PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Working Title Films Part II: The Rise and Fall of a Film Studio

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In a recent article in this journal, I examined the early development and launch of a film studio, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (PFE), and the integration of an independent production company, Working Title Films, into this new venture between 1988 and 1993. This article resumes that narrative by considering the evolving parent company-subsidiary dynamic at play between PFE and Working Title between 1993 and 1998. In doing so, four overlapping objectives are pursued. Firstly, I examine the structures and processes which linked PFE to Working Title by conceptualising the relationship between the two in terms of creative and commercial gatekeeping with gates at the points of development, green-lighting and distribution. Secondly, I consider the release of Working Title’s first worldwide hit, Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), and assess its impact upon both the production company and the studio. Thereafter, PFE’s subsequent development - the expansion of its distribution and marketing network, its acquisition of various film libraries, the proliferation of its production deals – is charted, as well as its premature demise and the fate of its assets, including Working Title. Finally, I position this history within the wider context of the relationship between the film industries and cultures of Britain and Hollywood by considering PFE’s unique achievements and legacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-803
Number of pages32
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020

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