Publicity and Promotion
Publicity and PromotionFUNDAMENTALS OF FILM ADVERTISING
CONSOLIDATING THE SYSTEM: THE ADVERTISING CODE
PUBLICITY AND THE FILM STAR
Hollywood creates its illusions through both its films and its publicity, mythologizing in its idealistic images of films and their stars. While sometimes the industry flaunts its promotional muscle, its publicity departments have generally operated in a more self-effacing manner, presenting the glamour of movies and their stars as natural, not created and hyped. Throughout much of the silent period and the classical era (approximately 1930–1955), studios managed to control their stars' images through a variety of means including morality clauses in contracts and careful publicity. This changed in the 1950s with the advent of television, the collapse of the studio system, the federally-mandated separation of the studios from their theater chains, and the court decision that the standard seven-year star contract was unconstitutional. The weakened film industry faced attacks from independent scandal magazines like the notorious Hollywood Confidential that used tabloid techniques to pierce carefully constructed images. To get television-watching audiences back into theaters, the industry touted its big pictures with equally big advertising campaigns, filled with stunts and gimmicks to capture public attention. Meanwhile, the growth of independent publicists, talent agents, and promotional opportunities outside the fading studio system allowed some aggressive would-be stars to make a brief impact. Perhaps chief among these was Jayne Mansfield (1933–1967), whose talent for self-promotion led to her short-lived stardom and added resonance to her performance in Twentieth Century Fox's satire of the advertising, film, and television industries, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957).
Although Hollywood confronted its declining power by diverting most of its publicity resources to select films, the tactics it used to advertise them and to promote its stars did not change much from the silent era. Most of the important promotional tactics that exist today—trailers, print advertisements, press books, posters, promotional tie-ins, star premieres—were in place by 1915, although their forms have changed since then. Some strategies used during the height of the classical era have disappeared: stars no longer travel to theaters across the United States to make promotional appearances in support of new films, and studios no longer run official star fan clubs or mail glamour shots of stars to fans. Changes in studio publicity have responded to new media, such as Internet and television advertising, and to shifts in cinema demographics. As movies increasingly became a medium for young adults rather than families during the 1950s and 1960s, film companies marketed pop music soundtracks on records and then CDs. Even then, this was not so much a change as a shift in emphasis, as sheet music had promoted movies since the silent era.
From early stunts to later sophisticated and standardized publicity, film advertising has capitalized on the audience's desire for the latest novelties and for familiar stars, stories, and comforting images. Promotions helped the film industry survive such catastrophic events as the Depression and the rise of television. Publicity has even constituted a large part of cinema's appeal—from the posters, lobby cards, and promotional memorabilia that have become collectors' items to the contests of the silent and classical era and the fast-food novelties and tie-in ring-tones of today.
The film industry did not advertise its movies directly to the general public until around 1913, late for a large, consumer-oriented industry. When films first emerged as novelties in the late nineteenth century, pioneering companies like Edison, Biograph, Lumière and Pathé were initially more interested in selling machines. Their movies were not advertised to the public but listed in catalogs that described content and listed price. Exhibitors devised their own promotions and stunts, some of which—like contests and giveaways—influenced the studio publicity that followed.
The emergence of the nickelodeon around 1905 fundamentally changed the film industry and its advertising strategies. As the number of these first cheap movie theaters exploded during the nickelodeon boom (1905–1907), exhibitors started advertising to fight off competition, whereas producers battled alleged patent infringement in court to force competitors out of business. Exhibitors draped homemade posters outside their theater facades, hired barkers to shout about their program, distributed homemade flyers, and borrowed publicity stunts from the likes of P. T. Barnum (1810–1891). They did not, however, advertise in the press, largely because it was too expensive.
From about 1908, exhibitors produced their own weekly or monthly bulletins, listing forthcoming attractions, providing information about their theaters, films, and promotions, alongside local news and local advertisements. The film-related content of these bulletins increased between 1905 and 1913, focusing more on plots, sets, performers, and the inner workings of studios. From around 1910, these materials came directly from trade papers such as The Moving Picture World or from studio publications such as the Essanay News, which increasingly offered audience-friendly information about movies, actors, and forthcoming productions. Some studio bulletins even contained pages that could be cut out and used as posters. By 1914, the public could purchase these periodicals at theaters, a development emphasizing the studios' greater interest in promoting their films and actors to the general public. These studio publications and distributor magazines such as Mutual's Reel Life became more and more like the fan magazines and the pressbooks used to coordinate the publicity of a single film.
