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Studios in the minor leagues of the industry, such as Columbia Pictures and Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), focused on exactly those sorts of cheap productions.
Their movies, with relatively short running times, targeted theaters that had to economize on rental and operating costs, particularly small-town and urban neighborhood venues, or "nabes".
They are where actors such as John Wayne and Jack Nicholson first became established, and they have provided work for former A movie actors, such as Vincent Price and Karen Black.
Some actors, such as Bela Lugosi, Eddie Constantine and Pam Grier, worked in B movies for most of their careers.
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.
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.
Two "major-minors"—Universal Studios and rising Columbia Pictures—had production lines roughly similar to, though somewhat better endowed than, the top Poverty Row studios.That average reflected both "specials" that might cost as much as and films made quickly for around ,000.These cheaper films (not yet called B movies) allowed the studios to derive maximum value from facilities and contracted staff in between a studio's more important productions, while also breaking in new personnel.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.
From their beginnings to the present day, B movies have provided opportunities both for those coming up in the profession and others whose careers are waning.