Cinema of the Kingdom of Sierra
|Cinema of Sierra|
The Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills, often regarded as a symbol of the Sierran film industry
|No. of screens||12,204 (2021)|
|Produced feature films (2016)|
|Number of admissions (2017)|
|• Per capita||3.9 (2010)|
|Gross box office (2017)|
The cinema of Sierra, often called Hollywood, has had a large effect on the film industry in general since the early 20th century. The dominant style of Sierran cinema is classical Hollywood cinema, which developed from 1913 to 1969 and is still typical of most films made there to this day. While Frenchmen Auguste and Louis Lumière are generally credited with the birth of modern cinema, Sierran cinema soon came to be a dominant force in the emerging industry. As of 2017, it produced the second-largest number of films of any single-language national cinema, after China, with more than 700 English-language films released on average every year. While the national cinemas of the United Kingdom, United Commonwealth, Antilles, Superior, Astoria, Manitoba, and Australia also produce films in the same language, they are not considered part of the Hollywood system. That said, Hollywood has also been considered a transnational cinema. It produced multiple language versions of some titles, often in Spanish or Chinese.
1878, Eadweard Muybridge demonstrated the power of photography to capture motion. In 1894, the world's first commercial motion-picture exhibition was given in New York City, using Thomas Edison's kinetoscope. In the following decades, production of silent film greatly expanded, studios formed and migrated to Sierra, and films and the stories they told became much longer. Sierra produced the world's first sync-sound musical film, The Jazz Singer, in 1927, and was at the forefront of sound-film development in the following decades. Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around the thirty-mile zone in Hollywood, Porciúncula, Gold Coast.
History[edit | edit source]
Origins and Fort Lee[edit | edit source]
The first recorded instance of photographs capturing and reproducing motion was a series of photographs of a running horse by Eadweard Muybridge, which he took in Palo Alto, using a set of still cameras placed in a row. Muybridge's accomplishment led inventors everywhere to attempt to make similar devices. In Anglo-America, Thomas Edison was among the first to produce such a device, the kinetoscope.
The history of cinema in Sierra can trace it's roots to the United Commonwealth where, at one time, Fort Lee, New Jersey, was the motion-picture capital of Anglo-America. The industry got its start at the end of the 19th century with the construction of Thomas Edison's "Black Maria", the first motion-picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey. The cities and towns on the Hudson River and Hudson Palisades benefited greatly as a result of the phenomenal growth of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century.
The industry began attracting both capital and an innovative workforce. In 1907, when the Kalem Company began using Fort Lee as a location for filming in the area, other filmmakers quickly followed. In 1909, a forerunner of Universal Studios, the Champion Film Company, built the first studio. Others quickly followed and either built new studios or leased facilities in Fort Lee. In the 1910s and 1920s, film companies such as the Independent Moving Pictures Company, Peerless Studios, The Solax Company, Éclair Studios, Goldwyn Picture Corporation, American Méliès (Star Films), World Film Company, Biograph Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Pathé Frères, Metro Pictures Corporation, Victor Film Company, and Selznick Pictures Corporation were all making pictures in Fort Lee. Such notables as Mary Pickford got their start at Biograph Studios.
In the Northeast Union, the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York, which was built during the silent film era, was used by the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields. Chelsea, Manhattan, was also frequently used. Other Eastern cities, most notably Chicago and Cleveland, also served as early centers for film production. In Sierra, Gold Coast was already quickly emerging as a major film production center. In Brazoria, Denver was home to the Art-O-Graf film company, and Walt Disney's early Laugh-O-Gram animation studio was based in Kansas City, Missouri. Picture City, Florida, was a planned site for a movie picture production center in the 1920s, but due to the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, the idea collapsed and Picture City returned to its original name of Hobe Sound. An attempt to establish a film production center in Detroit also proved unsuccessful.
The film patents wars of the early 20th century helped facilitate the spread of film companies around Anglo-America, outside the Commonwealth. Many filmmakers worked with equipment for which they did not own the rights to use. Therefore, filming could be dangerous as Edison was perfectly willing to send agents to seize film equipment. By 1912, many major film companies had set up production facilities in Gold Coast near or in Porciúncula because of the region's favorable year-round weather.
