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Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment

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Why the future of popular culture will revolve around ever bigger bets on entertainment products, by one of Harvard Business School's most popular professors What's behind the phenomenal success of entertainment businesses such as Warner Bros., Marvel Entertainment, and the NFL—along with such stars as Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and LeBron James? Which strategies give leaders in fil Why the future of popular culture will revolve around ever bigger bets on entertainment products, by one of Harvard Business School's most popular professors What's behind the phenomenal success of entertainment businesses such as Warner Bros., Marvel Entertainment, and the NFL—along with such stars as Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and LeBron James? Which strategies give leaders in film, television, music, publishing, and sports an edge over their rivals? Anita Elberse, Harvard Business School's expert on the entertainment industry, has done pioneering research on the worlds of media and sports for more than a decade. Now, in this groundbreaking book, she explains a powerful truth about the fiercely competitive world of entertainment: building a business around blockbuster products—the movies, television shows, songs, and books that are hugely expensive to produce and market—is the surest path to long-term success. Along the way, she reveals why entertainment executives often spend outrageous amounts of money in search of the next blockbuster, why superstars are paid unimaginable sums, and how digital technologies are transforming the entertainment landscape. Full of inside stories emerging from Elberse's unprecedented access to some of the world's most successful entertainment brands, Blockbusters is destined to become required reading for anyone seeking to understand how the entertainment industry really works—and how to navigate today's high-stakes business world at large.


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Why the future of popular culture will revolve around ever bigger bets on entertainment products, by one of Harvard Business School's most popular professors What's behind the phenomenal success of entertainment businesses such as Warner Bros., Marvel Entertainment, and the NFL—along with such stars as Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and LeBron James? Which strategies give leaders in fil Why the future of popular culture will revolve around ever bigger bets on entertainment products, by one of Harvard Business School's most popular professors What's behind the phenomenal success of entertainment businesses such as Warner Bros., Marvel Entertainment, and the NFL—along with such stars as Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and LeBron James? Which strategies give leaders in film, television, music, publishing, and sports an edge over their rivals? Anita Elberse, Harvard Business School's expert on the entertainment industry, has done pioneering research on the worlds of media and sports for more than a decade. Now, in this groundbreaking book, she explains a powerful truth about the fiercely competitive world of entertainment: building a business around blockbuster products—the movies, television shows, songs, and books that are hugely expensive to produce and market—is the surest path to long-term success. Along the way, she reveals why entertainment executives often spend outrageous amounts of money in search of the next blockbuster, why superstars are paid unimaginable sums, and how digital technologies are transforming the entertainment landscape. Full of inside stories emerging from Elberse's unprecedented access to some of the world's most successful entertainment brands, Blockbusters is destined to become required reading for anyone seeking to understand how the entertainment industry really works—and how to navigate today's high-stakes business world at large.

30 review for Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nick Davies

    Immediately previous to reading this book, I read a book about death row inmates that was pretty depressing. This non-fiction study of the economics of entertainment (especially in the context of massive spending on a small number of 'blockbusters' - be they films, pop stars, books, sports stars or other) I found even more of a downer. It was an interesting subject, and the author clearly knows her stuff. Examples chosen are explored in detail (slightly too much in places, IMHO, as I did get a li Immediately previous to reading this book, I read a book about death row inmates that was pretty depressing. This non-fiction study of the economics of entertainment (especially in the context of massive spending on a small number of 'blockbusters' - be they films, pop stars, books, sports stars or other) I found even more of a downer. It was an interesting subject, and the author clearly knows her stuff. Examples chosen are explored in detail (slightly too much in places, IMHO, as I did get a little bored) but essentially are just reinforcing the same points. I found much of the exploration of how changes in the new 'digital' age are forcing media powers to adapt from their traditional approaches rather enlightening, but overall it left me a little saddened. This isn't really the fault of the author or the book, it's just the fact it all reinforced the impression that the music, books, films, TV, sports and media we all consume is dictated to us by the most efficient promotion machine - and that even in the modern era where digital media might be expected to provide more freedom of choice, this still isn't really the case.

