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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.In either usage, most B movies represent a particular genre—the Western was a Golden Age B movie staple, while low-budget science-fiction and horror films became more popular in the 1950s.Early B movies were often part of series in which the star repeatedly played the same character.A new programming scheme developed that would soon become standard practice: a newsreel, a short and/or serial, and a cartoon, followed by a double feature.
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.
A B movie or B film is a low-budget commercial movie, but not an arthouse film. production of movies intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continues to be used in its broader sense to this day.
In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified films intended for distribution as the less-publicized bottom half of a double feature (akin to B-sides for recorded music). In its post–Golden Age usage, there is ambiguity on both sides of the definition: on the one hand, the primary interest of many inexpensive exploitation films is prurient; on the other, many B movies display a high degree of craft and aesthetic ingenuity.
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 its current usage, the term has somewhat contradictory connotations: it may signal an opinion that a certain movie is (a) a genre film with minimal artistic ambitions or (b) a lively, energetic film uninhibited by the constraints imposed on more expensive projects and unburdened by the conventions of putatively "serious" independent film.