The Big Picture
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.

The Big Picture Details

TitleThe Big Picture
Author
ReleaseMar 6th, 2018
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Culture, Film

The Big Picture Review

  • Zachary Houle
    January 1, 1970
    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 f 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.Read the rest here: https://medium.com/@zachary_houle/a-r...
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  • Matt Arena
    January 1, 1970
    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 e 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.
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  • Tnpruett
    January 1, 1970
    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 s 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.
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  • Sara Goldenberg
    January 1, 1970
    Long story short, people are stupid. That's what the book says. People don't want new, creative things, they want the same old-same old; things they already know. Feh.
  • Ramon
    January 1, 1970
    There's nothing here that really comes across as surprising or shocking if you've been paying attention to the industry, but it's nice to see just how and why it unfolded in specific ways; in this case, at Sony, who have been slow to adjust. The first half of the book uses the hacked Sony documents to show how the change of the last 10 years flummoxed them, and the second half is about how Disney rose to prominence and flattened the competition but also a lot of the creativity. Entertaining and There's nothing here that really comes across as surprising or shocking if you've been paying attention to the industry, but it's nice to see just how and why it unfolded in specific ways; in this case, at Sony, who have been slow to adjust. The first half of the book uses the hacked Sony documents to show how the change of the last 10 years flummoxed them, and the second half is about how Disney rose to prominence and flattened the competition but also a lot of the creativity. Entertaining and a breezy read.
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  • Danilo DiPietro
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent analysis of the current and future state of the movie industry. Another example of an industry in turmoil as it attempts to adapt to new technology, non traditional competitors and the emergence of China. Very good read.
  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating look into the state of the motion picture industry. A cautionary tale that is partly out of date before it is published but, instead of taking away from the quality of the book, only serves to underscore its central thesis. A must read for all fans of film.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    An unsurprising but interesting look at the current trajectory of Hollywood and the rise of franchises and downfall of cinema. Definitely a must-read for those studying or interested in film.
  • Mian
    January 1, 1970
    Pretty good but needs more Fincher quotes from the Sony email leaks
  • Danuel
    January 1, 1970
    An eye opening read. Elucidates everything that happens in Hollywood today.
  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Added based on author appearance on Slate Money.
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