  2. 5 out of 5

    A. Bowdoin Van Riper

    Blockbusters is a book about the business of entertainment: about risk and reward and the bottom line. It argues that investing vast sums of money in blockbusters and superstar performers is, contrary to intuition, a rational and profitable business strategy. Christine Elberse presents the argument crisply, and illustrates it with case studies that draw in an astonishing range of performers: LeBron James, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey, Maria Sharapova, David Beckham, Maroon Five, Tom Cruise, and Dewey, th Blockbusters is a book about the business of entertainment: about risk and reward and the bottom line. It argues that investing vast sums of money in blockbusters and superstar performers is, contrary to intuition, a rational and profitable business strategy. Christine Elberse presents the argument crisply, and illustrates it with case studies that draw in an astonishing range of performers: LeBron James, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey, Maria Sharapova, David Beckham, Maroon Five, Tom Cruise, and Dewey, the Library Cat among them. I picked up this book because I’m part of one of the industries it covers (publishing) and write about two more of them (movies and television). Her business-driven analysis actually worked best for me, however, in the case studies that I knew the least well. Applied to, say, the nuances of running an elite-level European football club, her approach felt like an entertainment-industry version of The Tipping Point or the essays in Freakonomics: an intriguing, counterintuitive analysis of a complex system. Applied to areas to areas where I have a professional and emotional connection, however, it was more frustrating than enlightening. Elberse’s analysis treats entertainment-industry properties—books, films, musical acts, actors, athletes—as commodities, distinguished from one another by the money it takes to acquire them and they money they bring in. What’s missing is any sense of the nuances that distinguish one piece of entertainment (or one performer) from another: Tom Cruise’s amiable cockiness or Tina Fey’s quicksilver wit, the alien beauty of the computer-animated planet in Avatar or the comforting familiarity of the storyline in Star Wars. She is interested in the fact that John Carter tanked at the box office, but not (for the purposes of the book, at least) in the production and promotion-related details that caused it to tank. It is precisely those nuances and details, however, that people who care deeply about entertainment – fans and creators alike – live and breathe. Being one of those people, I missed that stuff. I felt, by the time I put the book down, like I was reading an analysis of whether or not I should marry my sweetheart that approached the problem entirely in terms of the tax code: full of insight, but devoid of soul. Blockbusters is well worth the time of anybody seriously interested in the entertainment business, but it will appeal most to those who read the phrase with the emphasis firmly on “business.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ian Bost

    2 Stars = "It was OK." There were some parts of this I found interesting, but I think I was hoping for a deeper analysis of the background dynamics of the increasingly "winner-take-all" nature of the media landscape (and beyond). Perhaps this is borne out of a nagging personal frustration that the "long tail" share of the market has shrunk, rather than grown, despite the increasing availability of "empowering" digital technologies. I can't help but link this to the purported "hollowing out" of th 2 Stars = "It was OK." There were some parts of this I found interesting, but I think I was hoping for a deeper analysis of the background dynamics of the increasingly "winner-take-all" nature of the media landscape (and beyond). Perhaps this is borne out of a nagging personal frustration that the "long tail" share of the market has shrunk, rather than grown, despite the increasing availability of "empowering" digital technologies. I can't help but link this to the purported "hollowing out" of the middle class in the US and elsewhere and the increasing gains in income and wealth for the upper classes. As for the author's analysis of the winner-take-all dynamic, it seems to boil down to our limited capacity for paying attention to things--most of us just nibble and graze on the "top content." I got the sense this book is aimed at business readers, and is fact arguing for the validity of making bold blockbuster bets, rather than trying to understand the "why" in any profound way. Fair enough, and duly noted.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    “Blockbuster” is an entertainingly written description of the state of entertainment businesses today. The author, an Ivy League researcher, has investigated the actions and results of a variety of businesses, including publishing, movies, television, professional sports, and even nightclubs. What she found is that the focus on the big blockbuster for these companies continues, and this strategy beats the strategy of spreading bets across a larger number of “product” opportunities. The book incl “Blockbuster” is an entertainingly written description of the state of entertainment businesses today. The author, an Ivy League researcher, has investigated the actions and results of a variety of businesses, including publishing, movies, television, professional sports, and even nightclubs. What she found is that the focus on the big blockbuster for these companies continues, and this strategy beats the strategy of spreading bets across a larger number of “product” opportunities. The book includes a number of detailed case studies in a variety of areas of entertainment, such as Real Madrid’s star-centered strategy, Saturday Night Live’s employment contract, Radiohead’s internet album distribution, and Jay Z partnering with many companies including Microsoft on promoting his book. Tidbits taken from "Blockbuster": - While technology has made “the long tail” possible, blockbusters, those extremely popular bits of entertainment, are what makes the big money. - With a blockbuster, like a hot book, movie, record, or sports team, there are always ancillary ways to make additional money. For sports teams, sell players or start farm clubs. For media, there’s licensing and sequels and line extensions and trying new distribution methods and unbundling/repackaging. And in the case of “Saturday Night Live” some predatory employment contracting. Partners tend to be required. - As the entertainment marketplace can be fickle, entertainers tend to be conservative with money when starting out, becoming more risk seeking after they have built a base. This contrasts to other occupations like lawyering, where lawyers can take risks (say investing) with their earnings when starting their career, knowing that a steady paycheck will likely be in the cards for them. - The book ends by exposing blockbuster thinking beyond entertainment, including nightclubs and Apple products, Burberry and Red Bull, making media events to sell product. To me, this kind of book describes a change in the business environment that perhaps hasn’t been widely noticed (I know I hadn’t thought about it, although I’m not in the industry so that’s probably why). Based on the research and the case studies, there is a huge roll for technology to be used to find new ways to monetize entertainment properties. In addition, because the making of a blockbuster can involve many moving parts in many areas, the use of partners with expertise in those areas is becoming more of a requirement. The example of Jay Z’s book promotion, including a national treasure hunt and hidden clues throughout the internet, illustrated his needs for technology partners like Microsoft as well as event and PR planners. I found the book easy to listen to and it kept my attention throughout. This is not an academic book in tone, it is much more a pop science or pop business book, which surprised me given the author’s history. Given the non-academic tone and interesting variety of topics, I think the audiobook was a good choice compared to reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Lieberman

