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Business in Britain in the Twentieth CenturyDecline and Renaissance?$
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Richard Coopey and Peter Lyth

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.001.0001

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The Film Industry in Twentieth Century Britain: Consumption Patterns, Government Regulation, and Firm Strategy

The Film Industry in Twentieth Century Britain: Consumption Patterns, Government Regulation, and Firm Strategy

Chapter:
(p.306) Chapter 16 The Film Industry in Twentieth Century Britain: Consumption Patterns, Government Regulation, and Firm Strategy
Source:
Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century
Author(s):

Peter Miskell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.003.0017

Does the history of the British film industry constitute a story of decline, or of renaissance? It is certainly possible to cast it as a tale of decline. By focussing on the operation of the domestic film industry within Britain from the 1930s onwards, we can chart the emergence of powerful vertically integrated firms under dynamic (and patriotic) British entrepreneurs which, as the post-war decades progressed, reduced their commitment to film production and gradually lost control over film distribution and exhibition as well. However, judging the contemporary film industry in comparison with the 1910s and 1920s, when broadly comparable free market conditions existed, rather than the protectionist 1930s and 1940s, a slightly different picture begins to emerge. In both periods the demand for filmed entertainment within Britain was strong, and most of this demand was satisfied by imported product (much of which was distributed by foreign firms). Rather than a process of steady decline, perhaps we have seen the industry return to something like its existing form before the introduction of Government protection that supported it in its so-called heyday. Except that British film producers are now more competitive than in the pre-1927 period. Had British films been able to command the level of audience share in the 1920s that they have of late, perhaps there would have been no need for protective legislation.

Keywords:   motion picture industry, Britain, history, film consumption, government regulation

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