Book Reviews: The Big Picture, The New Logic Of Money And Power In Hollywood. Edward J. Epstein. Rated A.

May 19, 2005 by
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Why Hollywood Movies Are Technologically Superb and Intellectually Poor.

This book is an astute analysis of the motion picture business by someone outside the business. Many books are written about the movie business by insiders or entertainment reporters but often these writers are too close to the subject or in awe of the subject and as a result miss the mark. Mr. Epstien gives an astute analysis of the current state of the business using sources that normally are not available to the public. An example is the confidential disclosures by the six major studios to the Motion Picture Association Of America (MPAA), which are then compiled into an industry compendium disclosing studios sources of revenue. Mr. Epstein confines his analysis to the six major studios, Disney, Sony, Universal, Warners, Paramount and Fox, which dominate the motion picture and ancillary entertainment businesses world wide.

Once a movie’s theatrical release was the primary source of a studios income and indeed in the beginning the only income. Now however the theatrical release is just the beginning of income to the studios that now earn more income from video/DVD sales and rentals than the initial theatrical release. Also particular types of movies that lend themselves to action figures, promotional tie-ins, theme park rides and sequels are the major earners for the studios. Examples of these are Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Batman. These movies are easy to understand, involve multiple spectacular action scenes and cater to a young demographic who go to movies, buy the action figures and memorabilia associated with a movie and after seeing it more than once in the theatres may buy the DVD or video of the movie.

While the cost of making and advertising the theatrical release may exceed box office receipts the picture will make money for the studio over the years in rentals, sales of the movie, leasing to television, pay per view, income from licensing toys and other products associated with the movie.

Mr. Epstein has described the historical development of the studios from creators of films shown in wholly owned theatrical chains to vast clearing houses greenlighting and financing producers to distributing, selling, licensing movies and related products world wide.
Why Hollywood Doesn’t Care About You If You Are Over 25.

This book was a profound look at the business side of the entertainment business and the people who control and profit from it. Every wonder why there is such a paucity of quality entertainment for persons older than twenty-five? Because in order to have a mega blockbuster that generates billions of dollars in income over the years it must be geared toward the 12 to 24 year old audience, with a story line that can be easily understood even it all the audience doesn’t speak the language of the movie well. This means action movies with a simplistic story line of good triumphing over evil.
This was an excellent book and after reading it you will understand why the major studios no longer care about making sophisticated movies for a mature audience



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