CHRONICLE/TIMETABLE OF EVENTS IN FILM DISTRIBUTION HISTORY

1889- Thomas Edison builds the first Motion picture studio.

1902- Henry Miles sets up the first film exchange, allowing exhibitors to rent the films instead of buying them.

1908- Nine leading producers set up the Motion Picture Patents Company, and agree not to sell or lease equipment to any distributors who purchase motion pictures from any other company.

1900-1909, Edison single handedly tried to grab hold of the film business for himself by suing every competitor every time they tried to distribute a movie.

1909 – Carl Laemmle founded the Independent Motion Picture Company disgusted with Edison’s monopoly.

1911 – Credits start to appear in motion pictures.

1912-Carl Laemmle, Pat Powers and Mark Dintenfass merged their studios into what is known as Universal Studios today.

1914- Paramount Pictures is founded – second independent motion picture studio.

1915- William Fox founds Fox Film Corporation, and combines production, distribution and theatres together.

1915-1924- United Artists, Warner Brothers, MGM and Columbia formed as studios.
Late 1920’s- Owners that usually retained control of their studio system, started hiring supervisors to run day to day operations and organization started taking place in a producer unit system that included a general manager, executive manager, producer and supervisors.

1930’s – Hollywood was divided into four groups, majors, minors, “B”studios and independents. All five major studios ran vertically integrated.

Late 1930’s – Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn and David Selznick owned their own studios but started distributing independently and not through the major companies.

Late 1930’s- The federal government accuses the Hollywood majors of restraint of trade by controlling all means of production, distribution and theatres and shutting independents out. The lawsuit was put on hold for war-time reasons.

Mid 1940’s- Government accuses the majors of monopolizing on the best talent and monopolizing on all movies by owning the theatres. The government calls for the studios to break ownership with the theatres.

Late 1940’s- Government forces studios to break ownership an in the next year, the Hollywood major’s break from the theatres.

Late 1940’s- Early 50’s – Sam Speigel became a new pioneer of independent movies among with Orson Welles, He created his own distribution company – Horizon Films, and then founded a production method that is still in use by independent producers today – financing films by pre-selling foreign distribution rights.

Early 1950’s to Late 1950’s- NBC became first nationwide TV network and threatens theater audiences, so studios were forced to find ways to make money on television.

Late 1950’s – Major studios forced to break ownership with the theatres started to fall, the golden age of film had reached it’s peak in the late 30’s and fell in the late 50’s.

Early 1960’s- Major Studios in desperation started financing independent films and the studios were bought up by major conglomerates who invested and traded in the studios.

Early 1960’s- Late 1960’s – American International Pictures, a up and coming production and distribution company, distributed some very popular series of movies, including Roger Corman’s films based on Edgar Allen Poe. American Intl’ Pictures started the genre of marketing films to teenagers. Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro and Francis Ford Coppola got their starts with American Intl’.

Early 1960’s – Late 1960’s – John Cassavetes, considered the father of Independent Film, made courageous new works, such as “Faces” and “Shadows” with no help from financial banks, the major studios. He could not get anyone in America to distribute his film in the US, so he received International help. He did not care for pleasing anyone in monetary standards, a true maverick, only himself.

Late 1960’s, Early 1970’s – Blaxploitation film genres became popular with a commercially successful film by Melvin Van Peebles “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.”. Other notable indie filmmakers at the time that featured blaxploitation were Gordon Parks, William Crain and William Levy. Over 200 films were shown in the 1970’s with black main characters.

1974- Cassavetes independently self distributed his last film “ Under the Influence” that went on to make 16 million dollars.

1975- Steven Speilberg created “Jaws” that caused a comeback by the Majors, started the rise of the Blockbuster movie and the rise of saturation marketing.

1977- George Lucas started the auxillary market by betting his toys from his Star Wars trilogy would fund his movies. The studios had no idea of this profitable and lucrative auxillary market of toys and licensing could be of such benefit to a filmmaker.

1977-79 – Successful independents started that are still successful to this day, Lions Gate Films, Miramax Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

1980’s – Independent Films started gaining large audiences with the works of up and coming directors and distributors, Joel and Ethan Coen, Jim Jarumusch, David Lynch and John Sayles.

1981- Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute, a non- profit organization offering help to up and coming indie directors.

1980’s – A string of popular majors films were created.

1989- Sex, Lies and Videotape by Steve Soderbergh becomes one of the first indie blockbusters with a budget of a million that made 24 million and one of the best investments in indie film to date at that time.

1990-Present to be continued in new blog post..

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4 thoughts on “CHRONICLE/TIMETABLE OF EVENTS IN FILM DISTRIBUTION HISTORY

  1. Totally awesome blog
    I’m learning so much
    and it has all the answers to the questions that I had.
    Thanks!

  2. LOVING THIS WEBSITE…
    IT IS SO INTERESTINGG.. IT TELLS YHU ALOT YHU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HISTORY, AND THE TIMELINE…

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  3. Stumbled on your site — very helpful info. However, you failed to identify the 1948 Paramount decision that broke-up studios control over leading theatre chains. Together with mass adoption of TV, it changed movie business

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