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The Big Picture

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  181 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
During the heyday of the studio system spanning the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, virtually all the American motion picture industry’s money, power, and prestige came from a single activity: selling tickets at the box office. Today, the movie business is just a small, highly visible outpost in a media universe controlled by six corporations–Sony, Time Warner, NBC Universal, Viaco ...more
ebook, 268 pages
Published February 15th 2005 by Random House
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Adrian Robbe
Sep 11, 2016 Adrian Robbe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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)
...more
Trey Jackson
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 ...more
Paul
Mar 01, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Rickeclectic
Oct 27, 2009 Rickeclectic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folks interested in the film indusry
Shelves: film
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 ...more
Anne
Jun 11, 2010 Anne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slog
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
...more
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.
Noah
Feb 27, 2009 Noah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Travis
May 08, 2012 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sarah
May 28, 2007 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Mark Kammel
May 19, 2009 Mark Kammel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
EOB
Dec 29, 2010 EOB rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptionally deep, current, systematic, and well-organized explanation of how modern media businesses extract value from intellectual property.
Ian Bond
Feb 19, 2015 Ian Bond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great starting point to learn the entertainment industry. How it was created, major contributors, and where it is trending towards...
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Nathan
Jul 07, 2007 Nathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: big time movie nerds
His slate column was better.
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Edward Jay Epstein (born 1935) is an American investigative journalist and a former political science professor at Harvard, UCLA, and MIT. While a graduate student at Cornell University in 1966, he published the book Inquest, an influential critique of the Warren Commission probe into the John F. Kennedy assassination. Epstein wrote two other books about the Kennedy assassination, eventually colle ...more
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