The True Story of the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood
Before the television arrived in almost every family home, movies were once king in the United States.
By consolidating all the talent and resources in the filmmaking industry, Hollywood became the center of movie-making, and it produced about 350 movies in a year.
Before the 1870s, the Hollywood area was mainly farmland. The industry actually took off after the great depression (1929-1939). Some say it’s because the movie theater became the place where audience members could escape from reality.
In 1927, silent films were transformed into “talkies” starting with “The Jazz Singer,” by Warner Bros., and movies haven’t been the same since.
This time period became known as the Golden Age of Hollywood, when every movie was made in Hollywood (1927-1948/1949), including great classics such as “Casablanca,” “Citizen Kane,” many musicals by Shirley Temple, etc.
At that time, every stage of filmmaking, from development, production, distribution, and exhibition, became controlled by the “Big Five” studios: MGM, Warners Brothers, Fox, RKO, and Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.
Each of these studios also owned its own theater chain across the U.S., and they started to require distributors to buy packages of films. This system was called “block booking.”
For example, before the theater could play “Gone with the Wind,” the biggest box office draw of all time (considering inflation), it would need to buy other less popular films and cartoon shorts at the same time.
Prior to World War II (1939-1945), the movie industry was accused of playing monopoly, and a Supreme Court ruling in 1948 finally ended the block booking system.
Due to many factors, such as baby boomers moving to the suburbs and away from big cities, theaters started to lose customers, which resulted in the film industry going downhill. Then television took over people’s lives, and moviegoers began to dwindle even further.