From Program Shorts to Mutual Masterpictures: Cost Control as a Macroscale Production Strategy at 4500 Sunset Boulevard, 1914–15

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Abstract

This essay applies a scaled data set of archival cost ledgers from the Majestic plant at 4500 Sunset Boulevard to the question of macroscale production control in the American film industry during the late one-reel/early feature period. The documents show that Majestic budgeted multiple-reel features according to cost percentages very similar to those of its one- and two-reel shorts, making them substantially cheaper than the films on competing feature programs. Mutual then marketed its features in distribution by advertising nationally and offering flexible, nonprogram booking arrangements. These findings suggest that with the aid of distribution strategies, program-oriented producers like Mutual could scale up shorts production to feature length in order to compete on the nascent market for program features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-104
Number of pages29
JournalFilm History: An International Journal
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Accounting
  • Distribution
  • Early cinema
  • Features
  • Hollywood studio system
  • Komic
  • Majestic
  • Mutual
  • Production control
  • Reliance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History

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