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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When Hollywood gets repetitive: casting

Originally published at notes on cinema James McMahon Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is a telling example of Hollywood rationalizing its so-called inability to widen the boundaries of its creativity. In this case, the boundaries concern Hollywood’s tendency to reserve roles for its biggest stars, even when a big star appears unfit for the […]

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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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McMahon, ‘Is Hollywood a Risky Business? A Political Economic Analysis of Risk and Creativity’

Abstract 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 […]

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Holman & McMahon, ‘From Power over Creation to the Power of Creation: Cornelius Castoriadis on Democratic Cultural Creation and the Case of Hollywood’

Abstract This article is a critical investigation and application of the aesthetic theory of Cornelius Castoriadis, one of the most important 20th-century theorists of radical democracy. We outline Castoriadis’s thoughts on autonomy, the social-historical nature of Being, and creation — key elements that inform his model of democratic culture. We then develop a Castoriadian critique […]

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Is Hollywood running out of risk?

Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan Repost from Real-World Economics Review Blog If we are to believe the conventional creed, Hollywood films are highly risky investments. According to De Vany, revenue forecasts have zero precision, which is just a way of saying that ‘anything can happen’. . . . The ‘nobody knows’ principle . . . is revealed in the infinite […]

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

Working Paper No. 2014/01 James McMahon, “Capitalist Power, Distribution and the Order of Cinema” 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 […]

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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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McMahon, ‘The Rise of a Confident Hollywood: Risk and the Capitalization of Cinema’

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 financial rankings of its films. More specifically, the Hollywood film business has become better at predicting […]

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