05 July 2010
From Betamax to Blockbuster
His subheading may be “Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video”, but his narrative is primarily concerned with the juncture between studio film makers and the public. Making a successful business out of home video required the creation of a whole new marketing and sale structure, e.g. middlemen. As Greenberg sees it, distributors were instrumental in communicating the public desire for content back to a reluctant film industry. Studios were reluctant to let go of the pay-per-view royalties that were associated with theater and television screenings and set up all kinds of schemes to try and prevent permanent sales of their product on video.
By the end of From Betamax to Blockbuster, (and as this blog attests) the studios got on board with the idea of “home video,” and the product took off. While I would have enjoyed a more in depth discussion of the studio perspective, and it would have made the book better, I understand that Greenberg was intentionally restricting his narrative. Even with its limited scope the book covers a great deal of history that I had never considered, and as such it was a great read and a must have for any serious videophile or movie historian.