Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business Hardcover – Jun 11 2013
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"[A] fascinating memoir-primer on the movie industry….A great read that illuminates what is really shaping today's movie business.” (The Wall Street Journal)
"[A] witty and wise new primer" (The Washington Post)
“[A] must-read on the ever-evolving movie industry…accessible and entertaining…Obst pulls back the curtain on an industry built on lies and illusion, allowing readers to get in on the ongoing joke.” (Publishers Weekly)
“From her unique perch as a maker of real movies—not sequels, prequels, or reboots—Lynda Obst explains why the movies we all loved growing up don't get made anymore. With her sharp wit, she gives an inside account of how the industry has changed but also offers hope that Hollywood will meet the challenges of the digital age and the global marketplace. If you love movies, this is a must read.” (Arianna Huffington)
"A useful primer if you haven't quite figured out why so many blockbusters take place in China these days.” (Forbes)
"A real pro—Lynda Obst—has written a realistic book about making film into reality in these days of extremes....She describes what might, may, will happen...A wonderful text book full of mysteries, loss and longing. I just couldn't stop reading it, even though I have never had movie-making impulses." (Liz Smith, Huffington Post)
“If you find yourself reaching for any excuse not to walk into a movie theater these days, here's producer Lynda Obst to explain why in her wildly readable X-ray of contemporary Hollywood. A must read for anyone wondering what happened to the movies we used to love.” (Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls)
“Written in warm, conversational prose, Obst’s tales from the movie front together offer an engrossing look at the state of the entertainment industry today.” (Booklist)
“Obst...casts a sharp eye over recent developments in Tinseltown. Depth of detail and shrewd illustrative examples make this a must-read for anyone interested in the movie business.” (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Lynda Obst, author of the bestseller Hello, He Lied, was an editor for The New York Times Magazine before entering the film industry. She has produced more than sixteen feature films, including How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Contact, The Fisher King, Adventures in Babysitting, Hope Floats, and two films with Nora Ephron, Sleepless in Seattle and This Is My Life. She is now producing television as well.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Lynda Obst was an editor at the New York Times in the 1980's before moving to Los Angeles and getting into "the business", first as a script developer before working her way up the ladder to movie producer. Note the "movie" part; most of her career was spent developing movies - smallish movies about "people" rather than huge movies about...everything BUT people.
These huge epics were turned into "franchises"; sequel after sequel. And they played well outside the United States. It became harder to get the financing in the 2000's to make small movies; deals were cobbled together between small companies all willing to finance a share of a movie in hopes of having a modest success. (Or a huge success, as sometimes happened!). Look at the next art-type film you go to. In the beginning of the movie are all the companies who have banded together to get that picture made. Sometimes eight or nine company names appear on the screen. It's pretty amazing, actually.
As the 2000's progressed, movie making was changing at every level, from the "pitch" to the "screening". The blockbusters were being made and the local Cineplexes were showing them but there were fewer people in the seats. Where was the viewing public? At home, in front of their computers, where able to download movies and television shows both legally and illegally. The WGA strike in 2007 and 2008 hurt both movie and television show production. The writers were striking over their share of the DVD "pie", without realising that DVD's were going the way of the dinosaur. The future, and they finally recognised it, was the innovation of the internet in the making and distribution of "entertainment". Television production was finally gaining in importance and movie actors were taking roles in small screen productions because there was more freedom of expression there.
Lynda Obst covers all this, as well as other subjects of interest, in her book. It's a great read for the Hollywood historian-types. I read the book on my Kindle and was pleasantly surprised to find the photographs and an index that are often left out of an ebook were in the Kindle edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
In this book she examines the trends that are changing Hollywood and not to the better for people like me. Maybe the most salient fact is the percentage of foreign viewership going from 20% to over 50% so character stories where the dialog doesn't translate well are very difficult to get made in this environment given the high cost to produce movies. Another subject touched briefly but well is the trends in financing movies and the micro movie trend.
Also interesting is her move to television producing as she sees her movie job disappear. This is followed by great dialog about her relationships as an on site producer at different studios. Just look at the great and popular series being done on TV like "Breaking Bad" to see where some talent is now being directed.
Overall, this is the ultimate current book about the movie business, the good and the bad. I couldn't recommend this book higher.
She has a chart for the number of sequel-oriented movies or franchise offerings compared to original movies released by big studios, a comparison completely unnerving: 17-0 in favor of the big budget "preawareness" movies. She will continue to give us terminology so helpful in navigating the brave new Hollywood world. These "big" movies she calls tentpoles, while the Indies get the moniker, tadpoles. In a hopeful analysis, she suggests the tadpoles may actually start driving the industry. She concludes the book with the announcement of a Golden Age for television, as the best actors, producers, and writers are now migrating there. If we just look at J.J. Abrams, fully invested in Hollywood blockbusters, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Star Trek, and it has recently been announced he's been handed the Star Wars franchise, he still found it worthwhile to do a series called Fringe, which may go down as one of the best science fiction series of all time, despite its shortish five seasons. TV has an advantage over movies in the room to meander and also the freedom producers and writers are granted to guide what turns out to be a rather grueling undertaking, causing the slang "The Tube," meaning that your life stops for the duration of the project, like living in underground captivity. But, if the two means of producing entertainment play off each other, it could mean a revival in cinema, especially with the anomalous Bridesmaids unanticipated success. Her news isn't all gloomy, but it's concerning, so the voices of the audience need to be heard through attending movies that don't have that big aura attached. Otherwise, it's all bad aliens, vampires, and zombies. We can do better.
Obst dissects what she calls The New Abnormal, giving a cogent analysis of why the death of DVDs, the rise of International, and the surprising rise of quality television have forever altered the ways that movies are made & sold.
I worked in the business for 15 years (feature marketing) and I still learned a great deal about the New Hollywood and its MO. Written eruditely, and helped by interviews with many of the real movers & shakers, I pored through this in 2 days!
A little surprised at no mention of her longtime partner, the late Debra Hill, but Hill (perhaps fortunately for her) did not survive to see this Brave New World of sequels, reboots, and utter dearth of original ideas.