    I am generally leery of books where the author posits a provocative wide-ranging thesis. Its probably largely Malcolm Gladwell's fault. So naturally I approached Anita Elberse's Blockbusters with some trepidation. She makes the claim that focusing on high-stakes major campaigns is essential to succeeding in today's entertainment industry and she employs a plethora of examples and research from movies, sports, books, music, and television to support her case. While it can be a bit dry at times, B I am generally leery of books where the author posits a provocative wide-ranging thesis. Its probably largely Malcolm Gladwell's fault. So naturally I approached Anita Elberse's Blockbusters with some trepidation. She makes the claim that focusing on high-stakes major campaigns is essential to succeeding in today's entertainment industry and she employs a plethora of examples and research from movies, sports, books, music, and television to support her case. While it can be a bit dry at times, Blockbusters is a very informative and often fascinating examination of the current and future state of the entertainment industry and the increasing importance of tentpole products and campaigns. Elberse is a professor at the Harvard Business School who understandably brings a wealth of knowledge regarding the industry. She also has experience researching topics such as the economic effects of the unbundling of songs from albums on the music industry (bad for record labels). Elberse has built up quite an impressive list of contacts (she actually just co-wrote an article with Sir Alex Ferguson), which greatly enriches the book. Blockbusters is able to glean insights from major players such as Maria Sharapova's agent and Alan Horn, the former president of Warner Bros. Rather than speculating on the strategies behind campaigns, Elberse is able to pick the brains of decision makers. The book's main concept is an intriguing and seemingly counter-intuitive approach to entertainment. Essentially, the strategy of hedging bets with a diverse portfolio of products is not the path to profitability for entertainment entities. They should instead promote a few projects and bet big on their success. Elberse illustrates this point with a huge amount of well-argued statements backed up by data and examples, often with commentary from major players. Her book is wide in scope and ranges from Youtube to major opera houses and Argentinian soccer, yet she manages to explore all subjects in considerable depth. She is also refreshingly objective, acknowledging the drawbacks and inherent risks of the blockbuster strategy and why smaller-scale projects are still valuable (largely to facilitate the continued success of blockbusters). She explains the impact of blockbusters on producers and stars, and her chapters on endorsement deals are especially enlightening. I really enjoyed learning about the rationale behind athletic sponsorships for star athletes, such as when Elberse describes how Lebron James weighed three endorsement deals with different compensation models and King James' thought process behind his decision. And as would probably be expected by a new book, Blockbusters explores how recent technological innovations such as original content on Netflix and YouTube and speculates how they will impact the blockbuster model in the future. Despite the author's academic background, her book is largely readable and suitable for mainstream audiences. Her target audience seems to be the kinds of people who are at least slightly interested in following entertainment trends in places like the Wall Street Journal and Economist. Some basic business knowledge would be nice to get the most out of Blockbusters but there are no complicated formulas or anything and she explains everything in a clear fashion that a layman can understand. She is more concerned with communicating the conclusions resulting from her complicated statistical analyses rather than how she derived them. While the epilogue looks at ways to apply her blockbuster thesis to other fields, this is (mercifully) not the kind of book with workshops every chapter detailing how to apply these lessons to your job. The book is meant to inform and entertain, and it largely succeeds on both counts. At times Blockbusters reads like a case study, which is fine as far as imparting information goes but it doesn't always make for the most captivating reading material. Sometimes the book drags as she explains the nitty-gritty of particular financial details, but it is generally readable and many of the book's conclusions are fascinating. She is able to pack a ton of information and insight into the book and it improved my understanding of the entertainment business more than any other book. In Sum Anyone interested in learning about the current state of the entertainment industry and how it is being affected by technological innovations will get a lot out of Blockbusters. Elberse is able to combine the expertise of an academic with the clarity and eloquence of a journalist. She definitely subscribes to a higher burden of proof than many other books based on supporting a major thesis but even if you remain unconvinced about the blockbuster strategy you can still derive quite a bit of enjoyment and knowledge out of the book. Blockbusters ultimately maintained my interest through most of its pages and is worth seeking out for those interested in the topic. 7/10