By 1913, major changes in film publicity were underway. That year, two relatively new but important companies, Mutual and Universal, formed advertising departments staffed with major New York executives to promote their films directly to the public for the first time. The November 1913 full-page advertisement for Mutual's serial, Our Mutual Girl (1914), in the Saturday Evening Post (circulation, over two million) was the first of its kind to be targeted toward the American public. Both companies set up poster departments and commissioned artists create in-house styles that would distinguish their releases from those of other companies—something later emulated by Hollywood studios. These early advertising and poster departments established practices that continued into the classical era: they supplied theaters with posters, provided them with tie-ins, and offered suggestions for motion picture exploitation (stunts, theater decoration, contests, and the like). Other major studios quickly followed suit: in 1915, MGM hired famous illustrators for their newly-formed poster department and that same year Paramount opened its exploitation department, offering posters, lobby cards, displays, tie-ins, and ideas for stunts. Although stunts appeared spontaneous and novel, they were often studio-designed. Studios encouraged exhibitors to organize beauty contests, competitions, parades, and so forth to support their films, which turned the lobby where audiences waited between shows into one of the most important promotional spaces.
Newspaper and magazine advertising—again pioneered by Mutual and Universal—also started in 1913, winning over a medium that had previously regarded movies with hostility. From then on, press advertising was a vital component of any film's publicity campaign. Studios provided newspapers with press releases and carefully-drafted promotional stories about their stars and new releases. In turn, major press syndicates like Hearst or the Tribune Company started working with the studios, even collaborating with them to produce serial films like The Perils of Pauline (1914), and reprinting their stories each week. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood established a similarly close relationship with radio. Stations promoted films by playing their theme songs and presenting abridged movies or full scenes from current releases (sometimes featuring the original actors) on shows like Lux Radio Theater (NBC, 1934–1935; CBS, 1935–1955; sponsored by the soap manufacturer) and Cavalcade of Stars (DuMont, 1949–1952). Besides reorienting the address of film publicity towards the public, these advertising strategies helped improve cinema's cultural standing. Newspapers no longer attacked the film industry but promoted its stars, studios, and new releases. This transformation cemented the industry's new, clean, middle-class image, which its publicity departments strenuously fought to maintain through the classical era. This required constant work, with studios investing most of their resources in controlling the information disseminated about their stars, creative personnel, and the production process.
Advertising for each individual film was another important component of studio publicity. Each film's ad campaign was distilled into a pressbook, which was sent out to exhibitors with the film itself. Pressbooks first appeared in 1913 for George Kleine's imported Italian feature Quo Vadis? (1912) and were quickly used for all movies, no matter how small their budgets. Everything an exhibitor needed to advertise the film was either in the pressbook or available through it for a small cost (colored posters and cardboard displays cost extra). Throughout the classical period, the pressbook was twelve to thirty pages long, filled with fake newspaper stories, photos, fashion displays, ideas for stunts, and free black and white posters. Newspapers also received pressbooks and were encouraged to reprint their featured articles, stories, reviews and photographs.
Pressbooks listed all the available tie-ins for each film. These were (and are) merchandise related in some way to the film—often branded goods, toys, copies of clothes seen in the film, sheet music, soundtrack recordings—or items only tenuously related to it, such as perfume. Serials presented some of the first opportunities for tie-ins, with magazines, dress patterns, cosmetics, and dolls among the most popular. Tie-ins soon took a variety of forms, from copies of designer gowns to soda cups, all designed to help bring the consumer closer to a favorite film or to preserve the movie experience. Essentially glorified advertisements, these goods capitalized on cinema's intimate appeal to the public, the attraction of its stars as role models, the screen's resemblance to the shop window, and the glamour of Hollywood.
