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One of BusinessWeek's Top 10 Business Books of 2005
In The Big Picture, acclaimed writer Edward Jay Epstein gives an unprecedented, sweeping, and thoroughly entertaining account of the real magic behind moviemaking: how the studios make their money. Epstein shows how, 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, such as video-game spin-offs, fast-food tie-ins, soundtracks, and even theme-park rides.
The studios may compete with one another for stars, publicity, box-office receipts, and Oscars; their corporate parents, however, make fortunes from cooperation (and collusion) with one another in less glamorous markets, such as cable, home video, and pay-TV.
But money is only part of the Hollywood story; the social and political milieus–power, prestige, and status–tell the rest. Alongside remarkable financial revelations, The Big Picture is filled with eye-opening true Hollywood insider stories. We learn how the promise of free cowboy boots for a producer delayed a major movie’s shooting schedule; why stars never perform their own stunts, despite what the supermarket tabloids claim; how movies intentionally shape political sensibilities, both in America and abroad; and why fifteen-year-olds dictate the kind of low-grade fare that has flooded screens across the country.
Epstein also offers incisive profiles of the pioneers, including Louis B. Mayer, who helped build Hollywood, and introduces us to the visionaries–Walt Disney, Akio Morita, Rupert Murdoch, Steve Ross, Sumner Redstone, David Sarnoff–power brokers who, by dint of innovation and deception, created and control the media that mold our lives. 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.
Praise for The Big Picture:
"This is the new indispensable text for anyone interested in how Hollywood works." —Publisher's Weekly
“Though Epstein essentially synthesizes scores of published essays and interviews, this will be the go-to book for those interested in the anatomy of the Hollywood movie business. The book profits from its edgy, punchy style. Both an analysis and a narrative of the classic Hollywood oligarchy and its decline and replacement by vast international conglomerates of every aspect of electric communication--movies, DVDs, even the decals on kids’ lunchboxes--the book provides a richly detailed picture of the inner workings of this worldwide institution. Highly recommended.”
— Choice Magazine