George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success

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A comprehensive look at 300 of the most financially and/or critically successful motion pictures of all time—many made despite seemingly insurmountable economic, cultural, and political challenges—set against the prevailing production, distribution, exhibition, marketing, and technology trends of each decade in movie business history.
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About the author

Award-winning entertainment industry journalist, author, broadcaster, and show business historian Alex Ben Block is Contributing Editor at The Hollywood Reporter, covering the business of both movies and television. He is also Editor of the book Blockbusting: The Business of Filmmaking: A Decade-by-Decade Survey, with coeditor Lucy Autrey Wilson, showcasing 300 blockbuster movies and an insider's look at more than a century of movie-making for HarperCollins and George Lucas Books. Block returned to The Hollywood Reporter in mid-2009, where he had been Editor for seven years in the 90s. While Editor, Block oversaw a major improvement in the news product, hired a top-notch staff, launched the first weekly international edition, and the first online edition, helping raise the standards of journalism. During his tenure, he edited The Hollywood Reporter Cannes festival dailies in France six times, produced the Key Art Awards, and moderated and spoke at numerous seminars, panels, and events. He went on to be founding Editor of TelevisionWeek, which he relaunched in print, and then oversaw redesign of the website. He moderated the TV Week Power Breakfast series, as well as panels on media, television, movies, advertising, and the media. Block is a widely quoted show business historian and contributor to the nationally syndicated radio program The Advertising Show, and frequently does commentary about show business on KNBC-TV and NBC Digital 4 serving Southern California. Block is a popular public speaker, toastmaster, emcee, and moderator. He provides behind-the-scenes insight on a hundred years of blockbuster movies. His panels at the Paley Center for Media included a one-on-one with Roseanne Barr, a look at Fox's Prison Break, and a dialogue about the image of Arabs on TV with producers of 24 and Lost. As Director of Programming, Block produced panels and created the first 3-D Day for the American Pavilion during the 2008 Cannes Film Festival that featured James Cameron. He's moderated at Digital Hollywood, NATPE, Showest, Hong Kong Market, Show Biz Expo, and many others. He has been Associate Editor of Forbes magazine, covering Hollywood; movie critic and entertainment editor for the Miami News; columnist and critic for the Detroit News; as well as Assistant City Editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, overseeing coverage of Southern California. As a leader in the journalism community, Block served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Press Club for three years, helping reorganize it for nonprofit status, ramping up the awards program, and making it relevant to journalists in the digital age. As an honorary board member ever since, his contributions have included organizing a Los Angeles Herald Examiner reunion, numerous panels, and an event at the Annenberg School at USC called "Who Can Be Trusted?: A Seminar on Sourcing," also sponsored by the New York Times and Discovery Networks. Block was Editor-in-Chief and VP of, a pioneering show business website where he organized the editorial team and built a celebrity database. He is author of the critically acclaimed books Outfoxed: The Inside Story of America's Fourth Television Network, and the international bestseller The Legend of Bruce Lee. Block was heard on NPR-affiliate KPCC-FM's "Call Sheet" for five years and remains a frequent contributor to John Rabe's "Off Ramp," "The Larry Mantle Show," and Patt Morrison's talk show. His expert commentary has been or heard on KNBC-TV, The Today Show, CNBC, NPR, NBC, The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, CNN, and many more outlets. Block's honors include three Los Angeles Press Club Awards for journalistic excellence, Hearst Awards, Crain Awards, a Detroit Press Club Award, a Will Rogers Foundation Willie Award, the (RIM) Angel in Media Award, and the prestigious Journalism Award from the Caucus for Television Producers, Directors and Writers presented to him by CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves. A native of Syracuse, New

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Harper Collins
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Published on
Mar 30, 2010
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Performing Arts / Film / General
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Eligible for Family Library

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Film stocks are vanishing, but the iconic images of the silver screen remain -- albeit in new, sleeker formats. Today, viewers can instantly stream movies on televisions, computers, and smartphones. Gone are the days when films could only be seen in theaters or rented at video stores: movies are now accessible at the click of a button, and there are no reels, tapes, or discs to store. Any film or show worth keeping may be collected in the virtual cloud and accessed at will through services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant.

