At the picture show: small-town audiences and the creation of movie fan culture

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Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996 - Performing Arts - 248 pages
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In this social history of the movies during the silent-film era, Kathryn H. Fuller charts the gradual homogenization of a diverse American movie audience as itinerant shows gave way to established nickelodeon theaters and then to more luxurious picture palaces. Demonstrating that the vertical integration of the film industry eliminated variety at the local level, Fuller argues that fan magazines helped to reduce the distinctions between rural and urban moviegoers and created a nationwide popular culture of film consumption. Analyzing the articles, advertisements, and letters in such publications as Motion Picture Story Magazine and Photoplay, Fuller shows that these fan magazines initially had catered to both men and women but by the late 1910s shifted their focus to young women who, entranced by Hollywood glamour, eagerly bought products endorsed by the stars. Although the transformation of the movies into big-time entertainment had multiple sources, Fuller argues that ultimately the maturation of the film industry depended on the support of both urban and rural middle-class audiences. Providing the fullest portrait to date of the small-town audience's changing habits and desires, At the Picture Show demonstrates for the first time how a fan culture emerged in the United States, and enriches our understanding of mass media's relationship to early twentieth-century American society.

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Photoplay Magazine Movie Fans and the Marketplace
The Regional Diversity of Moviegoing Practices

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