Objective. Researchers have examined the social meaning of political cinema; however, little research places film into its contemporary political and economic context. Therefore, I examine the timing of the production and release of presidential cinema. Methods. The data are comprised of major motion picture releases from the years 1953-2004 that include a U.S. president as a character. Regression analysis is used to determine how the temporal release of movies featuring a president corresponds to social realities. Results. I find that the release of presidential cinema is correlated with the party that controls the actual White House and with the number of consecutive terms that the same party has been in the White House. More films with presidents are released during Democratic administrations than during Republican administrations and more films with presidents are released during first rather than second terms. This appears more acute during presidential election years. The state of the national economy affects the release of presidential cinema as well. Strong economies lead to the release of more films with presidents. Conclusions. This suggests that popular film content is affected not only by filmmaker whim and creativity, but also by measurable contemporary political and economic conditions. Future studies investigating film content should account for how national trends affect popular entertainment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)