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View Diary: Are old movies doomed to obscurity? (288 comments)

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  •  Several explanations, I think (13+ / 0-)

    One is the rise of cable tv, the other is the decline of broadcast tv, and then there's syndication.

    Once upon a time when there were 2 then 3 major networks and a lot of local stations, there wasn't all that much content available for them to air. I can remember when regular network television would schedule movies on a regular basis. They worked through a lot of Hollywood classics, especially the big epics with major stars. And, you could count on a number of friends and co-workers having seen that movie the night before.... Shared experience in other words.

    Local stations had a similar problem. Afternoons, late nights, weekends, they'd fill time with movies. Maybe they couldn't afford the big films, but there were plenty of B movies that made it on the air. (That's how I happened to see The Titfield Thunderbolt for example. I can't imagine it getting airtime today. Online options here.)

    Then came the rise of syndication - local stations could fill time by re-running old tv shows. They came with a built-in audience, could be filled with commercials, and fit in half hour - hour programming slots. Running old movies became a lot less attractive. If you didn't catch it from the beginning, well why bother?

    The rise of cable further skewed the picture. With cable paying big bucks to run movies right out of the theaters, the major networks moved away from films - especially since they were now looking at creating series that could eventually go the syndication route.

    The number of cable channels further marginalized old movies. With dozens of choices to compete against, for an old film with stars modern audiences don't know and a story they may have never heard of, keeping them from clicking to another channel is an uphill battle.

    So, where once movies had a much larger audience (by default), that era has passed. It's now analogous to books and libraries - thousands of classics gathering dust on the shelves while best sellers are on the waiting list.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 04:15:49 PM PDT

    •  On the positive side, access to those movies (7+ / 0-)

      is much easier to obtain.

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      by The Dead Man on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 06:54:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another consideration is just how much time... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch, Gay CA Democrat, xaxnar

      ...has passed.

      Growing up in the seventies, the "old movies" that ran on television were typically from the forties and fifties -- with an occasional film from the thirties, maybe.  

      And, really, the "talkie" era had begun around 1930, so the history of talking pictures in, say 1975, only included films that were as much as 45 years old.  TV stations where I lived didn't show silent films, so that was the age of the oldest films that they would even consider showing.

      Today, the oldest talkies from 1930 are now over 80 years old.  And there's a lot of films that have come out since.  It's not especially surprising that the first few decades of talking films no longer get a lot of visibility.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 08:28:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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