The birth of movies can be traced to technology developments by Thomas Edison in 1889 and the Lumiere brothers in 1890. Since these early days, advances in film technology in the United States have outpaced all others, and the American film industry has dominated the global market. Given the storied tradition of films, there are some movie questions that need to be answered.
What is a Talkie?
Early movies were very well attended, but their popularity exploded in 1927 when Warner Brothers Studio produced The Jazz Singer, the first motion picture with sound. They executed this by recording the sound on a disc and syncing that sound with the lip movements of the actors. The whole concept worked so well that a year later, Paramount Studios announced that it would only produce “talkies”.
Did Movies Really Have Intermissions?
Movies became a preferred method of entertainment in the 1930’s. There were double features and close to four hour epics like Gone With The Wind. Since people were spending extended periods in the theater, they needed breaks in the action so that they could use the restroom and get refreshments. But these intermissions were not just scheduled so viewers could get refreshed. They were required at the time. You see, early movies were recorded on multiple reels and the intermission allowed the projectionist time to load the second reel.
As technology improved and movies began to get shorter, there was no longer the need for an intermission. As a matter of fact, movie theaters added more shows and tried to get you in and out as quickly as possible in order to maximize profits. Intermissions are still popular in other countries, as theater owners realize that they can offset a box office loss with concession stand sales.
Are Movies Longer?
The average lengths of movies increased consistently reaching a peak of two hours in 1960. As mentioned above, there was a period of decline, but at the turn of the century, the average viewing length returned to two hours. There have been epics in every era, but today, stories like Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and the Twilight Saga, are shown in installments.
Are Today’s Movies Better or Worse?
Many of today’s movie critics believe that movie plots have suffered in an effort to rush movies into circulation. Advanced technology has improved quality but that often comes at a high cost. Attracting customers to theaters using surround sound, 3-D views, and special effects is only half the battle. But never fear. Great stories like those told in Hidden Figures, Fences, LaLa Land, and Manchester By The Sea are bona fide hits, and attendance figures are the proof that quality story lines still exist.
Have Movie Ratings Changed?
From 1930 to 1968, movies were rated according to the Motion Picture Production Code. This code was actually a set of moral standards that was used to censor movies unless certain scenes were edited or cut. This level of control became difficult to enforce and was replaced by the more reasonable Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) system. These standards rate movies for their suitability for particular audiences based on the portrayal of sex, violence, and profanity. Many children’s advocates complain that the reviewers have become too lenient, but the MPAA states that their ratings reflect current societal norms and mores.
Have Movie Ticket Sales Declined?
A 2014 Newsweek article reported that the number of movie-goers was the fewest in two decades, and that industry ticket sales declined by 300 million in the most recent two-year period. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that people are not watching movies, it does indicate that they are viewing them in a different way. Home viewing has increased since streaming sites are much cheaper than theaters and flexibility of streaming better accommodates the need to binge your favorite stories or watch them in short bursts.
Hopefully, this information has answered your unique movie questions. You will likely have others as trends change in the future. For those answers, you’ll just need to stay tuned.