The stunning metamorphosis of twenty-first-century Hollywood and what lies ahead for the art and commerce of film.
In the past decade, Hollywood has endured a cataclysm on a par with the end of silent film and the demise of the studio system. Stars and directors have seen their power dwindle, while writers and producers lift their best techniques from TV, comic books, and the toy biz. The future of Hollywood is being written by powerful corporate brands like Marvel, Amazon, Netflix, and Lego, as well as censors in China.
Ben Fritz chronicles this dramatic shakeup with unmatched skill, bringing equal fluency to both the financial and entertainment aspects of Hollywood. He dives deeply into the fruits of the Sony hack to show how the previous model, long a creative and commercial success, lost its way. And he looks ahead through interviews with dozens of key players at Disney, Marvel, Netflix, Amazon, Imax, and others to discover how they have reinvented the business. He shows us, for instance, how Marvel replaced stars with “universes,” and how Disney remade itself in Apple’s image and reaped enormous profits.
But despite the destruction of the studios’ traditional playbook, Fritz argues that these seismic shifts signal the dawn of a new heyday for film. The Big Picture shows the first glimmers of this new golden age through the eyes of the creative mavericks who are defining what our movies will look like in the new era.
Ben Fritz is an editor for the Wall Street Journal. He previously covered the entertainment industry for the Journal, as well as the Los Angeles Times and Variety. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he lives in Los Angeles.
Ben Fritz answers the question of people like me who bemoan the decline in films of interest: What happened? As a Wall Street Journal reporter he is well qualified to answer this question since the answer lies in the economics of the movie industry.
While Fritz covers all the major studios (and smaller ones that have been absorbed or otherwise disappeared) his best primary source material comes from Sony. The North Korean hack enabled him to show the personal dynamics of the executives navigating the turbulence of DVD, internet distribution, the TV/Big screen role reversal, branded franchises, and the growing influence of China.
Along the way the reader gains an understanding of how the “event movies” of the past (“Jaws, Rain Man”) would never be made today. They could be blockbusters but if they were duds costs would be covered by the studio’s “tent pole” movies that had assured popular audiences. The business model is now: why invest in chances? In today's international market the subtlety of drama, comedy and documentaries has little appeal. Superheroes and spectacles translate across cultures so the potential is huge. The result is fewer, but bigger, movies. Those with a winning franchise (superhero), will be able to produce sequels and spin offs that are even less risky.
Through the Sony hack Fritz shows the internal dynamics of the changing market. You see movie executive Amy Pascal blindsided and fighting to hang on. Her emails show a denial of the power of the company, the finances, and the shareholders. She resents the intrusion of the TV division that is under her control. She keeps looking for the movies that fit the old formula.
Fritz doesn’t have the benefit of a hack for Disney, but from public sources he shows how the company pulled away from its Touchstone films and its Miramax acquisition to focus on films that support its theme parks and traditional niche. Its recent acquisitions, Marvel, Pixar and Lusasfilm, all support Disney’s overarching international brand. Each has the capability of supporting a “cinematic universe” with characters and story lines that can recur and intertwine.
The role of China is very recent and much bigger than I expected. It might take an investment from the Chinese national to get a film made and/or guarantee access to the huge Chinese market. A Chinese partner’s influence can change characters and story lines.
Fritz covers the reaction. He shows the growth and variety on TV, Megan Ellison’s Annapurna, and the efforts of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He profiles some boutiques set up by some directors who have been left out of the new business model who still have access to the stars, support professionals and ironically the distribution networks (and other benefits) of the studios that froze them out.
This book is short, pithy and perceptive review of the state of the industry. My review scratches the surface. To understand “What happened to good movies?” this is a must read.
Ben Fritz of the Wall Street Journal loves movies. He is passionate about the experience of communally watching a film, the unique ability for artists to tell their stories, and the Hollywood business machine behind it all. But man, he hates franchise features. From Marvel and DC to Star Wars and Star Trek to dinosaurs and robots, he sees these spectacles as indie film destroyers and creative blockers. To some extent, he might be right. What Fritz seems to have forgotten along the way, and a point that is only marginally made during the wrap-up of his book The Big Picture, is that movies, yes, even those about super-heroes and Jedis, are supposed to elicit an emotional response, be that enjoyable, fun, or even disturbing. The Big Picture is an important, topical, timely read, and one that can be quite depressing at times in regards to the state of the industry, and with that fact that he just can’t get over that super-hero hurtle.