Tie-ins proliferate today. Some of the most popular and long-lived products include Shirley Temple and Gone with the Wind dolls and Max Factor cosmetics, which have been in constant production since the 1930s. Most have been aimed at women and children, although some tie-ins target men, such as the branded merchandise associated with sports films and westerns. Fashion offered particularly lucrative tie-in possibilities: throughout the 1930s, Macy's carried studio-approved replicas of movie star gowns that capitalized on viewers' identification with films and their stars. Film companies submitted sketches to garment manufacturers as far as a year ahead of a picture's release to ensure hats and dresses would be in stores when their movies premiered (see Eckert). This practice seemingly violated the film industry's own Advertising Code, which limited advertising in pictures, indicating that movies were not seen as ads for these gowns. Bloomingdale's recently revived this trend, presenting window displays in the company's flagship New York store on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue for Moulin Rouge (2001), Down With Love (2003) and The Phantom of the Opera (2004). These were not copies of clothes from the films but were instead everyday items "inspired" by their stylized looks.
Film trailers also appeared very early on—around 1912—although they did not become standard for several years. More than any other publicity device, trailers responded to changes in film length and budget: they were not appropriate for short films that only played for a single day. For both serials and feature films, trailers were used to create anticipation and stimulate advance ticket sales. Trailers gradually became longer in the post-classical period when fewer films were produced and the double bill became a thing of the past. Classical-era trailers generally consisted of a male voice-over narrating clips from the film, with on-screen text superimposed over the image using hard-sell tag-lines and superlatives to sell the picture. These trailers generally relied more on the voice-over than on the visuals from the film.
By the 1950s, trailers primarily showcased footage from each film, although voice-overs remained. In keeping with the post-classical mandate requiring films to be individually marketed, trailers focused on the unique qualities of each film, which encouraged experimentation. By the 1960s, some trailers were highly stylized, emphasizing mood over story. For example, the ad executive Stephen O. Frankfurt's trailer for Rosemary's Baby (1968) bypassed the film's plot, featuring a silhouette of a baby carriage, accompanied by eerie crying and the tag line: "Pray for Rosemary's Baby." The trailer for Real Life (Albert Brooks, 1979) featured no footage from the film but instead used an ersatz 3-D comic vignette of its director-star directly addressing the audience about the realism of his forthcoming film. By the 1980s, this kind of experimentation was on the wane with trailers again emphasizing stars, action, and narrative. Since then, some trailers have even revealed the film's twist, as with What Lies Beneath (2000), which showed that Harrison Ford's character was the villain—something ad execs justified as the film's unique selling point.
By the late teens, advertising was largely studio-controlled, setting the pace for the classical era. Although exhibitors could still design their own publicity if they wished, the elaborate campaigns studios set out in their pressbooks, trailers, posters, and other forms of print advertising were hard to decline. By the mid-1930s, after the film industry consolidated its control over publicity with its Advertising Code, exhibitors had to use the studios' advertising. Like film censorship, this code arose out of the problems the industry faced during the Depression. As audiences declined and most of the studios faced financial trouble, moralists from groups like the Legion of Decency charged the industry with offering salacious and violent films, accompanied by posters of scantily clad starlets and sometimes racy copy. Theaters—especially the smaller, independent houses not owned by major studios—posed another problem for the industry as they desperately tried to retain Depression-strapped audiences. Exhibitors offered cash games (Bank Night, Lotto), distributed free groceries and other gifts, and offered two—or three—movies for the price of one. These stunts angered both moralists and studio executives, who were particularly upset by the cash games, which violated banking and gaming statutes. Although studios no longer trusted independent exhibitors to devise their own advertising, one of their innovations—the double bill—survived, becoming a classical institution.
Groups like the Legion of Decency attacked movies and their advertising, organizing protests outside theaters to scare away audiences. The industry could not afford these losses in a time of severe fiscal crisis and set up a large-scale public relations effort to improve their image and offset the threat of federal censorship and regulation. The instigation of film censorship through the Production Code Administration (PCA) in the early 1930s was part of this effort. Another facet of this self-imposed moral crackdown applied strictly to publicity. The Advertising Code of 1930 was operated under the auspices of the PCA and had offices in New York and Hollywood, the industry's business and creative centers. It asserted the film industry's belief in "truth in advertising" and the maintenance of good taste. The Advertising Code Administration (ACA) was first headed by John J. McCarthy, a film publicity man, until his death in1937, and then by Gordon White, another experienced motion picture advertising man. As with the censorship of the Hays Office, the Advertising Code extended the industry's control over its business operations, requiring independent exhibitors to use the industry's own approved advertising materials.
