Monday, February 28, 2005

At the movies

From Jonathan Yardley's review of Edward Jay Epstein's The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood:

Filmmaking now divides essentially into two broad categories: blockbusters (no, I didn't know that the word is "a term coined in the 1920s to denote a movie whose long line of customers could not be contained on a single city block") or would-be blockbusters, and more serious films made by "independent subsidiaries" to earn Big Six corporations and their ranking executives "the awards, media recognition, artistic bragging rights and other non-economic rewards they sought in Hollywood."

The blockbusters are aimed at children and teenagers and are scripted according to "the Midas formula," the ingredients of which include "a child or adolescent protagonist," a "fairy-tale plot in which a weak or ineffectual youth is transformed into a powerful and purposeful hero," "bizarre-looking and eccentric supporting characters that are appropriate for toy and game licensing," a happy ending "with the hero prevailing over powerful villains and supernatural forces" and "conventional or digital animation to artificially create action sequences, supernatural forces . . . and elaborate settings." In two words: "Harry Potter." In four: "Lord of the Rings."
You can read the entire review by clicking here.

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