Fritz focuses his book on the parallel fall of both Sony Pictures and of mid-budget adult dramas industry-wide. Taking advantage of 2014’s hack, Fritz provides incredible insight into the studio that, honestly, never could have happened if that hack did not occur. The book runs with a documentary style narrative on Amy Pascal, Michael Lynton, and Sony’s quest to remain as an actor-friendly studio in an era where big-budget franchises quickly became the rage of the machine, and at a time when Sony had one, single franchise, that surprisingly couldn’t compete: Spider-Man. Fritz’s on-going commentary, about how the franchises being overseen by the Disney umbrella (incorporating Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar), Warner Bros, and Fox propelled those studios ahead of the others by incredible margins with arguably less creativity, however, quickly becomes repetitive. He’s a voice in the wilderness screaming for common sense and a return to artistic measures, but one that is being smothered by the mass of fanboys, geeks, wizards, and Disney princess consumers.
But what if today’s current state is not all bad? Yes, studios have pared down their offerings, but what if in doing so, they are making better films? Creative films with substance guided by an artistic venture and not a committee? Fritz breaks down the financials of how a film like Steve Jobs may or may not make a profit and expands that equation to the first Spider-Man film by Sam Raimi. Yet he never scores an interview with an actor or director who made it big, and whose work benefited as a result of being in such a franchise. An artist, like Jon Watts who, regardless of making Cop Car, might never have achieved a grand success were it not for Spider-Man: Homecoming, or an actor such as John Boyega getting his huge break with The Force Awakens.
As part of those financials, Fritz gets into the former importance of DVD sales, and how the loss of that income was instrumental into the disappearance of mid-range fare. VOD and direct-release methods were discussed as alternatives, but financials on digital purchases and rentals were not given any viable notice. And perhaps it is still too early for analytics on such info. However, can it not be said that the successes of the X-Men and Deadpool films can directly lead into allowing studios, such as Fox, to release The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? Fritz only makes tangible connections.
Look, I am an indie film snob. I’m the guy hitting film festivals to see the latest from Jim Jarmusch and Wes Anderson while boycotting Michael Bay nonsense and Seth MacFarlane comedies. I prefer those serious dramas that compel thought and analyzation, to experience that fresh creative vibe. But man, the geek in me eats away at Marvel, Star Wars and Star Trek, franchises that I will defend as much as I love Bottle Rocket and Ghost Dog. I think there can be such compromise between art and commercialism. I think that if people are going to the cinema, even if it’s, ugh, Sausage Party, then the medium is being absorbed, and propagated. And that should be considered a win.
The Big Picture is a good read and a fantastic insider’s look into the studio system. However, the removal of the constant commentary could have reduced this repetitive-at-times read from a full book to a powerful article in the New Yorker.
Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for the advance reader’s copy. I find it deliciously ironic that I am writing this review on the eve of possibly the greatest franchise release of all time: Avengers: Infinity War. I have tickets for Saturday’s show.
Очень хорошая книга про тенденции в мире создания кино. Хотя книга уже несколько устарела, произошло несколько знаковых событий, которые не мог предвидеть автор - от пандемии до покупки Fox компанией Disney, остаётся много любопытных вещей и историй, о которых интересно читать - путь Marvel от банкротства до бесперебойного производства крайне прибыльных фильмов по комиксам, как Amazon скупает арт-хаус, как в Sony уволили руководителя ТВ направления, который приносил много денег, иногда больше, чем кино, но хотел новую должность, был «торгашом», а не рафинированным интеллигентом, за что и поплатился. Хотя вообще-то благодаря ему мир увидел сериал «Во все тяжкие», ну, але, как можно увольнять-то??? После нескольких книг про тайны голливудских студий и разнообразные истории мне кажется, что мир производства кино очень похож на многочисленные примеры русского бизнеса.
I don’t go to the movies anymore. That might surprise you if you know me, as I minored in Film Studies while pursuing a Journalism degree some 20 years ago. (Though that was more of a time management move on my part — it was easy to cut film class if they were showing a popular film that you could rent at Blockbuster if you really needed to be somewhere else to do journalism work.) In fact, I think the last movie I saw at the theater was the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, and I was one of only a few people who did see that film. The reason I don’t go to the movies much anymore is thus: while I was a comic book nerd in my 20s, and while I liked movies such as Iron Man and The Avengers, I grew tired of having to see other films that didn’t interest me, such as, say, Ant-Man, in order to be able to make sense of what was going in in the next Iron Man sequel. Same goes with Star Wars — I missed Episode VII on the big screen and getting caught up would essentially mean shelling out money that I don’t really have for Netflix and Internet plan upgrades to get caught up. The type of movies being made, with their cinematic universes, is akin to trying to keep up with Bob Pollard’s Guided by Voices and otherwise musical output. No sane middle-aged person can do it or would want to do it. Or maybe even afford to do it for us impoverished writer types.
