Why Does Hollywood...?

This section answers questions readers have about the way Hollywood or the entertainment industry acts and makes decisions.

Why is Hollywood geographically in Hollywood, California? Who decided that? - Dan C.

Thomas Edison.

No, seriously! If Thomas Edison hadn’t been such an egomaniacal patent hound, Hollywood would be in New York.

While there had been other attempts to create moving pictures, William Dickson, an employee of Edison’s, created the Kinetograph in 1891. The Kinetograph was the first contraption that shot moving pictures on sprocketed celluloid via an electric motor. Basically, it took pictures so fast that, when shown back on a film projector, looked like they moved.

Three years later, the Lumiére brothers of France invented their own camera and, in 1895, purchased the rights to produce celluloid film in New York. At the same time, a Polish inventor made yet another type of camera that could double as a projector. All of these devices were patented in their respective countries, so each inventor claimed that Motion Pictures was THEIR creation.

In 1908, to stop each inventor from suing and countersuing, Edison brought together nine other producers and distributors who together created the Motion Pictures Patents Company (AKA the Edison Trust). Entering an exclusive contract with Kodak film, The Trust refused to let outside filmmakers use their patented equipment or show movies in their theaters.

Naturally, the average artist didn’t agree with that, but didn’t have the power to say no. Rarely was there another game in town (if there was, the Edison Trust used ACTUAL mob connections to muscle them out), so the Edison Trust had effectively cornered the industry.

In 1915, the Supreme Court ruled these practices as unconstitutional and dissolved the trust. During those seven years, however, many film production companies had escaped Edison’s grasp by fleeing to California, where state patent laws were looser. Additionally, Trust members didn’t have underworld connections in California to enforce their rules. Among these production companies were Universal, Warner Brothers, RKO, Columbia, and Paramount.

Though Universal is America’s oldest studio, Paramount was specifically important to Hollywood history because its founders– Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn, Jesse Lasky, Adolph Zukor, and Arthur Freed–filmed studio movies out of a barn near Hollywood Blvd. and Vine Street. By 1916, Paramount was the first studio in the United States to control production, distribution, and exhibition of its pictures nationwide. Other production companies followed this business model, and every filmmaker, screen actor, and movie crew member flocked to Hollywood. There simply was nowhere else to be. These studios had snubbed Edison’s tyranny, becoming the heroes of American cinema.

107 years later, only Paramount resides in Hollywood; the rest are scattered across greater Los Angeles and exist in name only. RKO was partially absorbed by Disney, Columbia is a division of Sony, and Paramount has been smashed together with CBS under the control of Viacom. Universal, before being sold to Comcast, was owned by General Electric, a company co-founded by none other than Thomas Edison! Additionally, each member of this oligopoly is a member of the Motion Picture Association, an organization that determines what can and can’t be shown in theaters. To paraphrase Harvey Dent of The Dark Knight (trademark Warner Bros., a Warner Bros. Discovery company, spin-off of AT&T, all rights reserved): You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become acquired and merged.

Something Old...

I originally wrote this post in a post-Valentine's Day stupor, but now that ACTUAL midsummer is upon us, the time is perfect to read my review for this movie, then see if it's worth (a considerable chunk of) your time.

...Something New

Bone Tomahawk

I had meant to watch this movie when it came out, but didn't have the chance. This Western-Horror hybrid reared its head again when I was looking to expand my Kurt Russell repertoire.

Oblogatory publishes weekly on Mondays at noon CST. Saddle up and read it with all your buddies! ...Just make sure none of your buddies are cannibals.

What the heck do I watch this weekend?


Jordan Peele, the visionary auteur behind Get Out and Us returns with his third directorial entry. This one’s about a UFO passing over a Hollywood horse ranch. I’ve already said more than I should (they’re listening!); the less you know going into this film, the better.

Get Tickets:

The Bear

After his brother commits suicide, Carmen, an award winning chef, returns to Chicago to save the family sandwich shop. Professional kitchens are usually stressful enough without bruised egos, so sparks fly in this drama from FX.

Stream on:

Yurei Deco

From the minds behind the genius works of Devilman Crybaby and Keep your Hands off Eizouken! comes an adventure involving a duo of an influencer and a hacker trying to gain control of a Facebook-Meta-type platform by finding the person at its source. It’s loosely based of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which may seem disparate, but the episodes so far, like their strange duo, surprisingly harmonize.

Stream on Crunchyroll


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