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Film studios


Film studios

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A movie studio is a controlled environment for the making of a film. This environment may be interior (sound stage), exterior (backlot) or both.



In casual usage, the term has become confused with production company, due to the fact that, especially in the United States, the major, well-known production companies of Hollywood's "Golden Age" (roughly 1925-1960) normally owned their own studio subsidiaries. However, worldwide (and even in the USA) most production companies did not, in fact, own their own studios but had to rent space at independently owned studios which, just as frequently, never produced a film of their own.


In 1893, Thomas Edison built the first movie studio in the USA when he constructed the Black Maria, a tarpaper-covered structure near his laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey, and asked circus, vaudeville and dramatic actors to perform for the camera. He distributed these movies at vaudeville theatres, penny arcades, wax museums and fairgrounds. Other studio operations followed in New Jersey, New York City and Chicago, Illinois.

But in the early 1900s, companies started moving to Los Angeles, California, because of the good weather and longer days. Although electric lights existed at that time, none were powerful enough to adequately expose film; the best source of illumination for motion picture production was natural sunlight. Some movies were shot on the roofs of buildings in Downtown Los Angeles. Another reason that early movie producers located in Southern California was to escape Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company, as he owned almost all the patents relevant to movie production at the time. The distance from New Jersey made it more difficult for Edison to enforce his patents.

The first movie studio in the Hollywood area was Nestor Studios, which was opened in 1911 by Al Christie for David Horsley. In the same year, another fifteen Independents settled in Hollywood. Other studios eventually settled in such towns and districts in the Los Angeles area as Culver City, Burbank and Studio City in the San Fernando Valley.

By the mid 1920s the evolution of a handful of American production companies into wealthy film industry conglomerates, which owned their own studios, as well as their own distribution divisions, theaters, contracted performers and filmmaking personnel, led to the incorrect equation of "studio" with "production company" as a result of industry slang. Five large companies, Fox (later 20th Century Fox), Loew’s Incorporated (parent company for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Paramount Pictures, RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) and Warner Bros., came to be known as the "Big Five", the "majors" or "the Studios" in trade publications such as Variety and their management structures and practices came to be called the Studio system. Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures and United Artists also fell under these rubrics, although they did not own their own theaters to play only their own productions: United Artists, in fact, also did not own its studio or contract personnel, and functioned only as a financier-distributor.

The Big Five's ownership of theaters was eventually opposed by eight independent producers, which included Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick, Walt Disney and Walter Wanger, and in 1948 the U.S. government won a case against Paramount in the Supreme Court, the ruling being that this high level of power constituted a monopoly and was therefore against the law. This decision effectively helped end the "studio system" and The Golden Age of Hollywood, along with the economic after-effects of World War II on the general American economy.

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. Some companies, such as Republic Pictures, eventually sold their studios to TV production companies. With the end of "the Studios" and the continued incursion of television into the audience for film, more and more companies became simply management structures which put together artistic teams on a project-by-project basis, usually renting space from some of the surviving studios, which is still the norm today.

Some early movie studios

Babelsberg Studios, (Germany)
Barrandov Studios, (Czech Republic)
Biograph Studios (USA)
Champion Film Company (USA)
Christie Film Company, (USA)
Edison's Black Maria (USA)
Edison Studios, The Bronx (USA)
Famous Players Film Company
Fox Film Corporation (USA)
Gaumont Pictures, (France)
Méliès Films, (France)
Mosfilm, (Russia)
Mutual Film Corporation, (USA)
Goldwyn Picture Corporation, (USA)
Kalem Company, (USA)
Keystone Studios, (USA)
Lone Star Film Company, (USA)
Lubin Studios (USA)
Nelson Entertainment, (USA)
Nestor Studios, (USA)
New York Motion Picture Company, (USA)
Nordisk Film, (Denmark)
Pathé Frères, (France)
Pinewood Studios, (England)
Premium Picture Productions, (USA)
Selig Polyscope Company
Solax Studios (USA)
Southall Studios (UK)
Thanhouser Company, (USA)
Triangle Pictures Corporation, (USA)
Yankee Film Company, (USA)
Victor Studios (USA)
The Vitagraph Company, (USA)
World Pictures Corporation, (USA)

See also


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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.