Synopses & Reviews
is the story of how the business of film libraries emerged and evolved, spanning the silent era to the sale of feature libraries to television. Eric Hoyt argues that film libraries became valuable not because of the introduction of new technologies but because of the emergence and growth of new markets, and suggests that studying the history of film libraries leads to insights about their role in the contemporary digital marketplace.
The history begins in the mid-1910s, when the star system and other developments enabled a market for old films that featured current stars. After the transition to films with sound, the reissue market declined but the studios used their libraries for the production of remakes and other derivatives. The turning point in the history of studio libraries occurred during the mid to late 1940s, when changes in American culture and an industry-wide recession convinced the studios to employ their libraries as profit centers through the use of theatrical reissues. In the 1950s, intermediary distributors used the growing market of television to harness libraries aggressively as foundations for cross-media expansion, a trend that continues today. By the late 1960s, the television marketplace and the exploitation of film libraries became so lucrative that they prompted conglomerates to acquire the studios.
The first book to discuss film libraries as an important and often underestimated part of Hollywood history, Hollywood Vault presents a fascinating trajectory that incorporates cultural, legal, and industrial history.
"Many people are busy trying to figure out the value of film libraries online. Eric Hoyt approaches the question by looking at the earliest decades of the American film industry. In the process, he gives us a new framework for thinking about studio libraries and film historiography. Rather than provide a linear history of technological development, this deeply researched story charts the ups and downs of film libraries as they were subjected to legal, economic, and larger market forces. This is both a groundbreaking historical study and a map for future research." and#151;Peter Decherney, author of Hollywoodand#8217;s Copyright Wars: from Edison to the Internet
"We now take for granted that the 'aftermarket' for movies is far more important commercially, and perhaps even culturally, than theatrical releaseand#151;that the and#147;long tailand#8221; of TV and home video and digital streaming now wags the dog. In this groundbreaking book, Eric Hoyt provides us with an incisive, in-depth, and invaluable backstory to this crucial industry development, explaining how and why the studio vaults of seemingly worthless old movies steadily transformed into libraries of untold worth."
and#151;Thomas Schatz, author of Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s
About the Author
Eric Hoyt is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-director of the Media History Digital Library. He designed, developed, and produced the MHDLand#8217;s search and visualization platform, Lantern, which received the 2014 Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables
1. The Triangle Frauds and the Birth of the Film Library (1910s)
2. Side Business (1920s)
3. Derivatives and Destruction (1930s)
4. Postwar Profit Center (1940s)
5. Negotiating Television (1950s)
6. Seven Arts and Industry Transformation (1960s)