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edited December 2010 in Movie Discussion

A B-movie is a low budget film, compared to major feature films. The B-movie genre is incredibly diverse, with films ranging from cheesy science fiction movies to campy horror flicks. Due to their low budget, they tend to have crude sets, very fake effects and terrible acting.

The “B” in “B-movie” is a reference to the B-movie’s old place on double feature marquees. Originally, B-movies were developed to fill the second slot in a double feature, allowing theater customers to feel like they were getting their money’s worth. A B-movie would then be made with lesser known actors and significantly less money, creating a film which would always generate a return on investment, thanks to being paired with a major feature film.

In the Golden Age of Hollywood, studios struck block booking deals with theaters, this is where theaters were required to purchase the studio’s entire output for a season. Under block booking, cinemas got the popular features right along with B-movies, with prices being flat fees or a percentage of the take, depending on the movie. Block booking may no longer legal, but some studios continue to manipulate theaters into purchasing specific sets of films in the hopes of making some extra cash.

Even though the double feature tradition started to decline in the 1950s (since films became longer) the B-movie endured. Nowadays, the term is used more generally to refer to any low-budget film.

Many actors and actresses get their start in B-movies and eventually move onto bigger and better things. But there are others who stay and make their careers in the B-movie world. These films have been used as a proving ground for new directors, producers, and others in the film industry as well. A few B-movies have also achieved cult status, with fans loving the cheese factor.
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