cover image The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies

The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies

Ben Fritz. HMH/Eamon Dolan, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-544-78976-0

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. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Mar.)