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The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood

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In this unprecedented, all-encompassing, and thoroughly entertaining account of the movie business, acclaimed writer Edward Jay Epstein reveals the real magic behind moviemaking: how the studios make their money. Epstein shows that in Hollywood, the only art that matters is the art of the deal: Major films turn huge profits not from the movies themselves but through myriad In this unprecedented, all-encompassing, and thoroughly entertaining account of the movie business, acclaimed writer Edward Jay Epstein reveals the real magic behind moviemaking: how the studios make their money. Epstein shows that in Hollywood, the only art that matters is the art of the deal: Major films turn huge profits not from the movies themselves but through myriad other enterprises, from video-game spin-offs and soundtracks to fast-food tie-ins, and even theme-park rides. The studios may compete for stars and Oscars, but their corporate parents view wth one another in less glamorous markets such as cable, home video, and pay-TV. Money, though, is only a small part of the Hollywood story; the social and political milieus-power, prestige, and status-tell the rest. Alongside its remarkable financial revelations and incisive profiles of the pioneers who helped build Hollywood, The Big Picture is filled with eye-opening insider stories. If you are interested in Hollywood today and the complex and fascinating way it has evolved in order to survive, you haven' t seen the big picture until you've read The Big Picture.


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In this unprecedented, all-encompassing, and thoroughly entertaining account of the movie business, acclaimed writer Edward Jay Epstein reveals the real magic behind moviemaking: how the studios make their money. Epstein shows that in Hollywood, the only art that matters is the art of the deal: Major films turn huge profits not from the movies themselves but through myriad In this unprecedented, all-encompassing, and thoroughly entertaining account of the movie business, acclaimed writer Edward Jay Epstein reveals the real magic behind moviemaking: how the studios make their money. Epstein shows that in Hollywood, the only art that matters is the art of the deal: Major films turn huge profits not from the movies themselves but through myriad other enterprises, from video-game spin-offs and soundtracks to fast-food tie-ins, and even theme-park rides. The studios may compete for stars and Oscars, but their corporate parents view wth one another in less glamorous markets such as cable, home video, and pay-TV. Money, though, is only a small part of the Hollywood story; the social and political milieus-power, prestige, and status-tell the rest. Alongside its remarkable financial revelations and incisive profiles of the pioneers who helped build Hollywood, The Big Picture is filled with eye-opening insider stories. If you are interested in Hollywood today and the complex and fascinating way it has evolved in order to survive, you haven' t seen the big picture until you've read The Big Picture.

30 review for The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Carraturo

    Excellent read - thorough and fast paced too. Because of the changing media landscape, especially in the past 5-10 years, this definitely is in need of an update - yet - when it was written, perfectly executed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This book offers an insightful look inside the Hollywood movie entertainment industry with an emphasis on the way the industry has changed over the decades. Published in 2005, this account is now dated but the predictions about the rise of digital media and the growing decline of theaters are interesting to assess almost 20 years later.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yanal

    Great book for a historical account of Hollywood If you want to understand the world of Hollywood then this a great book to give you a broad overview from the early beginning till present day

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Excellent read! Well written and highly entertaining!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Starts off great but then after a few chapters in I started to drift away...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Robbe

