Get your thinking caps on and your calculators out - John Sedgwick is taking another look at the British film industry.
Due to the lack of hard financial evidence on the popularity of films in this period many critics have swallowed whole the assertion made by American-owned distribution companies that audience disliked British films protected by the quota. Sedgwick examines what data exists and extrapolates from it a picture of cinemagoing between 1932 and 1937.
By taking a sample of cinemas nationally and examining what films were being exhibited in them he creates a broad outline of audience preferences. He then looks in detail at the cinemas of Bolton and Brighton and compares them with the national picture.
After compiling his core data he then examines which stars and genres were most popular in this period, and which films were the most profitable. Perhaps the most interesting section compares the popularity and budgets of various studios' output. This helps contrast British films with their reputation for cheapness and the average Hollywood budget. From this we can see that the best of British was comparable to Warner Brothers' output.
There's also a fascinating chapter dealing with the attempts by British studios to break into the US market.
Sedgwick comes from the viewpoint that cinema is first and foremost an industry. It's this, and his empirical methodology, that distinguishes this from most film histories. It's essential reading for anyone researching British filmgoing.
Pub: University of Exeter Press
ISBN: 0 85989 660 9