On the business of Hollywood

I do a lot of research on the business of Hollywood. A post will show some of my work, explain my research process or comment on news items about the business of cinema.

10 most recent posts

When Hollywood defines the limits of good cinema

On the question of who judges the quality of a film, it is easy to start with a notion that the ultimate judge of a film’s quality is the individual moviegoer. As individual moviegoers, this is often what we think we are doing: we have the autonomy “decide for ourselves” if a film is good…

Do all roads lead to the Oscars? Part II

[ missed Part I? you can read it here ] We ended the last post with a scenario of someone dreaming of their film going all the way to the Academy Awards. But I also waved away any dreamy smoke that clouds our imaginations about this outcome. As was shown in Figure 5, which is…

Do all roads lead to the Oscars? Part I

Sitting through the Academy Awards ceremony can be frustrating if you watch a lot of films. The breadth of your viewings has given you the perspective to see how some very good films are either receiving small numbers of nominations or are outright ignored across all categories. This type of frustration can also build months…

Making culture rational … with power

A survey of academic writing on the business of culture will show that authors seldomly restrain themselves from making predictions or giving recommendations to the hypothetical economic actor. This offering of future-oriented arguments to an audience should not be surprising. The disciplines of economics, business, management studies and public policy teach people to theorize market…

Hollywood’s mantra: “Nobody knows anything”

Your movie turned out the be a flop? “Nobody knows anything”. You mistakenly believed consumers wanted to see a movie set in the 1920s? “Nobody knows anything”. You thought your casting decisions were going to be loved by all? “Nobody knows anything”. “Nobody knows anything”–this was the opening line of Adventures in the Screen Trade,…

Why Scorsese is right about corporate power, Part 2

Missed Part 1? Read it here. Part 1 introduced Scorsese’s argument in his Harper’s essay, which was about much more than Fellini. The first part also explained how we can connect Scorsese’s essay to the drive in the Hollywood film business for major film distributors to differentially accumulate, i.e., beat a benchmark that is relevant…

When Hollywood gets repetitive: casting

Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is a telling example of Hollywood rationalizing its so-called inability to widen the boundaries of its creativity. In this case, the boundaries concern Hollywood’s tendency to reserve roles for its biggest stars, even when a big star appears unfit for the role in question. Much of the pre-release journalism…

Why Scorsese is right about corporate power, Part 1

What is more pleasurable: reading Martin Scorsese on cinema or reading reactions to Scorsese on cinema? The reactions compete for our pleasure because they reveal how easy it is for someone’s words to make us jump into a debate with two feet and eyes closed. In the March 2021 issue of Harper’s, Scorsese wrote an…

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