  6. 4 out of 5

    Boudewijn

    A book describing the business behind the world of entertainment, media, and sports companies and their 'blockbuster' strategies. Repetitive at times, it gives a good insight why companies use 'blockbuster' strategies in the entertainment area. Read in Dutch A book describing the business behind the world of entertainment, media, and sports companies and their 'blockbuster' strategies. Repetitive at times, it gives a good insight why companies use 'blockbuster' strategies in the entertainment area. Read in Dutch

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy Neftzger

    The author consolidates and synthesizes 10 years of research to dissect and evaluate the "blockbuster" strategy that most entertainment companies use in marketing their products. She uses examples from book publishing, the film and music industries, and professional sports. If you work in one of these fields, I highly recommend this book. The author provides data supporting the blockbuster strategy and explains why the "long tail" theory of purchasing behavior doesn't work as well as originally The author consolidates and synthesizes 10 years of research to dissect and evaluate the "blockbuster" strategy that most entertainment companies use in marketing their products. She uses examples from book publishing, the film and music industries, and professional sports. If you work in one of these fields, I highly recommend this book. The author provides data supporting the blockbuster strategy and explains why the "long tail" theory of purchasing behavior doesn't work as well as originally hypothesized. The short summary is that the Entertainment industry is built on blockbusters and no company can survive in these industries without them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cullen Haynes

    'There's no Business like Show Business' - Irving Berlin Blockbusters, by one of Harvard Business School's most popular professors Anita Elberse, looks to answer the question of what lies behind the risk-taking, hit-making and big business of entertainment. Have your ever wondered why actors, pop-stars and football heroes command paid 8 figure salaries, or what's more, asked the question, are they worth it? I mean, what is the tangible ROI on such unimaginable sums these entertainment executives c 'There's no Business like Show Business' - Irving Berlin Blockbusters, by one of Harvard Business School's most popular professors Anita Elberse, looks to answer the question of what lies behind the risk-taking, hit-making and big business of entertainment. Have your ever wondered why actors, pop-stars and football heroes command paid 8 figure salaries, or what's more, asked the question, are they worth it? I mean, what is the tangible ROI on such unimaginable sums these entertainment executives choose to pay? Elberse dares to open this can of worms, and is essential reading for anyone looking to navigate the high-stakes world of the entertainment industry.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stefan Styk

    Interesting book although a little dated. The media environment has changed significantly since this was published in 2013. I liked the last paragraph where it ties this to the broader business community (winner takes all) and wish more time had been spent on broader changes to the economy, not just media, that make blockbusters more successful. Well-researched but slightly dry and repetitive. It took me three months to finish 260 pages...