    The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood by Edward Epstein (2005) is a collection of intriguing narratives addressing the American film industry's motivation for money, power, and prestige. Beginning with the studio system spanning the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Epstein discusses how the single activity of selling tickets at the box office was the primary source of revenue for the movie industry. In addition, the author describes how a film is actually made — from the initial The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood by Edward Epstein (2005) is a collection of intriguing narratives addressing the American film industry's motivation for money, power, and prestige. Beginning with the studio system spanning the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Epstein discusses how the single activity of selling tickets at the box office was the primary source of revenue for the movie industry. In addition, the author describes how a film is actually made — from the initial pitching session to the last phase of non-linear digital editing. He also explains how today's motion picture industry has changed to be dominated by six major corporations — Sony, Time Warner, NBC Universal, Viacom, Disney, and News Corporation. He describes how these huge media conglomerates control motion picture entertainment and treat films as part of a larger, synergistic moneymaking industry. In today's industry, Epstein makes the point that the profits from major films are not totally from box office ticket sales, but rather from a variety of other enterprises such as video-game offshoots, fast-food marketing advertising, musical soundtracks, theme park rides as well as merchandising and licensing arrangements (e.g., clothing, home video/DVD sales, cable/pay-TV markets, etc.). In The Big Picture, the author also traces the socio-political influence of movies and how they intentionally shape political responsiveness both in America and abroad. This is a good read for anyone interested in an overall view of the motion picture industry and how money and power in Hollywood come into play with each other.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Though published only about a decade ago, it's eye-opening to realize how far digital media technology has come! The author frequently references now-antiquated means of watching movies, and never mentions online, streaming, etc., means that have come to dominate. I'm guessing his behind-the-scenes analysis of Hollywood numbers and contracts came from a limited number of insiders and he was therefore limited, but the constant references to particular movies (ex. Terminator 3, Gone in 60 Seconds) Though published only about a decade ago, it's eye-opening to realize how far digital media technology has come! The author frequently references now-antiquated means of watching movies, and never mentions online, streaming, etc., means that have come to dominate. I'm guessing his behind-the-scenes analysis of Hollywood numbers and contracts came from a limited number of insiders and he was therefore limited, but the constant references to particular movies (ex. Terminator 3, Gone in 60 Seconds) felt a bit repetitive. And a nitpick that came up twice: the author refers to the Lord of the Rings trilogy as "children's books" and "bloodless", both of which I think are incorrect. It seems he tossed them into those categories since the labels fit into his analysis. Nonetheless, this books is a nice historical overview of how vastly Hollywood has changed through the years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Trey

    Really valuable as an overview of the economic, social, and political conditions of what the set of industries we call 'Hollywood'. Starts to break down sometimes when you get into the details -- he oversimplifies certain terms or events, and his chapters on how Hollywood influences culture is made useless by his refusal to discuss how much Hollywood's view of businessmen, or law enforcement for example, is related to actual events versus driven by stereotypes inherited from earlier films. Still Really valuable as an overview of the economic, social, and political conditions of what the set of industries we call 'Hollywood'. Starts to break down sometimes when you get into the details -- he oversimplifies certain terms or events, and his chapters on how Hollywood influences culture is made useless by his refusal to discuss how much Hollywood's view of businessmen, or law enforcement for example, is related to actual events versus driven by stereotypes inherited from earlier films. Still, not much writing looks at the film industry from the perspective of analyzing vertically integrated corporations that get most of their revenue from international box office, licensing, merchandising, and home entertainment, and this book is well-researched and possesses great explanatory power in that respect.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Great "big picture" view of how Hollywood money and power flows in tinsel town. While you won't have enough of the gritty detailed knowledge to run a major studio after this primer, it covers all the major areas creates a great starting point to dive into more reading on such detailed topics elsewhere. Epstein keeps the interest strong, even through financial spreadsheets of costs and percentages, by integrating fascinating Hollywood tales of excess, woe and even just weirdness - most of them ap Great "big picture" view of how Hollywood money and power flows in tinsel town. While you won't have enough of the gritty detailed knowledge to run a major studio after this primer, it covers all the major areas creates a great starting point to dive into more reading on such detailed topics elsewhere. Epstein keeps the interest strong, even through financial spreadsheets of costs and percentages, by integrating fascinating Hollywood tales of excess, woe and even just weirdness - most of them apt to the point at hand. It's a fascinating walk through the finances and driving forces of an industry that like it or not plays a major influential role in the world's culture.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rickeclectic

