BLOCKBUSTER: Or, How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer

Tom Shone, Author . Free Press $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7432-3568-6

Shone's first book is an entertaining chronological survey of top-grossing films during the past 30 summers, beginning with Universal's Jaws (1975). The Steven Spielberg film became a phenomenon, breaking the $100-million mark. When movie attendance was at an all-time low in the early 1970s, Shone explains, studios had been keeping costs down, but they changed that tactic and began spending more and developing new marketing and merchandising methods. It worked. By that decade's end, box office returns had tripled, due to 22 films, each earning more than $50 million. Ticket sales soared as Paramount went from The Godfather to Grease , Fox launched Star Wars and Columbia scored with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To trace the evolution of summer blockbuster films through three decades, Shone, former London Sunday Times film critic, interviewed more than 40 talents, including Spielberg, John Lasseter, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Sigourney Weaver and Richard Zanuck. He devotes full chapters to Titanic ("the world's first billion-dollar blockbuster") and other "event movies." Although reams have been published about such films as Alien and Blade Runner , Shone writes with verve, producing a probing, intelligent analysis. Photos. (Dec. 7)

FYI: Dade Hayes and Jonathan Bing's forthcoming Open Wide: Inside the Blockbuster Movie Factory (Forecasts, Aug. 23) covers similar ground .

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-7432-3991-2
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-7432-7431-9
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