So it was with this interest that I read Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz’s new book on the movies, The Big Picture. This book recounts why the types of movies we see now — reboots, franchises and so on — are being made at the expense of quality, adult mid-budget films that were a mainstay of Hollywood 10 years ago. This tome goes into detail about why TV has supplanted the big screen as the place where quality programming is being made, and why tech firms such as Amazon are now getting into the movie making business — to fill the void that the mainstream movie companies are now ignoring. The Big Picture also notes why China has become a big power player in the movie market. In a sense, The Big Picture is a state of the union address for the art of moviemaking.
My test for any book about Hollywood—particularly modern Hollywood—is whether or not the book teaches me anything new. As somebody whose main hobby is the box office and whose favorite intellectual pastimes include "thinking about movies" and "thinking about Hollywood as a global business," this can be difficult. I struggled in some of my Media Studies classes in college because, being the minorly obsessive personality that I am, I had already learned everything relevant in the syllabus before showing up on the first day of class.
THE BIG PICTURE gave me new insights into modern Hollywood.
Mined primarily from the hacked Sony emails of late 2014, the book uses Sony as an example of how Hollywood has shifted in the past few years, with especial focus paid to the franchise model as perfected by Disney (and perhaps most perfectly embodied by Marvel Studios). Consistently readable, the book contains reams of interesting data, cleanly presented. Fritz manages to paint a convincing portrait of a sprawling industry by mostly focusing on a few key players.
Perhaps more impressively, Fritz' arguments about the future of movies are convincing. This is, in many ways, not an optimistic book. Hollywood is making fewer movies for fewer (albeit broader) audiences. The communal movie theater experience is under threat. Media conglomerates are, well, conglomerate-y. That Fritz acknowledges and embraces all these facts AND leaves one feeling not entirely hopeless about the future of cinema is impressive (let's hope that digital upstarts like Netflix and Amazon can live up to the cinematic promise their unlimited bank accounts seem to offer). That he argues his points persuasively is perhaps more so.
It's not a perfect book. Notably, sections of the book dealing with China are already out-of-date as Beijing has recently cracked down on Chinese investment in Hollywood. And it is unfortunate that the book released a month after BLACK PANTHER seemingly redefined what a Hollywood blockbuster can and should be. A portion of a chapter about the LEGO cinematic universe feels horribly incomplete without the acknowledgement of the box office failure of 2017's franchise-threatening THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (throughout Fritz seems overly confident about the inherent success of franchised intellectual property as opposed to original intellectual property). The proposed Disney-Fox merger was announced after most of the book had been written. But given how rapidly the ground is shifting under Hollywood, it's hardly surprising that THE BIG PICTURE is already partially outdated. What matters more is Fritz' reporting and insights, which feel solidly true.
But as far as books about Hollywood go, THE BIG PICTURE strikes an impressive balance between being accessible for laypersons and informative and insightful for the more informed. Recommended.
I enjoyed this book because I worked in the film business during the years it covers and I am familiar with many of the "power players," at least by name. This book primarily deals with the business side of the biz - how the market for film changed over the last 30 years (the book was written a few years ago so it doesn't include anything about the pandemic or the effects of that on the industry.) It goes into what has driven the types of films being made and how studios have changed. I'm not sure it would appeal to anyone outside the film business, unless they are considering going into management.
Rather fitting that I finished this the day that CODA became the first streaming film to win the Best Picture at the Oscars.
The Big Picture is all about answering the question "how did we get here" when it comes to all of the franchise films currently inundating cinemadom and the death of the mid-budget, star-driven drama and comedy. I've read about studios shifting to the poles of bargain-bin comedy and horror and then tentpole franchises/sequels before and noticed the shift myself (pretty hard not to) but never seen the phenomenon explained so well and in such great detail.
The book is roughly split into two sections. The first examines Sony Pictures in depth and how their traditional strategy around star vehicles leveraging the likes of Will Smith and Adam Sandler left them in the lurch beginning in the mid-2010s when it was all about franchises and cinematic universes. Fritz takes advantage of the North Korean email hack of Sony Pictures to share a literal behind-the-scenes look at how a major studio is run and executives' slow realization that things needed to change (also note to Amy Pascal: maybe proofread your emails every once in a while). The emails are used well and amply supported by interviews with Hollywood contacts and executives.
