The habits of Netflix’s users

Originally published at notes on cinema James McMahon Like other streaming services, Netflix does not make its user data public. To date, there are two exceptions to this privacy. Netflix released a large dataset of anonymized user activity when it offered a one million dollar prize for the best AI model that could predict user […]

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McMahon, ‘The Political Economy of Hollywood’

Abstract In Hollywood, the goals of art and business are entangled. Directors, writers, actors, and idealistic producers aspire to make the best films possible. These aspirations often interact with the dominant firms that control Hollywood film distribution. This control of distribution is crucial as it enables the firms and other large businesses involved, such as […]

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2022/01: McMahon, ‘Star power and risk: A political economic study of casting trends in Hollywood’

Abstract This paper builds an empirical and theoretical model to analyze how the financial goal of risk reduction changed the insides of Hollywood’s star system. For the moviegoer looking at Hollywood cinema from the outside, the function of the star system has remained the same since the 1920s: to have recognizable actors attract large audiences […]

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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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McMahon, ‘What Makes Hollywood Run? Capitalist Power, Risk and the Control of Social Creativity’

Abstract This dissertation combines an interest in political economy, political theory and cinema to offer an answer about the pace of the Hollywood film business and its general modes of behaviour. More specifically, this dissertation seeks to find out how the largest Hollywood firms attempt to control social creativity such that the art of filmmaking […]

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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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