  10. 5 out of 5

    MacKenzie Green

    The thesis of the book is to prove the higher returns of taking a blockbuster strategy, but I don’t think this book fulfills its thesis. Elberse is far from a media futurist but she’s got some good points. I particularly liked the conversation around brand partnerships, digital media democratizing consumer choice, and some of the case studies. Overall I was underwhelmed by the book, but it did its job.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dasha Velasquez

    Great analytics Incredibly analytical and deep dive into entertainment industry, its processes and what makes the hits stand out. Anita had put together a complex study of how companies, record labels and other industry players are breaking through overwhelming media field to present the product and to insure its success. Highly recommended to those who are interested in entertainment, development of the sphere and current trends

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    For those who love economics and freakonomics, this a book up your alley. It can be dense at times for people not as enthusiastic about these subjects, but there's a ton of cool information and was generally captivating throughout. For those who love economics and freakonomics, this a book up your alley. It can be dense at times for people not as enthusiastic about these subjects, but there's a ton of cool information and was generally captivating throughout.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Franck Vinchon

    Promising vision with expected articulation I believe since a long time that entertainment is a great source of inspiration for all brands - I may have expected a deeper approach to articulate how it might work and understand the pitfalls to overcome. Nice read for sure

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    Although a bit dry at points, many of her predictions from 2013 have become reality. So worth the read. Would love to see an updated version with so much happening in the last seven years. Solid research and ideas spread over movies, music, and sports to prove theroies. Masterful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steven Yenzer

    Accessible and interesting. I learned a lot.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jinling

    The case studies were well written but there wasn't much discussion to conclude the book. The case studies were well written but there wasn't much discussion to conclude the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ariadna73

    This is a book on how some of the most successful businesses work. There was nothing new or out of the extraordinary to catch my eye. I would recommend this one for a really boring layout time between flights. This is the cover information of the book I read: And this is a page with a curious reference to the Real Madrid: the sense of unfairness that when D. Beckham entered the L. A. Galaxy, he made 100 millions while his fellow soccer players made less than 20K a year. Well, I ho This is a book on how some of the most successful businesses work. There was nothing new or out of the extraordinary to catch my eye. I would recommend this one for a really boring layout time between flights. This is the cover information of the book I read: And this is a page with a curious reference to the Real Madrid: the sense of unfairness that when D. Beckham entered the L. A. Galaxy, he made 100 millions while his fellow soccer players made less than 20K a year. Well, I hope you liked this little review. Did you know that I also have a blog? Take a look here: http://lunairereadings.blogspot.com

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    While being fact-intensive, Blockbusters is a highly informative and entertaining read for those interested in business and marketing in general and the entertainment industy more specifically. It began with the green-lighting of feature films then went on to discuss television shows and networks, the music industry, and other celebrities for their marketability and profitability. Other key components include the importance of branding and the ever-changing technology that allows more widespread While being fact-intensive, Blockbusters is a highly informative and entertaining read for those interested in business and marketing in general and the entertainment industy more specifically. It began with the green-lighting of feature films then went on to discuss television shows and networks, the music industry, and other celebrities for their marketability and profitability. Other key components include the importance of branding and the ever-changing technology that allows more widespread distribution channels. Throughout the book, there are dozens of exemplifications (including Tom Cruise, the MLB, Lady Gaga, etc.) and dozens of charts, graphs, and tables to further illustrate the point. Seeing as how I come to this book lacking a business/marketing degree, I still found the information presented easy enough to understand, the author commentary entertaining (often times humorous). While it may at times seem daunting that a Harvard Business School professor is writing this book, it adds to the credibility of the work and the notes section provide many more sources to view when interested in a particular story/factoid presented. This isn't a book I'd pick up as a casual read while at the beach, but one I enjoyed reading from a more academically-minded perspective.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Scott Carpinteri