The second half takes a more macro approach and does some deep dives on how franchises like Marvel and Lego operate, the growing importance of China, and how streaming services like Amazon and Netflix have become the last bastion of mid-budget artsy films. I felt this portion was a little weaker but still illuminating at times and definitely worth including.
Overall, this was quite an enjoyable book about the future of film (and while Fritz couldn't have seen Covid and its huge impact on streaming coming many of his other predictions have proved prescient) and a nice peek of what the modern movie business is like. If you're a humongous movie fan who avidly follows the trade then there may not be a ton of new stuff for you but for everyone else as long as you have a tiny level of interest in the subject matter you'll probably get a lot out of reading this.
The author, using Sony-hacked emails for much of his source material (which presents in and of itself a fascinating, fly-on-the-wall account of a film studio in the mid 2010s struggling to create mid-budget “adult” movies) convincingly argues: 1. Franchise films( especially those distributed by Disney) designed around a “universe” and designed to sell Legos, Barbies, Marvel toys, whatever, are here to stay; 2. China, for financial reasons, is the new target audience for most films; 3. Everyone - studios, film makers, audiences - will continue to reassess for some time their idea of “film” and “television” and what they want those two forms of media to be. (What is Marvel but tv in a cinema? What is Breaking Bad but cinema on tv?)
I appreciated the complexities presented here. Yes, Amazon produces films by auteurs. But does so to get people, mostly the affluent or semi-affluent, to buy stuff - Kindles, books, jewelry - from their site. Yes, franchise films aren’t the most interesting fare out there for many. But they generate revenue which allows a film like The Florida Project or Steve Jobs to get made and distributed. Yes, people watch more movies at home now. But this is a trend that started with the dawn of the VCR.
All good points. But, if I have one criticism, it’s that all of this is rather obvious to anyone who’s watched movies and tv for the past 15 years. Or even, like me, casually followed the inner workings of how Hollywood operates these days. Still, I can’t imagine anyone interested in cinema not appreciating this book. And, if you’re like me - someone who sees cinema as something more than Ironman and also a shared experience in a neutral space that is not your living room - you’ll appreciate the authors justifications for why you shouldn’t give up hope. Cinemas showing innovative films about complex, realistic people and places aren’t going away. They just might take a bit more work to find.
Full disclosure though: I’m happy I live in France where a full buffet of every kind of movie is regularly available at the local cinemas!
The basic thesis: for years, movie studies made lots of different types of movies, and the success of those movies was seemingly random. The globalization of the movie business means that international audiences can't follow intricate, nuanced cultural plots, so if you're going to make a movie that makes money, it needs to be something with accessible characters and big explosions. So Hollywood makes Fast and the Furious 9, The Avengers Part 26, and Star Wars 16, but no more mid-budget dramas.
Fritz thinks it is bad that Hollywood only makes movies that people want to see. While I prefer the movies Fritz likes, I don't feel comfortable telling everyone else their taste in movies is wrong: it's a preference, and a valid one, even if I disagree with it.
I’m a sucker for Hollywood insider books about companies I care about, in the spirit of James Stewart’s DisneyWar, so I devoured this zippy read about the struggles of studios to adapt to the multiple economic and cultural earthquakes roiling the entertainment industry in the 2010s. Much of it is tragic reading for a guy like me, who adores movie theaters and deplores the idea of kowtowing to the demands of the Chinese Communist Party to sell movie tickets, but the pain is worth Fritz’s inside scoops on the long history of Spider-Man’s cinematic origins, the rise of Marvel Studios, and other stories of silver-screen intrigue. Highly recommended if you love movies.
A fascinating look into the massive shifts in the movie industry from the rise of The Brand™ and the death of the mid-budget star vehicle. Plus great insights into Amy Pascal's career and specifically, the last few years of her tenure at Sony. The stuff provided by the Sony hack is incredible. There's even a look into Bob Iger's strategy as head of Disney and a chronicling of the rise of Marvel Studios. If you're interested in business/movie talk, you will LOVE THIS BOOK.
I can't recommend this enough. I devoured it in less than 2 days.
This is an interesting journalistic foray into the economics of Hollywood’s sequel/franchise/reboot obsession. Fritz does a good job assembling a coherent narrative from the decline of Sony Pictures, filled with data, boardroom drama and perspective on the industry as a cultural institution. The book lacks really meaningful commentary, however, and Fritz disappointingly doesn’t examine America’s love of the repackaged culturally. If you know what’s going on already, you won’t be surprised by anything here.
