American Dreams: an Analysis of Non-hollywood Entry Strategies in Motion Picture Production and Distribution, 1895 - 2010

Gerben Bakker (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Abstract : Much of the economics and business literature notes a pronounced decline in entry barriers in many industries over the twentieth century. In the motion picture industry, since the Hollywood studios rose to dominance in the 1920s, many attempts were made to enter and compete with Hollywood, yet almost all strategies that did not involve acquiring an incumbent failed. This paper examines thirty-odd attempts to enter global film production and distribution, most of them post-1920. It analyses and compares the strategies, business plans and business models between firms, countries, and historical eras and tries to explain why most of them failed. The paper is based on painstaking research on sources for each case and includes mostly non-US and mainly European cases. The findings could shed light on the nature of entry barriers, and on the economics of entry and on the formulation business models—i.e. why almost any entrant, even those with almost unlimited capital, excellent management knowledge and business models that looked great on paper, still failed in the end.

“what’s Wrong with the Way I Talk?” the Effect of Sound Motion Pictures on Actor Careers

F. Andrew Hanssen (Clemson University)

Abstract : Economists have long debated the effect of technological innovation on employment. The development of sound motion pictures in the late 1920s provides one of history’s most evocative examples – film historians have long believed that the transition to sound cut short the careers of a number of silent film stars. However, whether this was due to the new technology itself (actor careers are unpredictable at the best of times), and if so, whether more than a small number of famous stars were affected, has not been explored systematically. In this paper, I analyze a data set of nearly 10,000 actors who played in motion pictures from 1920 through 1940, inclusive. I find that the transition period is associated with a substantial increase in career terminations, not only among major stars, but also among more minor actors. However, I also find that sound films raised hazard rates generally, so that whereas the silent era is associated with a hazard rate that is 30-to-50 percent lower than that of the transition period, the sound era it is associated with only a 10 percent lower hazard rate. Finally, I calculate that the total number of actors cast in feature films rose substantially in the sound era (partly reflecting increased demand spurred by the innovation), illustrating the potentially heterogeneous effects of innovation on employment.

Vertical Disintegration in Cable Tv: the Netflix-comcast Rivalry

Thomas W. Hazlett (Clemson University)

Abstract : Vertical integration in cable television markets in the United States has long generated policy controversy. The 1992 Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, bolstering antitrust laws, sought to limit certain vertical arrangements between cable TV systems and cable TV program networks. Network Neutrality regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in three separate orders (2007, 2010, and 2015), barred discrimination (via delivery speeds, etc.) on the basis of content ownership. Due to court proceedings and electoral outcomes, these orders have not been implemented. In 2019, the market is nonetheless increasingly disintegrated. Perhaps most illustrative of this is the rivalrous game played by Comcast, the largest U.S. cable TV system operator, and Netflix, the largest “over-the-top” video supplier. The firms have competed and cooperated, in shifting mixes, over the past decade. Today, Netflix – pioneering OTT models also supplied by Amazon, DISH, Hulu, Roku, Apple, Google and Disney – owns more valuable “cable programming” than any cable TV operator. Understanding how such market forces shape competitive margins is essential to crafting policy rules that support innovation and consumer welfare.

The Imposter in "the Return of Martin Guerre": the Economics/new Institutional Economics of Identity

Janet T. Landa (York University, Canada)

Abstract : The Return of Martin Guerre, a book written by Natalie Zemon Davis (1983) and made into a move, is about a famous legal case in 16th century France where an imposter, Arnaud du Tilh, not only stole the identity of Martin Guerre ---a rich peasant who left his village of Artigat in Southern France and was unheard from for 8 years--but also his wife and his landed property. The wife, even when she knew of Arnaud’s fake identity was unwilling to expose Arnaud because she loved him. Things began to unravel, however, when Arnaud had a property dispute with Pierre Guerre, Martin Guerre’s brother-in-law, who suspected Arnaud as an imposter and sued him in court. Two trials were held. The judge in the first trial ruled that “Martin Guerre” was an imposter and condemned him to death. Arnaud appealed to the Parliament in Toulouse. At the second trial, just as the judge was about to acquit Arnaud of impersonation, in walked a one-legged man, the real Martin Guerre who had lost one of his legs when he went off to war. Arnaud de Tilth was sentenced to death and executed. My paper is divided into two parts. Part I discuss the story of Arnaud posing as Martin Guerre and Arnaud's prodigious memory and knowledge of the details of Martin Guerre’s life and Guerre’s interpersonal relationships with the villagers in Artigat. Part II, analyze this famous legal case, using the Economics/New Institutional Economics of Identity. No. of characters:1,427. (Words: 245) Submitted by Janet T. Landa (Email: And: ) to the “MOVIE AND TV INDUSTRY” panel organized by Janet Landa, Feb. 4, 2019. Final version of Abstract (slightly revised), submitted May 1, 2019.]