Conglomeration Rule



The Conglomerate Rule

The 1930s and ’80s have never been closer. Though your first thought was probably to deny any connection between the deeply distant decades, these eras parallel each other more than we would like to admit. Obsessions with underground clubs, flashing lights, and cocaine as well as the looming presence of crashing economics can all be spotted under the glamour (or neon) of the ’20s and the ’80s. More importantly, the film industry had never been more similar.

One of the most fascinating parallels outlined in Holt’s work is that of the monopolies companies formed in the industry throughout both the original Golden Age of film and “Golden Era Redux.” As deregulation was enacted, and Tri-Star made a door opening attempt at a unique trust, for the first time since the ’30s networks fought to control the stream of production, distribution, and content.

A significant movement was that of the Loew’s Corporation and Loew’s Theaters (Cineplex), as they re-entered into distribution. Companies like Paramount, MGM, Fox and Columbia railed against Loew’s claim, knowing that if approved, theater chain like Loew’s could easily pop up as competition to their hold over the film market (Holt, 79).

Flashing forward, it’s interesting to see how another cycle this type of trading and conglomeration has begun again. With merger’s such as the 2017 Fox, Disney buyout it seems a divide or resurgence of the Film industry’s Monopoly game is oncoming.  From theaters to streaming services, distribution of content is still being traded as companies work to create new packages and exclusive rights, trying to force eyes to their screens alone. 

Back to Loews: After much time in money, however, these companies backed off. At this point the main priority shifted from preventing Loew’s approval to defending their own movement, realizing self-regulation was preferable to governmental regulation. But Lowe’s case still encouraged the Justice Department to take another look at consent decrees. At the same time, the Antitrust Divisions set new merger guidelines due to setbacks, moving into reprioritization. As Holt concisely puts it, the appearance of regulation was key in the ’80s as the film industry returned to a monopoly market. Columbia, MCA and Universal bought up theaters Costco style: in bulk. Once again content creators could control who their films could reach to their best advantage. The Golden Age of Film (1920-40), this domination was the norm and the rulers with 20th Century Fox, MGM, and Paramount, (despite Paramount falling behind) the landscape of the ’80s was not new but rather a true resurgence.

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