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The decline and fall of the European film industry: sunk costs, market size and market structure, 1890-1927

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  • Gerben Bakker

Abstract

In the 1900s, the European film industry exported throughout the world, at times supplying half the US market. By 1920, however, European films had virtually disappeared from America, and had become marginal in Europe. Theory on sunk costs and market structure suggests that an escalation of sunk costs during a rapid US growth phase resulted in increased concentration; eight surviving companies dominated international film production and distribution forever after. European film companies, although overall profitable, could not take part, and after the war could not catch up. US, British and French time series data for 1890-1930 support the theory.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22366/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 22366.

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Length: 76 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22366

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Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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  1. John Sutton, 1997. "One Smart Agent," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 605-628, Winter.
  2. Gerben Bakker, 2003. "Building Knowledge about the Consumer: The Emergence of Market Research in the Motion Picture Industry," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(1), pages 101-127.
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Cited by:
  1. Klaus Rennings & Peter Markewitz & Stefan Vögele, 2013. "How clean is clean? Incremental versus radical technological change in coal-fired power plants," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 331-355, April.
  2. Gerben Bakker, 2012. "Sunk costs and the dynamics of creative industries," Economic History Working Papers 49081, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  3. Gerben Bakker, 2007. "Structural change and the growth contribution of services: how motion pictures industrialized US spectator entertainment," Economic History Working Papers 22314, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  4. Gerben Bakker, 2007. "The evolution of entertainment consumption and the emergence of cinema, 1890-1940," Economic History Working Papers 22316, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  5. Gerben Bakker, 2012. "Adopting the rights-based model: music multinationals and local music industries since 1945," Economic History Working Papers 47507, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  6. Gerben Bakker, 2004. "At the origins of increased productivity growth in services. Productivity, social savings and the consumer surplus of the film industry, 1900-1938," Economic History Working Papers 22348, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

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