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International Socialism, Summer 1962


Theo Melville

Film Economics


From International Socialism (1st series), No.9, Summer 1962, p.33.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Decline of the Cinema
John Spraos
Allen and Unwin. 25s.

The cinema is not the most profitable field for accumulators of capital – 1,500 cinemas were closed between 1950 and 1960, and the American film output, a standby for the British industry, has dropped to half the level of ten years ago. John Spraos in this well-documented study brings out clearly the role of television in this decline, but does show also that cinema closure itself and the decline in the available choice of films has further accelerated the tendency towards decline.

The monopoly film organisations (e.g. Rank) have rationalised as the process developed, converting their buildings to other uses and diverting their trading interests. In the process, the chain cinemas have actually increased their hold on the industry. (p.103) The author argues against the rather rigid film-hire terms arbitrarily reducing the number of cinemas, and urges an increased subsidy (from increased prices) to modify these terms and build up the ‘third circuit’ against the leading film monopolies. He does not think declining industries should be nationalised. However, only a socialist nationalisation could help transform the cinema, dominated as it is by commercial considerations, and assist new creative talent. In any case, the present decline is certainly not deplorable.

For those interested in the future of the cinema industry, this book, backed by solid statistical evidence, is to be recommended.

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