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“Selling America to the World”? The Rise and Fall of an International Film Distributor in its Largest Foreign Market: United Artists in Britain, 1927–1947

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2015


Few industries are as widely associated with the spread of American values, ideas, and products as the film industry. U.S. firms certainly dominated the global market for feature films, but did they do so simply by “selling America to the world” or was there more to be gained by catering to the diverse tastes of international audiences? This article examines the operations of a leading U.S. film distributor in its largest foreign market. United Artists, like other U.S. firms, was forced to offer a minimum proportion of British films for distribution in the United Kingdom in the 1930s and 1940s. Was this requirement a burden, or were the firm’s British films actually at the heart of its success in the U.K. market?

Copyright © The Author(s) 2006. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Business History Conference. All rights reserved.

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