The Code testified to the importance of film advertising as a social and cultural force—both for Hollywood and the general public. All advertising had to be submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), whose president had the final say. Under the Code, advertisements could not be misleading, false, or quote dialogue out of context. They had to conform to the broader tenets of the Production Code—thus nudity, salacious poses, violence, and profanity were banned, and publicity could not capitalize upon text referring to any censorship or litigation a film might have experienced. Posters had to respect religion, patriotism, other nations, the law, and the police. In March 1935, the MPPDA established a fine of $1,000–$5,000 for violations, but complaints were few and revisions rare. The most notable exception came late in the ACA's history. In 1946, The Outlaw (1943) lost its Production Code Seal (required for public exhibition) because its notorious images of Jane Russell's breasts violated the Advertising Code. Significantly, this was not a studio production, but the picture was still shown, indicating the majors' waning power. Today, there is no Advertising Code, but trailers are industry-regulated. Ratings depend on the film's rating and that of the movie it precedes, with the MPAA recommending all trailers avoid excessive sex, violence, and drug use.
Classical-era advertising did not involve major changes, but rather, consolidated earlier strategies. The industry's control over film advertising faded with the 1948 Supreme Court decision in the Paramount Case finding the major studios in violation of antitrust laws, an event that marked the beginning of the end for classical Hollywood and severed studios from their theater chains. With the rise of television and declining demand for films, theaters increasingly offered a more stripped-down experience. The studios' loss of total control allowed outside intervention in shaping the image of films and stars—especially through the new scandal magazines—just as it opened up independent production and limited studios' control over exhibition. Some changes in advertising—including the appearance of the television spot—arose in response to these post-classical developments. Pressbooks became less important, as many newspapers closed during the post-World War II years. Pressbooks' fake newspaper stories and suggestions for stunts practically disappeared, along with most of their more excessive and exuberant features. Pressbooks today are simple folders printed with the film's promotional images and filled with photos of the cast and a few press releases on the film, its director, and stars. Lobby cards gradually vanished and fewer posters were produced for each film, with photography gradually replacing the original art typical of the silent and classical eras.
By the mid- to late-1950s, stunts reappeared at the margins of the industry, particularly in the low-budget releases aimed at youth audiences. As most films were now marketed as individual entities, studios tried to make each release stand out, using star-studded premieres to boost a movie or, alternatively, masterminding a stunt like that of Marilyn Monroe reenacting the famous skirt scene from The Seven Year Itch (1955) for the international media. Independent producer-directors like William Castle (1914–1977) became notorious for exploitation campaigns that often overshadowed their films. His gimmicks combined older, Barnumesque theater-centered stunts with the promise of heightened visceral realism associated with the period's new movie technologies (like 3-D and Cinerama). Even major studio campaigns used stunts to create new cinematic experiences: the print ads, trailers, posters, and television spots for Psycho (1960) proclaimed that viewers would not be admitted ten minutes after the film started, focusing attention on the first scenes, a tactic that made Marion Crane's death even more shocking. Before Psycho, audiences were reportedly less likely to watch a film from the very start, thus its advertising marked a post-classical shift in reception, singling out the individual film as a distinct event.
By the early 1970s, promotional budgets sometimes exceeded a film's production costs. As new technologies change the ways in which films are viewed, from television, to video, to DVDs and digital downloads, they have also changed promotions, many of them using a number of media platforms.
b. William Schloss, New York, New York, 24 April 1914, d. 31 May 1977
William Castle, the American film producer-director, was notorious for his inventive, humorous, and often excessive film promotions. Not only Hollywood's most famous showman, he also revolutionized film advertising.
After directing B-pictures for Columbia and Universal, including the acclaimed film noir, When Strangers Marry (1944), Castle came into his own when the studio system collapsed and films had to be marketed individually. He surrounded his low-budget films with inventive stunts that made each movie a unique event. Castle later became an independent producer, forming Susina Associates in 1957 to make five successful low-budget horror films that represented the apex of his gimmickry. For Macabre (1958), he purchased from Lloyd's of London $1,000 of Fright Insurance for each patron in case audience members should die of fear. House on Haunted Hill (1959) featured Emerg-O, inflatable skeletons that flew over the audience; 13 Ghosts (1960) was shown in Illusion-O, with glasses offered to help audiences see its onscreen ghosts, while Homicidal (1961) had a Fright Break when cowardly audience members could leave and get their money back.
