Posted on Feb 15, 2013
By Thomas Hedges, Center for Study of Responsive Law
In 1975, Universal Pictures launched the first nationwide ad campaign for its new film, “Jaws.” Universal avoided marketing its film regionally, as other major studios had been doing. Instead, it organized one major ad campaign, released the film nationally on a single date and raked in most of its profits that weekend, before anyone could say whether the film was worth the money.
Today, all major studios do nationwide releases. After “Jaws,” studios got rid of their regional marketing offices and consolidated them into national headquarters, where films would be distributed to thousands of theaters across the country.
Theaters, in turn, consolidated their spaces. Independent theaters were swallowed up by regional chains, which were then swallowed up by national chains, which were then swallowed up by multinational chains. It became more profitable to have one 20-screen complex rather than 10 two-screen theaters, especially because most people went to see the same few films.
During merger mania, small, independent theaters have struggled to survive as movie studios and multiplex chains spend more and more money promoting conventional cinema. ..................(more)