This project involves an investigation of the spatial and functional logic of the motion-picture industry in Los Angeles. Particular attention will be paid to locational agglomeration and dispersal tendencies in the industry, to the organization of production as a dualistic system of majors and independents, and to the role of distribution in sustaining the economic vibrancy of the entire motion-picture production system. The goals of the project are not only to understand the complexities of this particular case, but to contribute more generally to the our knowledge of cultural industries and their basis in globalizing urban-based production systems. Three major lines of inquiry will be pursued: (1) How is the motion-picture industry of Los Angeles organized in terms of the changing social division of labor? What are the geographical forces that keep the industry locked in to the central agglomeration of Hollywood? Conversely, what is the current level of runaway production from Hollywood, and what factors encourage this phenomenon? (2) What are the roles of majors and independents, their relations, and their impacts on the economic and locational dynamics of the industry? (3) How is the distribution of the products of Hollywood's motion-picture agglomeration organized and how does the distribution system help to consolidate (or undermine) the competitive supremacy of this agglomeration? The project will conduct a mail and email survey of over 1200 motion-picture companies, followed by interviews of selected company representatives.
This research will provide a comprehensive and reasoned description of one of America's largest and most enigmatic industrial agglomerations. It will show, in particular, how the dynamics of a major industrial cluster are shaped by global markets, and conversely, how global markets themselves can be contested on the basis of competitive advantages residing for the most part in localized clusters of production.