One Reel Stories (04:23)
Early films capture only the illusion of motions—and then follow the nickelodeons. "The Great Train Robbery" in 1903 is the first film to have a plot, and it thrills audiences. Other films followed--stories that were told in one reel with a beginning, middle, and end.
Visual Storytelling (05:12)
Films soon begin attracting large audiences in search of diversion, realism, action, and compelling plots. Though it is a blatantly racist film, "Birth of a Nation" is seen by 24 million people in two years. Americans soon learn to project their lives onto screen actors like Mary Pickford.
Films: Attracting Audiences (05:46)
Drawn by stars, spectacle, and sound, audiences flock to theaters, and soon filmmaking becomes big business. The movie business has always been star driven--but- it was the studios that ran the stars. Audiences want familiar stories that follow in predictable ways.
Hollywood Studio Control (03:27)
Through the 1940s, Hollywood studios continue to dominate filmmaking. Hollywood keeps its films safe for all audiences but wants freedom from all outside control. In the 1950s and the McCarthy era, Hollywood is intimated when asked to name names in the hunt for communists.
Movies Compete with Television (03:09)
By 1946, paid theater admissions reach over $1.5 billion, and that same year, Americans buy 11,000 televisions. By the end of the 1950s, 90% of Americans own a television. Hollywood responds with new screen sizes, more sex and violence, and controversial subject matter.
New Markets for Old Films (01:11)
Hollywood realizes that it can put its feature films on television to reach the mass audiences that once flocked to theaters. Soon, major film studios add television production divisions to create programming, promote stars, and make money.
Film Industry and Technology (02:55)
In the 1970s, mass audiences access home videos. In the middle and late 1970s, Hollywood realizes that videos spur interest in particular stars or genre, thus guaranteeing future audiences for future films. New technology continues to open new opportunities for the movies.
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