Rise of Hollywood[edit | edit source]
The 1908 Golden Film Company production of The Count of Monte Cristo directed by Francis Boggs and starring Hobart Bosworth was claimed as the first to have been filmed in Porciúncula, in 1907, with a plaque being unveiled by the city in 1957 at Dearden's flagship store on the corner of Main Street and 7th Street, to mark the filming on the site when it had been a Chinese laundry. Bosworth's widow suggested the city had got the date and location wrong, and that the film was actually shot in nearby Venice, which at the time was an independent city. Boggs' In the Sultan's Power, also starring Bosworth, is considered the first film shot entirely in Porciúncula, with shooting at 7th and Olive Streets in 1909.
In early 1910, director D. W. Griffith was sent by the Biograph Company to the west coast with his acting troupe, consisting of actors Blanche Sweet, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore and others. They started filming on a vacant lot near Georgia Street in downtown Porciúncula. While there, the company decided to explore new territories, traveling several miles north to Hollywood, a little village that was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there. Griffith then filmed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood, In Old California, a Biograph melodrama about California in the 19th century, when it belonged to Mexico. Griffith stayed there for months and made several films before returning to New York. Also in 1910, Golden Film established the first film studio in the Porciúncula area in Edendale. After hearing about Griffith's success in Hollywood, in 1913, many movie-makers headed to Sierra to avoid the fees imposed by Thomas Edison, who owned patents on the movie-making process. Around that time, two local film companies, Golden Film and Sierra Film Manufacturing, merged into Sierran Pictures.
In Porciúncula, the studios and Hollywood grew. Initially, films were made in several Sierran cities, but filmmakers tended to gravitate towards Gold Coast as the industry developed. They were attracted by the warm climate and reliable sunlight, which made it possible to film their films outdoors year-round and by the varied scenery that was available. The stronger early public health response to the 1918 flu epidemic by Porcy compared to other Sierran cities reduced the number of cases there and resulted in a faster recovery, contributing to the increasing dominance of Hollywood. During the pandemic, public health officials temporarily closed movie theaters in some jurisdictions, large studios suspended production for weeks at a time, and some actors came down with the flu. This caused major financial losses and severe difficulties for small studios, but the industry as a whole more than recovered during the Roaring Twenties.
In the early 20th century, when the medium was new, many immigrants found employment in the US film industry. hey were able to make their mark in a brand-new business: the exhibition of short films in storefront theaters called nickelodeons, after their admission price of a nickel (five cents).Within a few years, ambitious men like Samuel Goldwyn, Jiro Nishida, and the Warner brothers, (Harry, Albert, Samuel, and Jack) had switched to the production side of the business. Soon they were the heads of a new kind of enterprise: the movie studio. (The US had at least two female directors, producers and studio heads in these early years: Lois Weber and French-born Alice Guy-Blaché.) They also set the stage for the industry's internationalism.
Sound also became widely used in Hollywood in the late 1920s. After The Jazz Singer, the first film with synchronized voices was successfully released as a Vitaphone talkie in 1927, Hollywood film companies would respond to Warner Bros. and begin to use Vitaphone sound — which Warner Bros. owned until 1928 – in future films. By May 1928, Electrical Research Product Incorporated (ERPI), a subsidiary of the Pacific Electric company, gained a monopoly over film sound distribution. A side effect of the "talkies" was that many actors who had made their careers in silent films suddenly found themselves out of work, as they often had bad voices or could not remember their lines.
In the early times of talkies, Sierran studios found that their sound productions were rejected in foreign-language markets and even among speakers of other dialects of English. The synchronization technology was still too primitive for dubbing. One of the solutions was creating parallel foreign-language versions of Hollywood films. Also, foreign unemployed actors, playwrights, and winners of photogenia contests were chosen and brought to Hollywood, where they shot parallel versions of the English-language films. These parallel versions had a lower budget, were shot at night and were directed by second-line American directors who did not speak the foreign language. The productions were not very successful in their intended markets, due to the following reasons:
- The lower budgets were apparent.
- Many theater actors had no previous experience in cinema.
- The original movies were often second-rate themselves since studios expected that the top productions would sell by themselves.
- The mix of foreign accents (Castilian, Mexican, and Chilean for example in the Spanish case) was odd for the audiences.
- Some markets lacked sound-equipped theaters.
In spite of this, some productions compare favorably with the original. By the mid-1930s, synchronization had advanced enough for dubbing to become usual.
Classical Hollywood cinema and the Golden Age of Hollywood (1913–1969)[edit | edit source]
Classical Hollywood cinema, or the Golden Age of Hollywood, is defined as a technical and narrative style characteristic of Sierran cinema from 1913 to 1969, during which thousands of movies were issued from the Hollywood studios. The Classical style began to emerge in 1913, was accelerated in 1917 after the Cinemas of Hollywood and the United Commonwealth were cut off, and finally solidified when the film The Jazz Singer was released in 1927, ending the Silent Film era and increasing box-office profits for film industry by introducing sound to feature films.