Bạn đọc yêu thích điện ảnh và hay xem phim bom tấn có lẽ sẽ thích những gì mà sách chia sẻ: những bí mật nội bộ các hãng phim nổi tiếng (Sony, Warnerbos, Disney, Marvel studios...), chi tiết thú vị về việc lựa chọn phim nào sẽ được sản xuất hàng năm, cách tính toán và phân chia lợi nhuận giữa các bên, về thói quen xem phim của công chúng, bàn luận về hiện trạng và tương lai của điện ảnh Mỹ và các nguy cơ mất bản sắc, bị thôn tính.
Hai khái niệm trung tâm của sách là "phim nguyên tác" và "phim thương hiệu". Phim nguyên tác có thể hiểu là phim có kịch bản sáng tác mới, độc lập- không có nhiều phần hay có chung hệ thống nhân vật với bộ phim khác. Tác giả dựa vào dữ liệu email nội bộ bị hack của hãng Sony và các bản thống kê phim, xếp hạng doanh thu rạp... để đưa ra nhận định: đã qua rồi kỷ nguyên rực rỡ của phim nguyên tác trên màn ảnh rộng. Giờ đây là thời kỳ của phim thương hiệu- con gà đẻ trứng vàng của các hãng phim- chính là những series phim bom tấn ngập tràn kỹ xảo, khiến khán giả háo hức ra rạp (vũ trụ Marvel, vũ trụ DC, X-men, phim live-action của Disney). Sự sáng tạo mới bị gò bó và bức tử trong cỗ máy sản xuất phim đòi hỏi doanh thu khổng lồ.
Cùng với sự phát triển của công nghệ, cách thưởng thức phim cũng thay đổi theo. Băng đĩa, tivi, rạp phim thay bằng các thiết bị di động, bằng nền tảng xem phim theo yêu cầu như Netflix, Amazon. Tác giả cảm thán cho sự bấp bênh của phim nguyên tác - có xu thế trở thành dịch vụ tặng kèm của các ông lớn thương mại điện tử, cảm thán cho sự thiếu đa dạng chủ đề và nhóm đối tượng xem phim của điện ảnh hiện đại.
Nhìn chung tác giả nói đến nhiều vấn đề, nhưng bố cục hơi lổn nhổn. Thay vì gọi cuốn sách này là một "bức tranh toàn cảnh" thì nên gọi là sách "behind the scence" về Hollywood. Đọc cũng hơi thú vị, nhưng không quá cuốn hút.
The Big Picture is the definitive explanation for why all theatrically-released movies are now sequels, remakes, comic books, superheroes or other "branded franchise" pictures, and why adult dramas, comedies and original concepts have vanished.
Fritz uses the trove of emails released as a result of the North Korean hack of Sony Pictures to explain how a traditional studio failed to adapt to a new market in which franchises rule, while discussing all of the factors that led to the shift in movie production and distribution that occurred in the past decade.
Some of these factors are well-known: the success of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" and the explosive growth of digital distribution services. But other reasons for the shift away from the diverse slate of films include some I would not have considered such as the decline of DVD sales and the emerging importance of China as a movie market.
For anyone who loves movies, the transition from studios making films for all audiences that succeed or fail on their quality and popularity to commoditized branded franchise "product" is depressing. But it's hard to ignore that producing original content is bad business for studios: the hits aren't that profitable and the failures are just as frequent as the franchises. It seems obvious after reading that studios would shift away from mid-budget movies that weren't worth the effort or risk. Still Fritz ultimately strikes a hopeful tone, noting that these types of movies are now being made by Netflix and Amazon and other digital services. Adult dramas, comedies and original concept films aren't disappearing, they'll just be streamed on TV instead of seen in theaters.