    Overall the book was pretty interesting. It starts off by defending why it makes economic case for movie studios to pursue huge blockbuster projects. I expected the book to go into more detail on the film industry. Unfortunately, this is only about 20% of the book at best. The remainder of the book tries to fit this thesis into other aspects of the "entertainment" industry. Some of these examples are rather good -- like in book publishing -- but some of them are weak, and worse, long-winded. She Overall the book was pretty interesting. It starts off by defending why it makes economic case for movie studios to pursue huge blockbuster projects. I expected the book to go into more detail on the film industry. Unfortunately, this is only about 20% of the book at best. The remainder of the book tries to fit this thesis into other aspects of the "entertainment" industry. Some of these examples are rather good -- like in book publishing -- but some of them are weak, and worse, long-winded. She goes on and on about soccer. While it is a good point, we don't need nearly the amount of detail she gave to make her point. The final 10% or so of the book goes on and on and on about the book deal that Jay Z made and the deals related to the accompanying promotions. The stories were interesting enough but this was one of the weaker parallels she made to Blockbuster strategies. In fact, this section of the book was very disjointed, nonlinear, and kept repeating some of the same facts over and over again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    Overall a good, useful read. I played a bit fast and loose with the chapters, sticking with what interested me and skipping over things that felt boring. My key takeaways were sort of depressing: 1) While discussing EPL and soccer worldwide: either you have a lot of cash and invest a lot of money in acquiring the world's best players, ie Real Madrid, or you have a little cash and invest in making your players--often just starting in the big leagues--the best they can be, and make money off their Overall a good, useful read. I played a bit fast and loose with the chapters, sticking with what interested me and skipping over things that felt boring. My key takeaways were sort of depressing: 1) While discussing EPL and soccer worldwide: either you have a lot of cash and invest a lot of money in acquiring the world's best players, ie Real Madrid, or you have a little cash and invest in making your players--often just starting in the big leagues--the best they can be, and make money off their sale to better-funded teams, ie Boca Juniors. 2) In order to make an impact in the future, marketing campaigns will need to be generated to use multiple investors--think artist + publisher + additional corporate giant. Someone's going to need to coordinate all that, and artists are going to need to be aware of it as they create.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phil Simon

    This was an enjoyable read. I particularly liked the author's thoughts on Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. As someone who is written five previous books, I also enjoyed reading about how the Blockbuster strategy applies to the world of publishing. Self-publishing might have made it easy for people to create their own books, but getting to the next level is virtually impossible. The case studies are particularly strong, and I also enjoyed the analysis around a bevy of different industries. Finally, This was an enjoyable read. I particularly liked the author's thoughts on Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. As someone who is written five previous books, I also enjoyed reading about how the Blockbuster strategy applies to the world of publishing. Self-publishing might have made it easy for people to create their own books, but getting to the next level is virtually impossible. The case studies are particularly strong, and I also enjoyed the analysis around a bevy of different industries. Finally, it was instructive to read about some of the more innovative deals in music, movies, and film. I highly recommend this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thomas N. Bradbury

    One of the best books I have read in a long while. Despite living in LA, I do not know much about how the promotion and publicity industry works, and what models are used to promote certain projects and ideas where others are left to languish. After seeing mention of this book in the New Yorker, I picked up a copy and was impressed immediately with the combination of crystal clear writing, interesting and complex ideas, and plenty of case studies from publishing, TV, music, sports, movies, comed One of the best books I have read in a long while. Despite living in LA, I do not know much about how the promotion and publicity industry works, and what models are used to promote certain projects and ideas where others are left to languish. After seeing mention of this book in the New Yorker, I picked up a copy and was impressed immediately with the combination of crystal clear writing, interesting and complex ideas, and plenty of case studies from publishing, TV, music, sports, movies, comedy, and opera. Read this book to learn why certain entertainment options are trumpeted and while the long tail is not a particularly auspicious business model.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily Martha

    What I most wanted to see was an analysis of WHAT makes a particular story (or whatever) worth making a blockbuster hit, and in that, this book (except with small hints in the introduction) was entirely lacking. It felt deeply soulless and cold. Incredibly well-researched, insightful, and academically above reproach. For MBA students, this would be exactly what they need. But for content producers looking for insights to improve their own work (or the marketability of it), well . . . look elsewhe What I most wanted to see was an analysis of WHAT makes a particular story (or whatever) worth making a blockbuster hit, and in that, this book (except with small hints in the introduction) was entirely lacking. It felt deeply soulless and cold. Incredibly well-researched, insightful, and academically above reproach. For MBA students, this would be exactly what they need. But for content producers looking for insights to improve their own work (or the marketability of it), well . . . look elsewhere. I do not reproach this book for what it is, only for what it isn't (because it could have done both things, and then it itself could have been a blockbuster hit).

