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Research Guides

Cinema Studies: Trade, Fan & Technical Magazines

This guide highlights recommended resources for research in Cinema Studies.

magazine covers

Publication Types

Three different types of magazine-like publications that you may use when researching film.


Trade magazines cover the business of filmmaking with information about studios, legal issues such as censorship, film distribution and more. They may provide box-office statistics and sometimes listings with plot summaries of upcoming films and notably in the case of Variety, film reviews. 

Examples: Hollywood ReporterFilm Daily & Variety


Fan magazines focus on celebrity profiles and movie-related gossip and are heavily illustrated (including studio portraits and behind the scenes and candid photos). They may include film reviews, interviews and other movie-related news. Also useful for advertisements, most of which are aimed at a female audience. 

Examples: PhotoplayEntertainment Weekly & Picturegoer


Technical magazines cover the technology of the film making process and are targeted to those working on a specific aspect of film such as cinematographers, sound engineers, etc. 

Examples: Journal of the Society of Motion Picture EngineersAmerican Cinematographer & Filmtechnik

Major Digitized Collections

The following collections include both trade and fan publications. Some collections offer just scattered issues and incomplete publication runs. More complete collections of some publications are available on microfilm.

Fan Magazines

The Fan Magazine Collection section of the Media History Digital Library includes a number of fan magazines dating from the silent film period to the early 1960s. 

Trade Publications

The Media History Digital Library has a number of trade publications in the following two sub-collections: Early Cinema Collection and Hollywood Studio System Collection. These are just a small sampling of trade publications available on microfilm and online.

Press Books

Pressbooks were created by distributors to promote their films in local markets. Sent directly to movie theaters, pressbooks provided promotional materials and suggested strategies for local exhibitors to bring people into the theater and maximize profits for both parties.

Technical Publications

The Technical Journal Collection section of the Media History Digital Library includes a few publications dating from the 1930s to the early 1960s.