The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood

By Edward Jay Epstein

Through the heyday of the studio method spanning the Nineteen Thirties, ‘40s, and ‘50s, almost all of the American movie industry’s funds, strength, and status got here from a unmarried job: promoting tickets on the field place of work. this day, the motion picture company is simply a small, hugely seen outpost in a media universe managed by means of six corporations–Sony, Time Warner, NBC common, Viacom, Disney, and NewsCorporation. those conglomerates view motion pictures as a part of a big, synergistic, vertically built-in money-making undefined.

In The vast Picture, acclaimed author Edward Jay Epstein provides an extraordinary, sweeping, and punctiliously exciting account of the genuine magic at the back of moviemaking: how the studios make their funds. Epstein exhibits how, in Hollywood, the single artwork that concerns is the paintings of the deal: significant motion pictures flip large gains, now not from the flicks themselves yet via myriad different agencies, corresponding to video-game spin-offs, fast-food tie-ins, soundtracks, or even theme-park rides.

The studios may possibly compete with each other for stars, exposure, box-office
receipts, and Oscars; their company mom and dad, even if, make fortunes
from cooperation (and collusion) with each other in much less glamorous markets, reminiscent of cable, domestic video, and pay-TV.

But funds is barely a part of the Hollywood tale; the social and political milieus–power, status, and status–tell the remainder. along striking monetary revelations, the massive photograph is stuffed with eye-opening actual Hollywood insider tales. We learn the way the promise of unfastened cowboy boots for a manufacturer not on time an important movie’s taking pictures time table; why stars by no means practice their very own stunts, regardless of what the grocery store tabloids declare; how video clips deliberately form political sensibilities, either in the US and in another country; and why fifteen-year-olds dictate the type of low-grade fare that has flooded displays around the nation.

Epstein additionally deals incisive profiles of the pioneers, together with Louis B. Mayer, who helped construct Hollywood, and introduces us to the visionaries–Walt Disney, Akio Morita, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Ross, Sumner Redstone, David Sarnoff–power agents who, by way of dint of innovation and deception, created and keep watch over the media that mould our lives. while you are attracted to Hollywood at the present time and the complicated and engaging manner it has developed with the intention to live to tell the tale, you haven’t visible the large photograph till you’ve learn The great Picture.

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The studios’ technological gear incorporated synchronous historical past projection, which allowed them to seamlessly combine actors in present motion pictures with inventory pictures from their huge movie libraries and with movie shot somewhere else by way of moment devices. additionally they had animation cameras to transform miniaturized versions, puppets, and different replicas into the semblance of full-scale phenomena. To do all this, a veritable military of electricians, digicam operators, seamstresses, make-up artists, set dressers, sound engineers, and different technicians have been paid weekly wages.

In accepting Ohga’s “automobile wheel” analogy, Morita not just suggested a brand new direction for Sony yet helped regulate the path of Hollywood. The expertise that will noticeably rework video clips as a house leisure was once the electronic disc. through the past due Eighties, it had develop into transparent to Sony—as good as its imperative competitors in Japan—that a similar electronic expertise that had led to the CD may be utilized to videos. certainly, there has been no conceptual distinction among those and zeroes that represented the knowledge in a Beethoven symphony and those who represented the image point, or “pixels,” in a Hollywood motion picture.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agreement: Oak Productions, agreement for the performing companies of Arnold Schwarzenegger for Terminator three, December 10, 2001, “a kind of stick-figured playback”: paintings Linson, A Pound of Flesh: Perilous stories of ways to provide videos in Hollywood (New York: Grove Press, 1993), pp. 133–34. “visually click on together”: Interview via writer, 2001. Stone selected Cameron Diaz: Interview by way of writer, 2002. took a crimson pen to the script: Bruce Orwall, “Why Michael Eisner are available Laboring in Walt Disney’s Trenches,” Wall road magazine, November 7, 2001 (Internet edition).

Whereas they distribute their motion pictures in additional than 100 international locations, quite a few of these account for the lion’s percentage in their out of the country gains. In 2003, 8 countries—Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Mexico, Italy, and Australia—provided lots of the international sales for the foremost studios (Table 4). hence, the studios’ valuable concentration is on those 8 international locations. desk four. significant STUDIO profit FROM eight most sensible international MARKETS, 2003 (MILLIONS OF U. S. cash) kingdom Theater leases Japan 450 Germany 392 Britain 344 Spain 248 France 242 Australia 166 Italy 154 Mexico 124 overall, eight nations 2,120 overall, All out of the country Markets (Excluding Canada) 3,272 to make sure that their movies are good positioned in those markets, studios depend upon distribution fingers below their regulate.

Zanuck, reviewed Kazan’s day-by-day growth in the course of the twelve weeks of construction. Zanuck then supervised the film’s enhancing and musical rating. Absolute authority over the inventive procedure were invested within the studio head ever in view that Irving Thalberg at MGM had perfected the procedure within the past due Nineteen Twenties. Zanuck had produced a hundred and seventy of Fox’s movies, and Gentleman’s contract, which he had supervised from begin to end, used to be no exception. while Kazan permitted the Oscar for Gentleman’s contract that evening, the movie was once nonetheless, 4 months after starting on the Mayfair Theater in manhattan, in its first run.

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