Paramount Lost A Supreme Court Showdown That Changed Movie Theaters Forever – SlashFilm


Yes, what is typically referred to as “the Studio System” was, in fact, a deliberate effort by the Big Five to restrict competition and retain control. Theaters would ensure that their well-moneyed studio products showed in their own theaters, while litter neighborhood theaters were forbidden from getting “A” products. The Paramount Decrees were a boon for the industry overall, but a major blow to the millionaires. When studios had to sell off their theaters, neighborhood theater owners could re-emerge. Throughout the 1950s, local, low-budget filmmakers suddenly had available venues, and could personally bring prints to their neighborhood theaters, asking for exhibition. There’s a reason there was a boom of low-budget shlock, drive-in exploitation, and an uptick in underground queer filmmaking in the late 1950s. 

The Paramount Decrees took out an already-weakened industry. Thanks to the House Unamerican Activities Committee — which, in paranoid fashion, sought to root out “Communists” in the industry — many Hollywood employees were blackballed. Additionally, the British film industry wanted to boost their own numbers and enacted a 75% tax on American imports. Hollywood was struggling to stay the juggernaut it wanted to be. 

The Supreme Court case listed Paramount as the defendant as they were the studio that owned the greatest number of theaters at the time; by the estimation of “Englufed,” it was 1,450 theaters. To put that into perspective AMC currently owns only 900 theaters. However, all eight of the above-mentioned studios were included in the suit. Even the Little Three were accused of making deals with the major studio’s theaters as opposed to smaller, independent chains. Paramount and its co-defendants were given a year to sell off their theaters. 

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