University of Leicester
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Exhibition in the British film business 1939-1945

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posted on 2014-05-06, 09:26 authored by Anastasia Skiada
This thesis concentrates on the exhibition sector of the cinema industry and argues that the cinema industry was very successful during the war, despite bombing, rising costs, and wartime shortage. The success of the cinema business is understood not only via the analysis of the financial statements of the companies, but also as a business phenomenon which relates to government manipulation, and cinema goers' expectations. Given the important position played by the combines in the evolution of the cinema industry, and the lack of any available data about independently owned cinemas it concentrates on the financial performance of the combines, in order to demonstrate the success of the cinema industry. The evolution of the cinema industry during the war years is also demonstrated by the further development of industrial concentration. This happened through merger and added to the increase in the industry's profits and its further strengthening. It is argued that the success of the circuits was due to the prevailing conditions in cinema exhibition during the war: the barring system, rise of film hire, and conditional booking, due to the government's 'inertia', and most of all due to the state's policy and actions. These were directed towards the strengthening of the cinema industry, since the state used it as means of propaganda and for morale boosting purposes. The unique role played by the cinema in wartime was its social function. The cinema emerged as the main focal point of the community's social life through the organisation of events which helped the community, from charity concerts to recruiting drives. A visit to the local cinema offered a much wider experience than film consumption; it gave a feeling of security, provided a cheery and friendly atmosphere, and a sense of solidarity. This is how its patrons experienced the cinema was experienced and this thesis demonstrates how publicity and marketing helped establish its central place in the community.



Colls, Robert

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Historical Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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