chapter  7
21 Pages

From Bwana Devil to Batman Forever: technology in contemporary Hollywood cinema

The development of cinema technologies over the past four decades has been the result of a complex interaction between industrial needs (in both production and exhibition), product differentiation, economics and audience expectation. Industrial needs are focused around developing equipment and techniques, both to increase production efficiency and reduce costs, and to create a more attractive viewing environment. These in turn must both be seen in relation to product differentiation, the creation of a significantly new type or style of film which will draw crowds to the box office. That unique product might be very expensive to produce, in which case an important question is raised: will the expense involved in developing new equipment and new techniques towards creating a unique endproduct be recouped when that product is released? Audience expectations feed into this equation, by generating a desire to experience the 'new', or demand a more ambitious, more extravagant, or a more intense version of what has already been witnessed. These issues will be explored through a historical survey of the technological developments in widescreen, sound, colour, editing and interactive virtual reality.