Making culture rational … with power

Originally published at notes on cinema James McMahon A survey of academic writing on the business of culture will show that authors seldomly restrain themselves from making predictions or giving recommendations to the hypothetical economic actor. This offering of future-oriented arguments to an audience should not be surprising. The disciplines of economics, business, management studies […]

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Hollywood’s mantra: “Nobody knows anything”

Originally published at notes on cinema James McMahon Your movie turned out the be a flop? “Nobody knows anything”. You mistakenly believed consumers wanted to see a movie set in the 1920s? “Nobody knows anything”. You thought your casting decisions were going to be loved by all? “Nobody knows anything”. “Nobody knows anything”–this was the […]

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Why Scorcese is right about corporate power, Part 2

Originally published at notes on cinema James McMahon Part 1 introduced Scorcese’s argument in his Harper’s essay, which was about much more than Fellini. The first part also explained how we can connect Scorcese’s essay to the drive in the Hollywood film business for major film distributors to differentially accumulate, i.e., beat a benchmark that […]

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2019/03: McMahon, ‘Selling Hollywood to China’

Abstract From the 1980s to the present, Hollywood’s major distributors have been able to redistribute U.S. theatrical attendance to the advantage of their biggest blockbusters and franchises. At the global scale and during the same period, Hollywood has been leveraging U.S. foreign power to break ground in countries that have historically protected and supported their […]

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No. 2014/01: McMahon, ‘Capitalist Power, Distribution and the Order of Cinema’

Abstract In this paper, the structure of Hollywood film distribution will be analyzed through the lens of risk. In both its technical and conceptual senses, risk is relevant to the study of Hollywood’s dominant firms. In the interest of lowering risk, the business interests of Hollywood look to predetermine how new films will function in […]

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The Rise of a Confident Hollywood: Risk and the Capitalization of Cinema

The Rise of a Confident Hollywood Risk and the Capitalization of Cinema JAMES MCMAHON February 2013 Abstract This paper investigates the historical development of risk in the Hollywood film business. Using opening theatres as a proxy for future expectations, the paper demonstrates how, from 1981 to 2011, Hollywood has improved its ability to predict the […]

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