Date of Thesis



This thesis had two goals: to explore the transformation of Hollywood from the 1930s to present, and to investigate how Contemporary Hollywood functions in a growing attention economy. Evident in the types of films that it produces as well as its evolving industrial structure, Contemporary Hollywood significantly differs from the Classical Hollywood of the 1930s. New digital technologies like surround sound and computer-generated imagery (CGI) have allowed studios to create a different type of film like the blockbuster and to have more extensive control over their films. Additionally, growing exhibition and distribution platforms have also fundamentally altered the industrial landscape of Hollywood. In order to combat this more egalitarian distribution system, Contemporary Hollywood has turned to conglomeratization. But, what has caused such a radical shift in the form and function of Contemporary Hollywood and its films? This thesis argues that Hollywood is failing to thrive in this new media landscape¿not because of changing technologies¿but because of a changing consumer. Richard Lanham theorizes that we are living in a growing attention economy, where human attention is the most valuable commodity in such an information-saturated society. For the current consumer, there is near-constant media over-stimulation: he or she is exposed to any number of screens (mobile phones, laptops, tablets, televisions, etc.) at any given time. Because we can access anything from anywhere at anytime, we¿ve become somewhat schizophrenic and impatient in terms of the media that we consume in our lives.


Contemporary Hollywood, Attention Economy, Blockbusterl, Classical Hollywood, Richard Lanham

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Eric Faden