The movies have changed, and we are changing with them. The ways we communicate, receive information, travel, and socialize have all been revolutionized. In Streaming, Wheeler Winston Dixon reveals the positive and negative consequences of the transition to digital formatting and distribution, exploring the ways in which digital cinema has altered contemporary filmmaking and our culture. Many industry professionals and audience members feel that the new format fundamentally alters the art, while others laud the liberation of the moving image from the "imperfect" medium of film, asserting that it is both inevitable and desirable. Dixon argues that the change is neither good nor bad; it's simply a fact.

Hollywood has embraced digital production and distribution because it is easier, faster, and cheaper, but the displacement of older technology will not come without controversy. This groundbreaking book illuminates the challenges of preserving media in the digital age and explores what stands to be lost, from the rich hues of traditional film stocks to the classic movies that are not profitable enough to offer in streaming formats. Dixon also investigates the financial challenges of the new distribution model, the incorporation of new content such as webisodes, and the issue of ownership in an age when companies have the power to pull purchased items from consumer devices at their own discretion. Streaming touches on every aspect of the shift to digital production and distribution. It explains not only how the new technology is affecting movies, music, books, and games, but also how instant access is permanently changing the habits of viewers and influencing our culture.

The dramatic inside story of the downfall of Michael Eisner—Disney Chairman and CEO—and the scandals that drove America’s best-known entertainment company to civil war.

“When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Whistle While You Work,” “The Happiest Place on Earth”—these are lyrics indelibly linked to Disney, one of the most admired and best-known companies in the world. So when Roy Disney, chairman of Walt Disney Animation and nephew of founder Walt Disney, abruptly resigned in November 2003 and declared war on chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner, he sent shock waves through the entertainment industry, corporate boardrooms, theme parks, and living rooms around the world—everywhere Disney does business and its products are cherished.

Drawing on unprecedented access to both Eisner and Roy Disney, current and former Disney executives and board members, as well as thousands of pages of never-before-seen letters, memos, transcripts, and other documents, James B. Stewart gets to the bottom of mysteries that have enveloped Disney for years: What really caused the rupture with studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, a man who once regarded Eisner as a father but who became his fiercest rival? How could Eisner have so misjudged Michael Ovitz, a man who was not only “the most powerful man in Hollywood” but also his friend, whom he appointed as Disney president and immediately wanted to fire? What caused the break between Eisner and Pixar chairman Steve Jobs, and why did Pixar abruptly abandon its partnership with Disney? Why did Eisner so mistrust Roy Disney that he assigned Disney company executives to spy on him? How did Eisner control the Disney board for so long, and what really happened in the fateful board meeting in September 2004, when Eisner played his last cards?

DisneyWar is an enthralling tale of one of America’s most powerful media and entertainment companies, the people who control it, and those trying to overthrow them. It tells a story that—in its sudden twists, vivid, larger-than-life characters, and thrilling climax—might itself have been the subject of a Disney classic—except that it’s all true.
From a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios—the Academy Award–winning studio behind Coco, Inside Out, and Toy Story—comes an incisive book about creativity in business and leadership for readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Huffington Post • Financial Times • Success • Inc. • Library Journal

Creativity, Inc. is a manual for anyone who strives for originality and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about creativity—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.

As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his co-founding Pixar in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:

• Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
• If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
• It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
• The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
• A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
A professional magician and illusionist—the head magic consultant for the hit film Now You See Me—reveals how to bridge the gap between perception and reality to increase your powers of persuasion and influence.

David Kwong has astounded corporate CEOs, TED talk audiences, and thousands of other hyper-rational people, making them see, believe, and even remember what he wants them to. Illusion is an ancient art that centers on control: commanding a room, building anticipation, and appearing to work wonders. Illusion works because the human brain is wired to fill the gap between seeing and believing. Successful leaders—like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner—are masters of control and command who understand how to sway opinions and achieve goals.

In his years of research and practice, David has discovered seven fundamental principles of illusion. With these rules anyone can learn to:

Mind the Gap—recognize and employ the perceptual space between your audience’s ability to see and their impulse to believe.Load Up—prepare to amaze your audience.Write the Script—discover the importance of shaping the narrative that surrounds your illusion.Control the Frame—explore the real life value of a magician’s best friend: misdirection.Design Free Choice—command your audience by giving them agency.Employ the Familiar—take secret advantage of habits, patterns, and audience expectations.Conjure an Out—develop backup plans that will keep you one, two, three, or more steps ahead of the competition.

With Spellbound you’ll discover a different way to sell your idea, product, or skills, and make your best shot better than everyone else’s.

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