Art & Photography Books:

In Theaters Everywhere

A History of the Hollywood Wide Release, 1913-2017


Paperback / softback

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In Theaters Everywhere by Brian Hannan

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For over a century a vicious business war has been waged in Hollywood between studios and exhibitors. At stake, shares in what has now become a multi-billion-dollar business. Both sides were poor losers, exhibitors bringing down the wrath of law on studios via various Consent Decrees, studios fighting back by more tightly controlling output. At the heart of this battle lay distribution: how films should be released; where, when and at what speed. In the silent era few prints were made, movies running for a week or less, working their way down a hierarchial ranking of theaters, taking a year or more to get round America. This is the untold story of how the few became the many, of the contraction of the release cycle, of the maximizing of the marketing dollar, and of the democratization of consumer access, until these days instant wide release worldwide is taken for granted. The Jazz Singer (1927) was one trigger for change, another the growth of world premieres held in tiny towns in far-flung states on the back of the location filming boom in the 1930s that in turn led to the regional wide release. Sci-fi/horror pictures that would be quickly condemned by negative word-of-mouth in the 1950s spurred Hollywood to get them into as many theaters as possible as quickly as possible. As movie budgets ballooned in the 1970s and 1980s, it became necessary to stop releasing major movies in relatively small numbers of theaters, and as movies become only one part of a longer ancillary tail essential to open them in many thousands of theaters. This book explodes myths relating to wide release patterns employed for Duel in the Sun in the 1940s, Elvis Presley and Hercules in the 1950s, Jaws and Star Wars in the 1970s and shows that, contrary to current thinking, movies were instantly released in as many as 500 theaters in the 1930s and over 1,000 in the 1950s.

Author Biography

Brian Hannan specializes in films of the 1960s and Hitchcock. He writes a regular column for Cinema Retro magazine and lives in Scotland.
Release date NZ
October 30th, 2018
100 photographs
Country of Publication
United States
McFarland & Co Inc
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