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Towards a Comparative Economic History of Cinema, 1930–1970

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  • © 2022


  • Presents the first systematic application of the POPSTAT method for estimating film popularity
  • Examines the business and civic system behind cinema as a mass activity
  • Brings distinctive national film histories into common focus, including countries from behind the Iron Curtain

Part of the book series: Frontiers in Economic History (FEH)

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About this book

This book examines the economic circumstances in which films were produced, distributed, exhibited, and consumed during the spoken era of film production until 1970. The periodisation covers the years between the onset of sound and the demise of the phased distribution of films. 
Films are generally appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. But they are also commodities. This work of economic history presents a new approach, considering consumption behaviour as significant as supply-side decision-making. Audiences’ tastes are considered central, with box-office an indicator of what they liked. The POPSTAT Index of Film Popularity is used as a proxy where box office knowledge is missing. Comparative analysis is conducted through the tool RelPOP.
The book comprises original case studies covering film consumption in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States during the 1930s;Australia and occupied Belgium during the Second World War; and Italy, the United States, Poland and Czechoslovakia during the Post-war. An overriding theme is how the classical American business model, which emerged during the 1910s linking production to distribution and exhibition, adapted to local circumstances, including the two countries behind the Iron Curtain during the years of ‘High Stalinism’. 

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Table of contents (13 chapters)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

    John Sedgwick

About the editor

John Sedgwick researches the business and economic history of movies and has published widely in business, economic and film history journals. As an academic, he worked for 25 years at London Metropolitan University (UK), teaching industrial economics and research methods. He also served variously as Economics Subject Leader and Director of the Centre for International Business and Sustainability. John was appointed Professor of Film Economics in 2009 and then Professor of Creative Industries in 2011. Between 2013 and 2017, he was employed as a 0.2 Professor in the Business School, University of Portsmouth (UK). He currently has visiting status at Oxford Brooks University

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Towards a Comparative Economic History of Cinema, 1930–1970

  • Editors: John Sedgwick

  • Series Title: Frontiers in Economic History

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Economics and Finance, Economics and Finance (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-05769-4Published: 10 September 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-05772-4Published: 11 September 2023

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-05770-0Published: 09 September 2022

  • Series ISSN: 2662-9771

  • Series E-ISSN: 2662-978X

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XII, 356

  • Number of Illustrations: 5 b/w illustrations, 31 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Economic History, Film History, Arts, Economics, general, Social History, Screen Studies

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