From the horizontal integration of multinational corporations, which guarantees extensive media crossovers, to the digitization of Hollywood, which has affected the business, production, and marketing of cinema, big-screen films are indebted to a similar intimate congress among media. (Klinger 2006 p236)
In recent years we have seen many changes in technology. Processing power has increased, software is getting more and more integrated and complex and the hardware that is needed to run programs is getting smaller and more cost-effective. For the film industry this means new editing software, more powerful digital imaging programs and new formats like digital projection, DVDs and Blueray. Digital cinema provides a clearer picture, a better cinematographic experience and faster and easier distribution and is now becoming an industry standard. (Taylor 2006) DVDs and Blueray have replaced the now-obsolete VCR as the new home entertainment standard and home cinemas with bigger screens and better sound have changed the home viewing experience. The media integration and convergence that new technologies are creating encourages increased franchising and intertextuality, a lucrative development that production companies are only too glad to encourage. Now blockbuster films have all sorts of associate ancillary products, from video games to special edition DVDs to theme park rides and action figures.
A lucrative franchise is known in the commercially driven film industry (particularly in Hollywood) as one of the best ways to make money. Hollywood blockbuster films may cost millions of dollars to make but studios are willing to put money into them if they expect them to provide a high financial return. Successful blockbuster films are what fund Hollywood studios. The studios can afford to take some financial risk in other areas, funding many smaller films that are not guaranteed to recoup money if they have a couple of blockbusters in hand. This is because the revenue from blockbusters is not simply dependant on income from seats sold in theatres. Lucrative sponsorship and product placement deals as well as the sale of merchandise, like games and special edition DVDs, supplement this income. These films are known as ‘tentpole pictures’ (Bordwell 2006 p12) because they are the productions that ‘hold up’ the rest of the studio in the same way as a central pole in a tent keeps the rest of the tent upright.