Motion Picture Industry Analysis

Superior Essays
The Great Depression is a major part of American history and had a significant role in the growth of the motion picture industry. From 1929 to 1939, America was in an economic recession that impacted most industries for the worse. The film industry had to adapt to the economic downturn by accommodating to their audiences. As Morris Dickstein shows in Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, even though the decade was of economic downturn, it “created a vibrant culture rich in the production of popular fantasy and trenchant social criticism” (4). The industry had to evaluate its audiences while introducing technological advancements and testing various genres. The key was to understand what the audience wanted, while …show more content…
The motion picture industry began a shift into ‘talkies’ right before the Depression began, but the largest transition into sound took place during. Not many people in the industry were open to sound films at first, but the public was interested in hearing more than just music. As Kenneth MacGowan in “When the Talkies Came to Hollywood” states “the increase of sound-equipped theaters from under 9,000 at the end of 1929 to 13,000 two years later” shows how the industry quickly worked to incorporate sound into its theatres (289). If the industry had not rushed forward in the sound evolution, the switch from silent to sound film may not have happened for a while with theatres unable to afford the sound equipment. The “Wall Street boom and quick success of the talkies” is what led theatres to readily buy the equipment in the first place (MacGowan 287). The movie industry was advancing from silent films into a new era that produced many great films and stars. Even though most audiences seemed to embrace sound, not everyone liked the transition from live music to stereo sound. A survey noted by Elizabeth Fones-Wolf in “Sound Comes to the Movies: The Philadelphia Musicians’’ Struggle against Recorded Music” that part of the public “resented entertainment that impeded interaction between audience and performer” (16). The public was used to live orchestras and commanding the show, …show more content…
The audience is the key that links together all the changes that occurred in the industry during the decade. When audience numbers decreased at the beginning of the Depression, theatres were pushed to find ways to bring audiences back. The Depression depleted the population’s extra expenses that they could put toward luxuries, so the industry had to adapt to the economy of the time. If not enough people were coming to see films, and then the theatres would have to close due to lack of funds. The studios would lose a great deal of money trying to afford luxury theatres at a time when the majority could not afford its services. As Morris Dickstein mentions in Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, the Depression “centered on hunger and fear, the nagging hunger of the poorest Americans” while many Americans were left job less after the stock market crash (16). Studios had to work to get a population of Americans worrying about hunger in to see their films. Though ticket prices were at the lowest points, theatres had to offer more to the public to get them to spend their hard earned money. The genres popular during the time were based on what garnered the most audiences. The films of the Depression “offered appealing fantasies to counter social and economic malaise” (Dickstein

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