Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

7/1/2015 - 6/30/2016

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Hollywood's Global Exhibition Empires, 1925-2013

FAIN: FA-58552-15

Ross Melnick
University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA 93106-0001)

"Screening the World: Hollywood's Global Exhibition Empires" is the first political, cultural, and industrial history of Hollywood's foreign ownership and operation of hundreds of motion picture theaters in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australasia, and South America from 1925 to 2013. Hollywood's global exhibition empires maintained a frequently fraught, often lucrative, and at times violent and politically adverse relationship with audiences, distributors, exhibitors, and politicians around the world. These American-run cinemas were, after all, not merely outposts for the exhibition of Hollywood films; they were also cultural embassies designed to attract local audiences to American films and movie-going practices. As new Paramount, MGM, Warner, and Fox theaters opened around the world, Hollywood not only dominated the content on the screen but increasingly owned the screens themselves.

Media Coverage

Move Over ‘Warcraft,’ NEH is Funding New Online Games (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Ross Melnick
Publication: Los Angeles Times
Date: 12/9/2014
Abstract: Coverage of the NEH Fellowship and support for my forthcoming book.

Exporting Hollywood: UCSB Film Historian Receives NEH Fellowship to Study Hollywood’s Strategy of Operating Movie Theaters Around the World (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Jim Logan
Publication: UCSB Current
Date: 1/27/2015
Abstract: Article focused on the NEH Fellowship and my forthcoming book.

A June To-Do List for Film Buffs in L.A. (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Jordan Cronk
Publication: Los Angeles Times
Date: 6/3/2016
Abstract: Hollywood Reporter article covering the global film exhibition film series co-curated by Ross Melnick and Paul Malcolm at the Billy Wilder Theater at the UCLA Hammer Museum

Indie Focus: 'De Palma' doc spurs revival alongside new discoveries in 'The Fits' and 'Viktoria' (Media Coverage)
Publication: Los Angeles Times
Date: 6/12/2016
Abstract: Coverage of the global film exhibition film series at the Billy Wilder Theater at the UCLA Hammer Museum curated by Ross Melnick and Paul Malcolm

Associated Products

Global Film Exhibition (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Global Film Exhibition
Author: Ross Melnick
Abstract: This course examines the industrial, social, and cultural practices employed in global film exhibition venues from the 19th to the 21st century and the local, national, and transnational film cultures developed around moviegoing and other consumption activities related to cinema.
Year: 2016
Audience: Graduate

Moviegoing in America (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Moviegoing in America
Author: Ross Melnick
Abstract: History of film exhibition / moviegoing in the United States from the 19th to the 21st century.
Year: 2017
Audience: Undergraduate

Marquee Movies (Exhibition)
Title: Marquee Movies
Curator: Paul Malcolm
Curator: Ross Melnick
Abstract: WE USED TO GO TO THE MOVIES. NOW WE WANT THE MOVIES TO COME TO US, ON OUR TELEVISIONS, TABLETS AND PHONES, as streams running into an increasingly unnavigable ocean of media. The dispersal of movie watching across technologies and contexts follows the multiplexing of movie theaters, itself a fragmenting of the single screen theater where movie love was first concentrated and consecrated. (But even in the “good old days,” movies were often only part of an evening’s entertainment that came complete with vaudeville acts and bank nights.) For all this, movie going still means what it always meant, joining a community, forming an audience and participating in a collective dream. As the way we experience movies evolves, the Archive takes an international look at how the movies have depicted movie-going over these years of change. The selected films carry us from the anarchic, freewheeling exhibition of the early silent era, through the exalting opulence of movie palaces to the post-war rise of exploitation shockers and into the romantic nostalgia for pre-television days gone by. Whether a moviegoer in France, Italy, Argentina or Taiwan, the current sense of loss at the passing of an exhibition era takes its place in the ongoing history of cultural and industrial transformation reflected in these films. Preceding the features, this series will also present a selection of related cartoons, short subjects, theater advertisements, promotional films, trailers and other exhibition ephemera that reflect the rich mix of media that has also, always shaped our shared visions in the dark. Series co-curated by Paul Malcolm and Ross Melnick.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing at UCLA Film and Television Archive

Warner Worldwide: Warner Bros. Theater Circuits and the Global Marketplace, 1938-2013 (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Warner Worldwide: Warner Bros. Theater Circuits and the Global Marketplace, 1938-2013
Author: Ross Melnick
Abstract: Despite the 75 year history of Warner Bros.’ global cinemas, the company’s expansive circuit remains largely forgotten. “Warner Worldwide” contrasts the company’s 20th century desire to secure key “shop window” cinemas in Europe and Latin America for Warner Bros. films with the company’s explosive growth in China during the 21st century that eventually ran afoul of local policies and politicians and led to the closure of Warners’ Chinese cinemas and the end of the company’s exhibition operations after 75 years. By examining Warner Bros.’ historical and contemporary theater chains and investments, “Warner Worldwide” reinforces the importance of studying theatrical exhibition for understanding how global distribution has been enabled by Hollywood’s operation and investments in local cinemas and chains and why, after 75 years, the company decided to end its theatrical operations abroad amid overbuilt markets, local opposition, and a changing digital landscape for film distribution.
Date: 04/03/2016
Primary URL:

Hollywood's Embassies: How Movie Theaters Projected American Power Around the World (Book)
Title: Hollywood's Embassies: How Movie Theaters Projected American Power Around the World
Author: Ross Melnick
Abstract: Beginning in the 1920s, audiences around the globe were seduced not only by Hollywood films but also by lavish movie theaters that were owned and operated by the major American film companies. These theaters aimed to provide a quintessentially “American” experience. Outfitted with American technology and accoutrements, they allowed local audiences to watch American films in an American-owned cinema in a distinctly American way. In a history that stretches from Buenos Aires and Tokyo to Johannesburg and Cairo, Ross Melnick considers these movie houses as cultural embassies. He examines how the exhibition of Hollywood films became a constant flow of political and consumerist messaging, selling American ideas, products, and power, especially during fractious eras. Melnick demonstrates that while Hollywood’s marketing of luxury and consumption often struck a chord with local audiences, it was also frequently tone-deaf to new social, cultural, racial, and political movements. He argues that the story of Hollywood’s global cinemas is not a simple narrative of cultural and industrial indoctrination and colonization. Instead, it is one of negotiation, booms and busts, successes and failures, adoptions and rejections, and a precursor to later conflicts over the spread of American consumer culture. A truly global account, Hollywood’s Embassies shows how the entanglement of worldwide movie theaters with American empire offers a new way of understanding film history and the history of U.S. soft power.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Columbia University Press Book Page
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780231201513
Copy sent to NEH?: No