Castle's exploitation strategies reached their most baroque with the infamous Percepto in connection with The Tingler (1959). He had every tenth seat in theaters where the film showed in the first run wired with army surplus electrical motors that were activated when the tingler—a parasite that fed off human fear—escapes into a movie theater in the film's story. The film also featured several announcements by Vincent Price, the first of which was accompanied by one of Castle's favorite gimmicks—a (planted) woman who fainted.
Although Castle would later insure the life of the cockroach star of Bug (1975) for $1 million, he changed his promotional tactics in the mid-1960s when he signed with Paramount in 1966 to make more upmarket pictures, including Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968). Castle now focused more on public relations, producing news releases for local television stations and leaking out information during production rather than creating theatrical stunts. He capitalized on the fame of the star, Mia Farrow, by inviting the press to watch Vidal Sassoon cut her hair for Rosemary's Baby for the fee of $5,000—a gesture that echoed earlier media furor over one of Farrow's haircuts. The film also had its own groundbreaking signature advertising campaign, which featured an unusually elliptical and suggestive trailer.
Castle replaced the self-effacing advertising of the classical era of film with promotional tactics that were often greater attractions than his movies. In so doing, he revived the showman for a more knowing generation, often capitalizing on audiences' desire to be in on the joke.
As Director: Macabre (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Tingler (1959), 13 Ghosts (1960), Homicidal (1961); As Producer: Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Castle, William. Step Right Up! I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America. New York: Pharos Books, 1992.
Heffernan, Kevin. Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1958–1968. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.
Perhaps the most famous advertising campaign of the Internet era was for Artisan's ultra-low budget video
feature, The Blair Witch Project (1999). Tease sites were up months before the film's July 1999 release, based on a simple but ingenious premise—the claim that the film was true, taped by protagonists killed in the process of investigating a local urban legend. The film's official Web site stressed its authenticity with "newscasts" and grainy digital photographs of police "evidence," including abandoned cameras, film, and video cassettes. Before its release, the Internet Movie Database even listed its principal actors as "missing, presumed dead." Adding to the pre-release media synergy, the Sci-Fi Channel aired the Curse of the Blair Witch, a one-hour Blair "documentary."
Although Blair Witch became known as the first major Internet campaign and was arguably the first film whose advertising was more important than the movie, it did not radically change the way films were marketed. Although the film set attendance records and reportedly caused directors and producers to demand Internet campaigns, it depended on novelty and timing. Indeed, some advertising and Internet strategists suggested the film itself was of marginal importance, and that the real pleasure involved the viewer's movement between media, particularly the constant return to the Web.
Post-Blair Witch film Web sites acted more as traditional anchors, as places where viewers could download trailers, find information on cast and crew, and play games. Most subsequent efforts to create an elaborate Internet ad campaign have received little attention, as with the publicity for A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). Prior to its release, the film was surrounded with secrecy. Unusual for a summer blockbuster, nothing much was known about the film other than its stars, director, source material, and its history as a Kubrick-developed project. While the film's marketing strategy of secrecy and false leads—releasing a false scene-by-scene narrative breakdown to aint-it-cool-news.com and Web sites spreading false information about the film—resembled that of a Kubrick release, other aspects of its marketing were typically Spielbergian, including using the Internet to stress the links between the film and real-life events. The studio even hired scientists at MIT's AI Lab to help market the film and organized a symposium on AI research on 30 April 2001, which featured a five-minute A.I. preview and a personal appearance by star Haley Joel Osment. Internet promotions included a Web game with over thirty different sites focusing on characters who were not in the film, but featuring a real Manhattan phone number and voice mail.
Although this campaign went largely unnoticed, it capitalized on the Web leaks and false information that surround many high-budget releases. In the wake of Internet advertising, fake Web sites have been used for many films, often with little comment. Even print advertisements have participated in this trend, with the prerelease campaign for Laws of Attraction (2004) taking the form of fake ads for its divorce lawyer protagonist, Audrey Woods (Julianne Moore), without mentioning the film at all.
