Hollywood’s been a cat with nine lives for decades as new inventions like the radio, TV, cable, video cassettes and now streaming were expected to put theatres out of business. None did or will.
The real death knell for Hollywood was supposed to be a TV in the early ’50s. Who’d want to go out to a theatre when they could see Milton Berle or I LOVE LUCY at home for free on their new 10 inch screens? That’s when exhibitors found they could compete very effectively with wide screens like CinemaScope (pictured) & VistaVision, stereo sound, 3D & gimmicks like Smell-O-Vision, or seats wired to tingle or shake.
Hollywood didn’t just survive. It benefited from recognizing how to use TV to market movies in a way that made possible today’s system of producing tentpoles for wide distribution. With TV, studios were suddenly able to promote films with advertising that reached a huge national audience at the same moment.
Previously, studios would open films in NY & LA and then widen their runs to other key cities as word of mouth spread. Wide releases made possible much bigger grosses and helped weaker films perform before bad word of mouth could kill them.