Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

Read and write messages for me!

 About Me
 World News
 ICQ Chat
 Contact Me





Now Watch TV Online for free with my new site -

Click Here to return to the previous page


Paul Sparks - Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for "Culture of English Speaking Countries Lessons" for Xiangtan Normal University...




The American Movie Industry

Sources of Information: , , and 


  • Photo of Ronald Reagan, who was a famous actor in the 1950's before becoming president in the 1980's.

  • By the early 1920s, Hollywood had become the world's film capital. It produced virtually all films show in the United States and received 80 percent of the revenue from films shown abroad. During the '20s, Hollywood attracted many of Europe's most talented actors and actresses. By the end of the decade, Hollywood claimed to be the nation's fifth largest industry, attracting 83 cents out of every dollar Americans spent on amusement.

  • During the 1920s, movie attendance was very high. By the middle of the decade, 50 million people a week went to the movies - the equivalent of half the nation's population.

  • The theaters which were used by the middle class were quite different. Late in the new century's first decade, theaters in downtown or middle class neighborhoods became increasingly luxurious. At first many of these theaters were designed in the same styles as many other public buildings.

  • The film industry changed radically after World War II, and this change altered the style and content of the films made in Hollywood. After experiencing boom years from 1939 to 1946, the film industry began a long period of decline. Within just seven years, attendance and box receipts fell to half their 1946 levels. Families with babies tended to listen to the radio rather than go to the movies; college students placed studying before seeing the latest film; and newlyweds purchasing homes, automobiles, appliances, and other commodities had less money to spend on movies.

  • Then, too, especially after 1950, television challenged and surpassed the movies as America's most popular entertainment form. In 1940, there were just 3,785 TV sets in the United States. Two decades later, nine homes in every ten had at least one TV set. For preceding Americans, clothing styles, speech patterns, and even moral attitudes and political points of view had been shaped by the movies.

  • Hollywood began produced movies that explored disturbing changes in the lives of American youth. Films such as The Wild One (1954), Blackboard Jungle (1955), and Rebel Without a Cause (1955) portrayed adolescents as criminals.

  • As the 1960s began, the movie industry grew quickly. Among the most popular films at the start of the decade were Doris Day romantic comedies like That Touch of Mink (1962) and epic blockbusters like The Longest Day (1962), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and Cleopatra (1963).

  • By the early 1960s, an estimated 80 percent of the film-going population was between the ages of 16 and 25. At first, the major studios largely ignored this audience, leaving it the hands of smaller studios like American International Pictures. Two films released in 1967--Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate--awoke Hollywood to the size and influence of the youth audience. Bonnie and Clyde, the story of two depression era bank robbers, was advertised with the slogan: "They're young, they're in love, they kill people." Inspired by such French New Wave pictures as Breathless (1960), the film aroused intense controversy for romanticizing gangsters and transforming them into social rebels. A celebration of youthful rebellion also appeared in The Graduate, which was the third-highest grossing film up until this time. In this film, a young college graduate rejects a hypocritical society and the traditional values of his parents--and the promise of a career in "plastics"--and finds salvation in love. 

  • The most popular films of the late 1970s and early 1980s were escapist blockbusters like Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)-- featuring spectacular special effects, action, and simplistic conflicts between good and evil--inspirational tales of the indomitable human spirit, like Rocky (1976).

  • Many of the major studios were acquired by large media and entertainment corporations, like Sony, which purchased Columbia Pictures, Time Warner, and Rupert Murdoch, whose holdings include HarperCollins publishers, the Fox television network, and Twentieth Century Fox. At the same time that these large entertainment conglomerates arose, many smaller independent producers like Lorimar and De Laurentiis, disappeared. 

  • Hollywood Today has increased the amount of family entertainment it offers, including feature-length cartoons like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast; family comedies, like Honey I Shrunk the Kids; and positive portrayals of the teaching profession, like Dead Poet's Society and Stand and Deliver. 

  • Many Americans worry about Hollywood's future, complaining that "they don't make movies like they used to." A basic problem facing today's Hollywood is the rapidly rising cost of making and marketing a movie: an average of $40 million today. The immense cost of producing movies has led the studios to seek guaranteed hits: blockbuster loaded with high-tech special effects, sequels, and remakes of earlier movies, foreign films, and even old TV shows. 

  • Founded in 1912, Universal Studios is the oldest continuously operating film company in the United States and one of the oldest studios in the world. Over the years, Universal has gone through many changes, from a family operation in its early days to a multi-media conglomerate today, incorporating many facets of the entertainment industry, including motion pictures, television, music, theme parks, and live entertainment.

Click Here to Return to Top of Page