Photograph of empty cinema seats

The cinema is still a popular destination, despite competition from other media industries and platforms

Film is a huge, global industry generating massive sums of money each year. Films themselves can be divided into different categories and defined according to:

GenreComedy, Thriller, Horror, Action, Fantasy etc.
ActorsSome actors are recognisable to a specific audience. For example, Jason Statham to an Action fan or Adam Sandler to a Comedy fan.
Production companiesMajor Hollywood studios (Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox and Sony amongst others) and Independent ones (Film Four, BBC Films, Warp Films etc.)
Production valuesIs it big budget or low budget?
CertificationWhat age group is the film appropriate for?

There are two main production contexts in the film industry:

  • Studio: mainstream films with big budgets made by major Hollywood studios. Studio films have high production values and star actors. Examples of this might be The Hunger Games series, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or a James Bond film like Spectre.
  • Independent: films with smaller budgets and sometimes as a result, lower production values. They are less likely to have so called A-list actors. Examples might be Juno, Birdman or Brooklyn.

Studio films

Hollywood sign

Hollywood studios dominate the film market

This is the industry model for a 'Hollywood' or ‘Blockbuster’ movie. They are usually made by big Hollywood studios and follow a formula:

  • Obvious characters, usually stereotypical, such as the action-hero.
  • An easy-to-follow narrative with universal themes, which can be described in one sentence and can be used as a tagline to promote the film.
  • High production values, expensive costumes and locations. These films often use special effects and/or CGI.
  • The film may be promoted and marketed via merchandise such as tie-in deals with food chains. In some instances, pop stars will produce songs for the soundtrack which will help market the film to a wider audience.
  • High profile celebrity actors. These actors can often be related to the film genre, such as Jason Statham in the action movie genre.
  • The main roles in the film are 'larger than life' characters rather than ordinary or real people.
  • The visual appeal of events or situations you would not see in everyday life, such as explosions, car chases, fantasy worlds and historical settings.
  • High drama and exciting, easy to understand plots.

These films are usually distributed by the studios that make them. The studios are often multinational media conglomerates that own companies across a range of various media platforms.

This means that these conglomerates can use all the companies they own to promote and market a film.

This use of all a media conglomerate's companies to produce, promote, market, and distribute a film and its official merchandise is called vertical integration.

Horizontal integration is when a conglomerate uses smaller independent companies to help with marketing, distribution or even the exhibition of a film.