A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Winner of the Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at the 2018 National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
“Ben Fritz crafts an electrifying and essential book that carefully chronicles how Hollywood tradition is collapsing and new models are fueling the future. A must-read.”—Ava DuVernay, director of A Wrinkle in Time, Selma, and 13th
The stunning metamorphosis of twenty-first-century Hollywood and what lies ahead for the art and commerce of film
Ben Fritz chronicles the dramatic shakeup of America’s film industry, bringing equal fluency to both the financial and entertainment aspects of Hollywood. He offers us an unprecedented look deep inside a Hollywood studio to explain why sophisticated movies for adults are an endangered species while franchises and super-heroes have come to dominate the cinematic landscape. And through interviews with dozens of key players at Disney, Marvel, Netflix, Amazon, Imax, and others, he reveals how the movie business is being reinvented.
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 entertainment will look like in the new era.
For anyone wondering why the current output of Hollywood is so dissatisfying, journalist Fritz (coauthor of All the President's Spin) has a simple explanation: greed. Drawing in large part on the hacked emails of Amy Pascal, the Sony Pictures chief with a reputation for nurturing talent and championing mid-budget adult dramas, Fritz succinctly lays out the economics behind the current dominance of big-budget franchise movies over smaller, character-driven films. Nowhere is this more evident than in the diverging fates of two studios, Sony and Disney. Pascal's Sony, which from the 1990s onwards emphasized "mid-sized interesting movies" such as Jerry Maguire and As Good as It Gets, increasingly found in the 2000s that this formula could not compete with even one franchise movie Disney's The Avengers alone grossed $1.5 billion. Fritz also recounts the rise of Marvel Studios, Amazon and Netflix's embrace of the smaller films that major studios now ignore, and the role of Chinese investors in keeping Hollywood afloat. Pascal emerges as an almost tragic figure, someone "who had lost herself" or at least "a place for people like her" in today's Hollywood. Fritz's book is a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at the forces that determine what gets played at the local cineplex.