As I begin this 52 book journey, I knew I had to start off with something interesting. So, picking up the book Blockbusters was a win/win. For one, I would be reading something informational about entertainment. Another reason is that I would get an informed opinion about business decisions I didn’t always necessarily agree with. To put it bluntly, I wanted to read about something that I did not care for.
Many of you may wonder: what is it that I didn’t care for?
I didn’t care for the use of “tent-pole” movies. At times, I felt that these movies were used way too much and did way too little for cinema (in a sense). It made sense to “try to milk the cow” as much as possible. However, too many movies were reeking of “rerun”, “remedial”, and “reheated in the microwave”. As successful as the practice of making the blockbuster movie is, I thought it disrupted the potential of movie making as a whole.
After reading what Anita Elberse has to say about the situation, I come with a necessary revelation about blockbuster movies: they are a necessary evil that accentuates our human habits toward entertainment.
If people truly understood how the numbers and figures worked, then they wouldn’t ask about the existence of the “big movie”. Looking at the statistics, one would see that the top 25% of expensive movies take up the most production costs, worldwide sales, and percentage of surplus . From those stats, one would see the bigger investments acquiring the bigger rewards. In opposite, the bottom 25% make up the 6% production costs, 5% for worldwide sales, and 4% for % of surplus . Thus, it can be said that big time, “tent pole” movies are the bigger cash cow.
This “blockbuster mentality” is not only exclusive to movies; it has shown prevalence in other aspects of entertainment as well. If we ever pay attention to how sports stars like Lebron James broker multiple endorsement deals or how Jay-Z made the release of his book Decoded, you would know that the “big event” is eye catching and magnetic. Lady Gaga would not be the star that she is today if not for her “over-the-top presence” and hardcore, over-encompassing marketing campaigns. It has even trickled down to the soccer world, where players like David Beckham are household names with endorsements and adoration. It is safe to say that we, as consumers, want the “cream to rise to the top”.
Oddly enough, according to this book, technology hasn’t hampered the blockbuster. People worried about technology either hastening sales extremely (illegal downloads) or people becoming more independent of bigger companies (say Radiohead with their album In Rainbows). Yet, all of these situations have not allowed for a “disintermediation” of power. People still gravitate to “what is big” or “what is hot and new”. Independence only have led to either more concentrate rewards for top tier artists and creative ways for bigger companies to make a dollar (i.e. 360 deals in the record business). In summation, technology hasn’t halted the blockbuster; it has only assisted in its strength.
Conclusively, Blockbusters is a tome worthy of reading for the study of how “big campaigns” reign supreme in the world of entertainment. Many of us may not agree with it all the time (i.e. yours truly and, ironically enough, George Clooney). However, this “winner takes all” mentality that exists in entertainment shall be here for a while. So, the next time one takes time to watch that next X-Men movie coming out and they get their popcorn, I hope they understand that massive campaigns calls for massive returns. Otherwise, no one would truly go all out for anything if it didn’t work to encompass everyone.
‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!