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The term B actor is sometimes used to refer to a performer who finds work primarily or exclusively in B pictures.
In 1927–28, at the end of the silent era, the production cost of an average feature from a major Hollywood studio ranged from 0,000 at Fox to 5,000 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Latter-day B movies still sometimes inspire multiple sequels, but series are less common.
As the average running time of top-of-the-line films increased, so did that of B pictures.
The majors' "clearance" rules favoring their affiliated theaters prevented the independents' timely access to top-quality films; the second feature allowed them to promote quantity instead.
The additional movie also gave the program "balance"—the practice of pairing different sorts of features suggested to potential customers that they could count on something of interest no matter what specifically was on the bill.
In no position to directly block book, they mostly sold regional distribution exclusivity to "states rights" firms, which in turn peddled blocks of movies to exhibitors, typically six or more pictures featuring the same star (a relative status on Poverty Row).
Block booking became standard practice: to get access to a studio's attractive A pictures, many theaters were obliged to rent the company's entire output for a season.
The five largest studios—Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Fox Film Corporation (20th Century Fox as of 1935), Warner Bros., and RKO Radio Pictures (descendant of FBO)—also belonged to companies with sizable theater chains, further securing the bottom line.