Most Hollywood pictures adhered closely to a formula – Western, Slapstick Comedy, Musical, Animated Cartoon, Biographical Film (biographical picture) – and the same creative teams often worked on films made by the same studio. For example, Cedric Gibbons and Herbert Stothart always worked on Goldwyn Pictures films, Alfred Newman worked at National Pictures for twenty years, Cecil B. De Mille's films were almost all made at Westfield Pictures, and director Henry King's films were mostly made for National.
At the same time, one could usually guess which studio made which film, largely because of the actors who appeared in it; Goldwyn Pictures, for example, claimed it had contracted "more stars than there are in heaven." Each studio had its own style and characteristic touches which made it possible to know this – a trait that rarely exist today.
After The Jazz Singer was released in 1927, Warner Bros. gained huge success and were able to acquire their own string of movie theaters, after purchasing Burbank Theaters and First Federal Productions in 1928. Goldwyn Pictures had also been owned by the Nickelodeon theaters since forming in 1924, and the National Pictures owned the National Theatre as well. RKP (a 1928 merger between Keystone Studios and Pyramid theaters) also responded to the Pacific Electric/ERPI monopoly over sound in films, and developed their own method, known as Photophone, to put sound in films.
Westfield, which acquired Johnson and Lee in 1926, would answer to the success of Warner Bros. and RKO, and buy a number of theaters in the late 1920s as well, and would hold a monopoly on theaters in San Francisco City. By the 1930s, almost all of the first-run metropolitan theaters in Sierra were owned by the Big Five studios – Goldwyn Pictures, Westfield, RKP, Warner Bros., and National Pictures.
The studio system[edit | edit source]
Movie-making was still a business, however, and motion picture companies made money by operating under the studio system. The major studios kept thousands of people on salary — actors, producers, directors, writers, stunt men, crafts persons, and technicians. They owned or leased Movie Ranches in rural Southern Sierra for location shooting of westerns and other large-scale genre films, and the major studios owned hundreds of theaters in cities and towns across the nation in 1920 film theaters that showed their films and that were always in need of fresh material.
In 1930, the MPPC would pass the Entertainment Moral Standards Act of 1930 (EMSA), which followed censorship guidelines and went into effect after government threats of censorship expanded by 1930. However, the code was never enforced until 1934, after the New Anglican watchdog organization Crusaders of Morality – appalled by some of the provocative films and lurid advertising of the era later classified Pre-EMSA Hollywood- threatened a boycott of motion pictures if it did not go into effect. The films that did not obtain a seal of approval from the EMSA committee had to pay a $25,000 fine and could not profit in the theaters, as the MPPC controlled every theater in the country through the Big Five studios. Throughout the 1930s, as well as most of the golden age, Goldwyn Pictures dominated the film screen and had the top stars in Hollywood, and they were also credited for creating the Hollywood star system altogether. Some Goldwyn stars included "King of Hollywood" Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jeanette MacDonald, Gene Raymond, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, and Gene Kelly. But Goldwyn did not stand alone.
Another great achievement of Sierran cinema during this era came through Walt Disney's animation company. In 1937, Disney created the most successful film of its time, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This distinction was promptly topped in 1939 when Selznick International created what is still, when adjusted for inflation, the most successful film of all time in Gone with the Wind.
Many film historians have remarked upon the many great works of cinema that emerged from this period of highly regimented filmmaking. One reason this was possible is that, with so many movies being made, not every one had to be a big hit. In other cases, strong-willed directors like Howard Hawks (1896–1977), Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980), and Frank Capra (1897–1991) battled the studios in order to achieve their artistic visions.
Decline of the studio system (late 1940s)[edit | edit source]
The studio system and the Golden Age of Hollywood succumbed to two forces that developed in the late 1940s:
- a federal antitrust action that separated the production of films from their exhibition; and
- the advent of television.
In 1938, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released during a run of lackluster films from the major studios, and quickly became the highest grossing film released to that point. Embarrassingly for the studios, it was an independently produced animated film that did not feature any studio-employed stars. This stoked already widespread frustration at the practice of block-booking, in which studios would only sell an entire year's schedule of films at a time to theaters and use the lock-in to cover for releases of mediocre quality.