Tent-pole (entertainment)

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In television and motion pictures, a tent-pole or tentpole is a program or film that supports the financial performance of a film studio, television network, or cinema chain. It is an analogy for the way a strong central pole provides a stable structure to a tent. A tent-pole film may be expected to support the sale of tie-in merchandise.


In the film industry, tent-poles are sometimes widely released initial offerings in a string of releases and are expected by studios to turn a profit in a short period of time. Such programming is often accompanied by larger budgets and heavy promotion.[1] A tentpole movie, for example, is a film that is expected to support a wide range of ancillary tie-in products such as toys and games.[2]


An example of this strategy in television is to schedule a popular television program alongside new or unknown programming, in an attempt to keep audience viewers watching after the flagship program is over; a prominent example is the long-running Star Trek series.[3] A related concept is the hammock: if a network has two tent-pole series, it can boost the performance of a weak or emerging show by inserting it in the schedule between the two tent-poles.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rise of the Blockbuster". BBC News. 16 November 2001. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  2. ^ Plastic Reality: Special Effects, Art and Technology in 1970s U.S. Filmmaking, Julie A. Turnock, ProQuest, 2008. p. 236
  3. ^ Teitelbaum, Sheldon (5 May 1991). "How Gene Roddenberry and his Brain Trust Have Boldly Taken 'Star Trek' Where No TV Series Has Gone Before : Trekking to the Top". Los Angeles Times. p. 16. Archived from the original on 6 November 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Michael Dann, TV Programmer, Dies at 94; Scheduled Horowitz and Hillbillies". The New York Times. 31 May 2016.