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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.The "King of the Bs", Roger Corman, produced and directed The Raven (1963) for American International Pictures.Vincent Price headlines a cast of veteran character actors along with a young Jack Nicholson.
Early B movies were often part of series in which the star repeatedly played the same character.
In contrast to the Big Five majors, Universal and Columbia had few or no theaters, though they did have top-rank film distribution exchanges.
In the standard Golden Age model, the industry's top product, the A films, premiered at a small number of select first-run houses in major cities.
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.
Poverty Row studios, from modest outfits like Mascot Pictures, Tiffany Pictures, and Sono Art-World Wide Pictures down to shoestring operations, made exclusively B movies, serials, and other shorts, and also distributed totally independent productions and imported films.