Big Five Agreement

Western Electric and RCA were the main systems on the market. Under the 1930 Paris Agreement, 25% of the UK market was reserved for Tobis sound film fixtures, while 75% were owned by AMERICAN companies. But Tobis ran into technical difficulties because he had allied himself with the small British Phototone and failed to exploit his market share. Several British companies offered cheaper sound outfits, but they offered poor reproduction. British Thomson-Houston (a subsidiary of General Electric) introduced reliable equipment in 1930, but ranked third behind the two American companies in terms of number of cable theatres. Until 1933, all but the smallest British cinemas could reproduce sound. One of the techniques used to support the studio system was block reservation, a system in which several films were sold in one theatre. Such a unit – five films were standard practice for most of the 1940s – generally contained only one particularly remarkable film, the rest a mixture of lower-quality budget A images and B films. [5] As Life magazine wrote in a 1957 retrospective on the studio system: “It wasn`t good entertainment and it wasn`t art and it wasn`t art. , and most of the films produced had uniform mediocrity, but they were also uniformly profitable…

The mediocrity of millions of dollars was the backbone of Hollywood. [6] While many today refer to the May Court`s decision, it was in fact Hughes` agreement with the federal government – signed on November 8, 1948 – that was really the fatal blow of Hollywood`s golden age. Paramount soon capitulated and entered in February following a similar approval order. The studio, which had fought for so long against the divorce, was the first major to get up prematurely and complete the sale on December 31, 1949. At that time, there were 19,000 cinemas in the United States. [7] In addition, foreign sales would decline significantly. At the time, silent films were easily sold abroad. But the dialogues were a different story. The synchronization of a foreign language was still conceived as a project that would take place in the near future. If the studios accepted the sound, it would also apply to musicians who have found a job in the cinemas because they should be laid off. For all these reasons, Hollywood hoped that sound would be a simple thing, but five major studios decided to take action.

The last of the “Big Five” Hollywood conglomerates of the Golden Age was born in 1928: RKO. Radio Corporation of America (RCA), led by David Sarnoff, has been looking for ways to use the newly protected film sound patents by rcA Photophone, owned by its parent company General Electric. When the major film production companies were all preparing to sign exclusive contracts with Western Electric for their technology, RCA entered the film industry itself. In January, General Electric acquired considerable interest in Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), a distributor and small production company of Joseph P. Kennedy, father of future President John F. Kennedy. In October, RCA took control of FBO and the Keith Albee-Orpheum theatre chain through a series of transfers; She merged them into a single company and founded Radio-Keith Orpheum Corporation, and Sarnoff headed the board of directors.