The word genre comes from the French word for 'kind' or 'type' and has been essential in the study of cinema. It tends to be used exclusively with Hollywood, though it's important to state that there is no universal agreement on the definition. Conventional definitions of genres tend to be based on the notion that they constitute particular conventions of content such as themes or settings and form/style which are shared by other films which are regarded as belonging to them. In relation to film, Andrew Tudor argued that genre is 'what we collectively believe it to be'. Typical examples of genre are "The Western", "The musical", "comedy", "action", "melodrama". Genre is a complex concept with multiple meanings which could be identified in a number of ways:.
- As a formula, structure or framework on which individual films are formed.
- As a contract between production and audience expectations.
As Stephen Neale stated in his book Genre " Genre's may be defined as patterns/forms/styles/structures which transcend individual films, and which supervise both their construction by the filmmaker.
Genre movies are generally commercial films and make up the majority of Hollwood production which as an industry constantly churns them out in Mass production. Each genre has common concepts and conventions which in turn create certain expectations for the audience. Films generally fit into a category which the audience have prior knowledge of. They draw on a tradition of common themes and action. For example when the next action blockbuster hits the screens, due to repetition over time in the action genre and the audience's experiences, certain conventions will be expected and produced like an assumed contract between the two parties. As Barry Keith Grant puts it.
"Stated simply genre movies are those commercial feature films which through repetition and variation, tell familiar stories with familiar charactors in familiar situations.