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.