had even released an average of 1 feature film per week. Also its parent company, Loew’s, provided the largest exhibition and distribution network in the world. It was said that “There was no film or star too big for MGM”. MGM produced some of the most dazzling films of that era.

The Wizard of Oz: Trouble in Paradise (1939)                      wizard of oz

In the making, four directors were involved. Richard Thorpe, who lasted two weeks and then George Cukor, who lasted two to three days, Victor Fleming was involved in the making for four months and then finally King Vidor was brought in to finish the production which only took him 10 days. Even with the different directors the movie is seen as a stunning piece of art. It won two Oscars and six awards, also eleven other nominations. Although the film received largely positive reviews, it was not a huge box office success on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,000,000 budget. The film was MGM’s most expensive production up to that time, but its initial release failed to recoup the studio’s investment.

Paramount       paramount

Established as a distribution company in 1914; then bought by Zukor in 1917, who merged it with his production company and therefore becoming the first vertically integrated company. Many of the directors in the early days of Paramount were Austrian and German exiles and because of this many studio films had a European look, full of dramatic lighting and elaborate set designs. One of Paramount’s main directors was Cecil B. DeMille, who invented the Biblical Epic. It is said that if you try to imagine different stories from the Bible or anything from ancient mythology you would probably picture the films of DeMille.

In contrast to DeMilles epics, Paramount also had the German director Ernst Lubitsch. Who directed films featuring the glamorous lives of the “jet set”. A recurring theme in classical Hollywood films the lifestyles of the idle rich. These films continued to be successful at the box office during worst depressions in the US speaks to the fact that Hollywood audience functioned to great fantasy.


Fox      20th

It was established in 1913 by William Fox; he founded Fox Studios in 1914 and began building his empire by buying up chains of movie theatres. Fox had eared great success with this strategy with films such as Seventh Heaven (1926). Though this film was a box-office hit, Fox found himself set to gamble with big budgeted films.  He continued in this manner until the stock market crash of 1929. By 1930 was seen as a national decline in box office and the studio as close to bankruptcy. Five years later Fox merged with 20th Century Pictures, becoming what we know today 20th Century Fox. Proving to be successful from the very beginning, their 1934 production, The House of Rothschild was nominated for an Academy award for best picture. In 1935 they produced the classic film Les Miserables which again was nominated for best picture.


Warner Brothers                                        warner

It had been established in 1924 by Harry Jack and Albert Warner. The Warner Bros is best known for its innovation in sound technology, producing the first ever sound film The Jazz Singer in 1927. Warner partnered with Western Electric to develop a sound system, involving a huge amount of investment. It became famous and the “first talking picture”, it was a huge international success, grossing 3 million dollars.

The genre that Warner Bros is most associated with is the gangster film.  In 1939 the head of production at Warner, Darryl F Zanuck, announced a series of films whose stories would be drawn from newspaper headlines. Being the inspiration behind movies like Little Caesar 1931 and The Public Enemy 1931 and the commercial success of these two films determined studio policy the rest of the decade



Warner Bros is of course also known as the home of Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes characters. Looney Tunes began as a way to promote a library of musical scores that Warner had acquired. The Walt Disney Studios were the first to introduce short musical cartoons called “Silly Symphonies”. Warner Bros quickly copied the format, hiring ex-Disney animators and by featuring a mouse named Bosko, who resembled Mickey Mouse. Looney Tunes animators eventually distinguished themselves from Disney by developing scenarios more risky or “adult”.

RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum)                              rko

It was formed at the beginning of the sound era; from its parent company RCA (the Radio Corporation America) headed by the tycoon John D. Rockfeller.  RKO was partly responsible for streamlining Hollywood film, instituting “unit production”. This involved RKO contracting independent producers who were responsible for making specific films that had a specific style or story line. In other words different producers were put in charge of different genres.

Even with this approach RKO was not seen to associate with a particular genre. This is partly because studio kept changing its production policies and did not commit to any one type of film.  The studio is mostly remembered for producing two classical films: King Kong 1933 and Citizen Kane 1941. It is said that television killed RKO studios.

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