  24. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Murphy

    Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elberse Thank you for the book Goodreads. If you enjoy reading about how the entertainment business makes money this is the book for you. It was very interesting. The book is well researched and loaded with examples. The author explains how things used to be done and how and why things have changed. There are examples from the music industry as well as film, books, sports, and even the Met. Any business can ben Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elberse Thank you for the book Goodreads. If you enjoy reading about how the entertainment business makes money this is the book for you. It was very interesting. The book is well researched and loaded with examples. The author explains how things used to be done and how and why things have changed. There are examples from the music industry as well as film, books, sports, and even the Met. Any business can benefit from the insights in this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    An article-length summation would suffice for even most people interested in the entertainment industry. That said, everyone who bemoans the many tentpoles and sequels that dominate the film, t.v. and music industries will have any illusions why it doesn't have to happen obliterated by this book. Stars and hits are made for sound economic reasons, particularly in a globalized age of instant entertainment, and we are left to contemplate the consequences of that for the variety and quality of popu An article-length summation would suffice for even most people interested in the entertainment industry. That said, everyone who bemoans the many tentpoles and sequels that dominate the film, t.v. and music industries will have any illusions why it doesn't have to happen obliterated by this book. Stars and hits are made for sound economic reasons, particularly in a globalized age of instant entertainment, and we are left to contemplate the consequences of that for the variety and quality of popular culture most people experience in their lives. A sobering but illuminating argument.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Kiernan

    This was closer to an overview of blockbuster marketing than a deeply reasoned and researched analysis of why only a blockbuster strategy can succeed. Elberse begins with that premise (that only the biggest projects and campaigns can work), supports it moderately well with some anecdotes, ignores any evidence to the contrary, and then fills the rest of the book with stories about blockbusters that don't beg her premise. It was breezy, and interesting to read about marketing across different busi This was closer to an overview of blockbuster marketing than a deeply reasoned and researched analysis of why only a blockbuster strategy can succeed. Elberse begins with that premise (that only the biggest projects and campaigns can work), supports it moderately well with some anecdotes, ignores any evidence to the contrary, and then fills the rest of the book with stories about blockbusters that don't beg her premise. It was breezy, and interesting to read about marketing across different businesses, but I can't say this is the one business or marketing book one should read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Blockbusters explains how we as humans are always looking for a communal experience. We want to be surrounded by others, share our experiences with others, and talk about the same things as others. Working in the movie industry, I respect how Anita puts research and words into what many of us have been thinking and seeing over the last 10 years. I applaud her for being non-judgmental about it. As we all know, this is really a business about making money that happens to be in an artistic field.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Gombert

    A good introduction. The focus is slanted towards Blockbusters, obviously. She does raise good points, but her disregard of the long tail seems to be premature. While blockbusters do occur and can be created, it seems a little too early to rule one way or the other. She ignores that Blockbusters today, would not crack the top ten of yesterday. Even though these blockbusters still bring in a large portion of revenue. I feel blockbusters will always be with us, but what defines a blockbuster will cha A good introduction. The focus is slanted towards Blockbusters, obviously. She does raise good points, but her disregard of the long tail seems to be premature. While blockbusters do occur and can be created, it seems a little too early to rule one way or the other. She ignores that Blockbusters today, would not crack the top ten of yesterday. Even though these blockbusters still bring in a large portion of revenue. I feel blockbusters will always be with us, but what defines a blockbuster will change.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave Voyles

    Despite covering such a broad spectrum of the entertainment business, I still found this book extremely entertaining from beginning to end. The author illustrates how various aspects of the entertainment industry, from hip-hop to Lady Gaga, and Apple to Netflix, can often partner up with other companies who may not match their target audience, but can offer a beneficial relationship. If you are even remotely interested in how the entertainment industry works, at least from a business perspective Despite covering such a broad spectrum of the entertainment business, I still found this book extremely entertaining from beginning to end. The author illustrates how various aspects of the entertainment industry, from hip-hop to Lady Gaga, and Apple to Netflix, can often partner up with other companies who may not match their target audience, but can offer a beneficial relationship. If you are even remotely interested in how the entertainment industry works, at least from a business perspective, then this will be a great fit for you.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jose Papo

    A very detailed book about the Entertainment Industry, but which could also be applied to other industries. I think the most interesting aspect of this book is that it go against the Long Tail current. It details how the movies, books and music industries still gain most of their revenues through big blockbusters and how the best strategy is to do big, risky bets and not smaller, less riskier ones. Very good book, counter-intuitive and makes you think.

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