McMahon, ‘Is Hollywood a Risky Business? A Political Economic Analysis of Risk and Creativity’
September 19, 2018
This paper seeks to explain why Hollywood’s dominant firms are narrowing the scope of creativity in the contemporary period (1980–2015). The largest distributors have sought to prevent the art of filmmaking and its related social relations from becoming financial risks in the pursuit of profit. Major filmed entertainment, my term for the six largest distributors, must discount expected future earnings to present prices with the forward-looking logic of capitalisation; and uncertainty about where creativity in cinema is going can produce financial uncertainty about the future earning potential of new film projects. Conversely, a degree of confidence in the expected future earnings of Hollywood cinema can increase when the art of filmmaking and broader social world of mass culture are ordered by capitalist power [Nitzan, J. and Bichler, S., 2009. Capital as power: a study of order and creorder. New York: Routledge]. For the period of 1980–2015, major filmed entertainment lowered its risk relative to the period before, 1960–79. This historical process of risk reduction is the effect of major filmed entertainment making the wide-release strategy (a.k.a., saturation booking) more predictable through an aggressive implementation of the blockbuster style and the high concept standard.
Is Hollywood a Risky Business? A Political Economic Analysis of Risk and Creativity
McMahon, James. (2018). New Political Economy. No. OnlineFirst. 13 April. pp. 1-24.