Considering how little interest I have in movies, or popular culture in general, I found this very interesting. It explains the various factors, particularly economic, that have changed who has power/influence in terms of what kind of movies get made, and thus has changed significantly the kind of movies that do get made. At the same time, TV has also been changing. I was not aware of this, because I haven't watched TV in ten years, and very little for ten years before that. I still don't think I'm missing anything worthwhile, but according to Fritz there is better stuff available on TV than there used to be. (Of course, "better" is a matter of opinion.) I like to have some idea what is going on in popular culture, even if I don't enjoy much of it (or consider it worth the money even if I do like it), so it was very interesting to read about the changing landscape in movie-making. I didn't recognize a lot of the movies mentioned, but I did know some of them. I never watched much to begin with, but it gives me more understanding of why, on the rare occasions I go with my family to the theater now, each time I come away with a stronger sense that I don't want to go back. Fritz talks about the move away from originality in movies, and from mid-budget dramas, but what I dislike is the almost frantic pace of so many adventure movies. But lots of action and special effects can more easily be marketed to a worldwide market, while appreciation of movies that depend more on dialog and that discuss ideas is affected by sharing a similar culture if not the same language.
Much of the book focuses on explaining the rise in cinematic universes and franchise films, the reasons for which one can pretty much infer with common sense (rise in international box office, advent of online streaming services, etc). But Fritz provides context to many of the studio decisions, he gives names and dates and backstory to the rise of Marvel, the trials of Sony, and the ways companies like Amazon, Netflix and Annapurna are shaking up the game for independent filmmakers and studios alike.
For me, the biggest shock in the book was how Amazon has taken the aim of being a haven for independent cinema, which, according to Fritz, fits amazon's MO: They lose money (by overpaying for a product) in order to establish market dominance. Amazon knows it cannot compete (yet) with big studios, so it wants to establish itself as a "patron of the cinematic arts" in order to attract talent and a certain image to its online streaming service.
As a film nerd, this book helped me come to terms with many of the changes in Hollywood that I have come to lament. It also gave me some hope that there will be many great films to come, despite the changing economics of the film industry (it's just that those great films may end up being TV shows).
Imagine my shock when i learned that a racist hag was responsible for some of my favorite movies being made😭 (the social network, spiderman, LITTLE WOMEN?)
Read this for a class and im glad i did! I never really had any interest in learning about the business side of the film industry but it was actually really interesting (confusing at times) to learn about it, especially since this book is pretty easy to understand.
Pretty fascinating look at the movie business of the 2000s and how things have shifted so dramatically in the last 15 years or so. Gives a level of insight into various trends (rise of cinematic universes, death of mid-budget dramas) and particularly I thought the most interesting big picture observation was that TV used to be the realm of the familiar and movies the place to see something different and exciting, and now the role of those mediums has switched.
For a book that made such big waves when it came out it's interesting to see how several sections are out of date already (the hubris of what some people thought could be turned into a "cinematic universe" is truly hilarious) but it's a really insightful snapshot into so much of what is changing in Hollywood. Must read if you're a big fan of movies (and wondering what their future is).
Panoramic overview of the many ways the movie business is changing
Cleverly uses the hacked Sony emails as a window into the struggles of an old school studio boss, Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, to adjust to the new realities of a franchise dominated, digitally disrupted Hollywood. The rest is well researched and a fascinating look at how tech companies, studio refugees, comic book and toy companies, China, and others are adapting to the modern film landscape. Highly recommended.
Whoa. This book offers a clear and wide-ranging analysis of Modern Hollywood. If you want to know how the modern movie-making process works, and why big tentpole films reign supreme, Ben Fritz has the answer. He looks through the lenses of a major studio (Sony Pictures), and tracks the economic analysis with the skills of a Wall Street journalist. A must-read for movie fans.
This book provides a very good overview of the movie industry from its past to its present. The author clearly points out the disruption and root causes while diving in depth about each significant player in the industry (ie. Netflix, Amazon, Sony, Disney etc).
This was a book club selection from Ryen Russillo’s podcast, and I haven’t listened to the Ben Fritz interview episode yet but I’m excited to now do so. I really enjoyed much of this book. The insider and behind the scenes stuff in it are great. There is a lot of great stuff on Marvel, Disney, Sony, and studio execs like Amy Pascal, Michael Lynton, and Bob Iger that are insightful and compelling. There’s also a section on Will Smith’s After Earth that is incredible. But for the bulk of this book Fritz does a good job showing the decline of the more typical types of movies that we would see in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Mid to low budget dramas, and comedies with mostly unpredictable successes and failures. That’s all changed with the advent of cinematic universes (Marvel), and endless sequels and reboots.
But unfortunately this book kinda has what I call the Supersize Me Effect. After I watched Supersize Me I immediately went out and had McDonald’s because it sounded so good. And after finishing this book I kinda want to watch an Avengers movie, or maybe Terminator . I even (completely unrelated to this book) started a Jim Jarmusch movie just last night, but turned it off just over halfway through. I don’t know, it seems like I may be part of the problem too.