    The second of two books that are about the history of the business of film in Hollywood. The first ia An Empire of their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood, which is a good, detailed look at the early history. This book is a good detailed history of the current era. It explains the changes in the last several decades and the way in which Hollywood markets and makes money. It can be very enlightening for folks who are starry eyed idealists about the film industry, which after all is about makin The second of two books that are about the history of the business of film in Hollywood. The first ia An Empire of their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood, which is a good, detailed look at the early history. This book is a good detailed history of the current era. It explains the changes in the last several decades and the way in which Hollywood markets and makes money. It can be very enlightening for folks who are starry eyed idealists about the film industry, which after all is about making money, not making art. Certainly worth a read for anyone interested in the industry.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Two star rating is based on the fact that I was looking for a more entertaining read. Yes, it was informative, but it just wasn't that engaging. Trust me, I have no idea how I managed to actually finish this rather dry look into the economic/corporate workings of Hollywood. Oh wait, yes I do, I stopped halfway through and read a good book. Actually, the chapter on the "clearinghouse" function of studios was interesting enough to keep me going. I was intrigued by the concept of Hollywood accountin Two star rating is based on the fact that I was looking for a more entertaining read. Yes, it was informative, but it just wasn't that engaging. Trust me, I have no idea how I managed to actually finish this rather dry look into the economic/corporate workings of Hollywood. Oh wait, yes I do, I stopped halfway through and read a good book. Actually, the chapter on the "clearinghouse" function of studios was interesting enough to keep me going. I was intrigued by the concept of Hollywood accounting and wanted more info on that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kit Fox

    Though it's probably a little outdated already, this did contain some interesting tidbits on where Hollywood came from and where the big money is taking it. I had no idea that Akio Morita, one of the guys who founded Sony, had total Judeaphilea. Or that one exec in the movie theater biz considers the cup holder to be the greatest film innovation since the introduction of sound. Ever wanted to know a lot of financial figures about Gone in 60 Seconds? Then this is the book for you. Though it's probably a little outdated already, this did contain some interesting tidbits on where Hollywood came from and where the big money is taking it. I had no idea that Akio Morita, one of the guys who founded Sony, had total Judeaphilea. Or that one exec in the movie theater biz considers the cup holder to be the greatest film innovation since the introduction of sound. Ever wanted to know a lot of financial figures about Gone in 60 Seconds? Then this is the book for you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    I loved this book. I felt like I learned something new on almost every page. Epstein peels back each layer of the movie business to help you understand it from all angles. I was even impressed by the parts with information I already knew, a true testament to how crisp and engaging the writing is. If you're curious about how movies do or don't get made, read this. I loved this book. I felt like I learned something new on almost every page. Epstein peels back each layer of the movie business to help you understand it from all angles. I was even impressed by the parts with information I already knew, a true testament to how crisp and engaging the writing is. If you're curious about how movies do or don't get made, read this.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Lots of information, delivered in a very dry manner. I find the movie business fascinating, so I enjoyed reading this book and learned a good deal, but it could have used more personality to keep the pages turning.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Required reading for a required class. Confusing to keep track of mergers, alliances (informal, legal, etc) but mostly because I just stopped caring. Still, new information that investigative journalists have been trying to get for years is revealed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Kammel

    Read excepts only: 131-235 Complete with tons and tons of excellent examples from the real world, this book gives one an idea of how interesting (and sometimes absurdly ridiculous) the film business can be.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    His slate column was better.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    This book shows how Hollywood really works and goes a long way toward answering the time-honored question, "Why are most movies so bad?" It's also a fun read. This book shows how Hollywood really works and goes a long way toward answering the time-honored question, "Why are most movies so bad?" It's also a fun read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    EOB

    Exceptionally deep, current, systematic, and well-organized explanation of how modern media businesses extract value from intellectual property.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barbi

    I couldn't get through this...a bit too dry for a casual movie enthusiast. I couldn't get through this...a bit too dry for a casual movie enthusiast.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pbvravi

    Good insight on how global media works and how content is crucial part of this whole system.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Akasha Coral

    Epstein is a genius who could put everything you need to know in 400 pages.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ian Bond

    Great starting point to learn the entertainment industry. How it was created, major contributors, and where it is trending towards...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Derek Georgio

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tom Reese

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  27. 5 out of 5

    patrick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Myles

  30. 4 out of 5

    Narti

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