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Stardom and the Profitability of Film Making: Warner Bros. in the 1930s

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  • Michael Pokorny
  • John Sedgwick
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    Abstract

    This paper examines the film production performance of Warner Bros. during the 1930s, placing particular emphasis on the manner in which Warners invested in stars. Warners are shown to have acted rationally in the sense of having consistently invested in previously successful actors. An assessment is then made of how successful such a strategy proved to be. Drawing a distinction between high and medium/low budget production, the deployment of established stars in high budget productions did not appear to have constituted a successful strategy. The production of medium/low budget films, by contrast, provided a more stable environment, in which there were clear returns to the deployment of previously successful actors. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1023/A:1010964032248
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Cultural Economics.

    Volume (Year): 25 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 3 (August)
    Pages: 157-184

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jculte:v:25:y:2001:i:3:p:157-184

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100284

    Related research

    Keywords: film industry; portfolio theory; risk; stardom;

    References

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    1. Darlene C. Chisholm, 1993. "Asset Specificity and Long-Term Contracts: The Case of the Motion-Pictures Industry," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 143-155, Spring.
    2. De Vany, Arthur & Walls, W David, 1996. "Bose-Einstein Dynamics and Adaptive Contracting in the Motion Picture Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(439), pages 1493-1514, November.
    3. Sedgwick, John & Pokorny, Michael, 1998. "The Risk Environment of Film Making: Warner Bros in the Inter-War Years," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 196-220, April.
    4. Steven Albert, 1998. "Movie Stars and the Distribution of Financially Successful Films in the Motion Picture Industry," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 249-270, December.
    5. Arthur De Vany & W. Walls, 1999. "Uncertainty in the Movie Industry: Does Star Power Reduce the Terror of the Box Office?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 285-318, November.
    6. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
    7. Hamlen, William A, Jr, 1994. "Variety and Superstardom in Popular Music," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(3), pages 395-406, July.
    8. Hamlen, William A, Jr, 1991. "Superstardom in Popular Music: Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 729-33, November.
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