Although actors were initially uncredited, favorites soon emerged, even though fans would not know when they might see them next and knew nothing about them. This anonymity was gradually eroded—first within the industry via the trade press. Names were first announced in January 1909, when Kalem identified its actors in the New York Dramatic Mirror via a picture of its stock company with their names printed underneath. A year later, the studio made a promotional poster of its actors available to exhibitors. Other companies released names in the trade press and in their own house journals during 1909, and by 1910, most companies gave screen credits. IMP (a Universal-affiliated producer) was the first to identify a star to the public via a publicity stunt. In March 1910, it signed Florence Lawrence from Biograph, first planting stories that she had died in a
streetcar accident, then denying them, claiming a rival had defamed their star. Lawrence's name was thus released to the public amid widespread publicity.
The film star was perhaps the most important development in film advertising, and the preservation of those carefully-crafted star images was the focus of most Hollywood publicity, a process that reached its peak during the classical era. Star publicity quickly developed around the characteristic intersection of private life and on-screen image, with publicity departments becoming incredibly vigilant about the information given to the press. From their inception, most movie ads centered on stars, but this was only the tip of the iceberg. Much of the Hollywood promotional machine was devoted to testing different star images and marketing and maintaining these personae. Although these tasks were related to the process of film advertising, they were undertaken by separate divisions of the publicity department. Posters, lobby cards, and pressbooks were created in conjunction with the art department, while the publicists maintained star images. In the post-classical era, talent agents and the stars' own publicists took over much of this work, usually for 10 percent of a star's salary.
During the classical era, star publicity predated any individual film and extended well beyond it. Even before stars appeared on-screen, publicists created, manipulated, and distributed manufactured star biographies; set up photo sessions for studio portraits; and guided their stars' off-screen appearances. They also monitored and managed their press, tested their popularity with exhibitors and covered up any scandals or aspects of their lives that did not fit their image. They provided copy and photos for the fan magazines, including "intimate" confessions and peaks into the stars' "real" lives, as well as delivering press releases and promotional copy to protect carefully constructed studio personae. To keep stars—and their films—in the public eye, publicists developed rumors, organized parties, and created awards—tactics that are still popular today. Even the Academy Awards® were established to keep stars and the film industry in the public eye.
The press was not always easily controlled, however, and the publicists had to work at maintaining a cordial relationship with the media. Even before the star scandals of the 1920s (the suspicious deaths of Olive Thomas and Thomas Ince, Wallace Reid's fatal drug addiction, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's murder trial, and the murder of William Desmond Taylor), the press wanted the truth about the stars—for some papers, the more sordid the better. As studio publicity built up interest in stars and helped sell papers, the press—especially smaller papers and the fan magazines—happily printed what were effectively studio press releases. The truth was more valuable and elusive but it could alienate the studios and jeopardize future film coverage. During the classical era, major studios might even pull their advertising from a paper if it reviewed important films badly or presented their stars in a bad light, and this could be costly for both parties. Bad reviews were sometimes changed, but other times the studio made the best of it, as with White Zombie (1932), for which it quoted bad reviews in ads and saw audiences increase. A similar phenomenon occurred decades later when Showgirls (1995) became a cult hit after failing as a serious drama, even being marketed in a special DVD edition with its own drinking game.
But after the collapse of the studio system, publicists faced greater struggles. The 1950s scandal magazine Hollywood Confidential exposed the sordid side of stars' lives, damaging studios' carefully constructed images until it ceased publication after a 1957 libel suit. Other such magazines soon appeared and even parody versions emerged, such as Cuckoo. Studios sometimes cut deals with Confidential and its ilk, selling out some actors to keep the true lives of other, more important, stars secret. But in the wake of these magazines, publicists had to confront the challenge of a more skeptical public aware of studio hype. This was less of a problem in the 1960s to the 1980s as interest in glamour (a term that implies superficiality and possible fakery) waned and Hollywood remodeled itself in the light of a new public fascination with realism. But with a resumed interest in glamour and celebrity since the 1990s, some of these same difficulties have reemerged, along with the centrality of the press agent and the careful molding of stars—this time through their own publicists. "Official" star images (from publicists, talent agents, and the studios themselves) are now countered by independent paparazzi, tabloids, and gossip Web sites such as gawker.com or defamer.com, featuring anonymous (and possibly unreliable) sources that cannot be leveraged or bought off. As stars and their agents lobby state governments to reign in paparazzi, the public's fascination with stars seems to increasingly depend on the pleasure of weighing which images are most "truthful."
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