The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood is billed as the story of "the real magic behind movie making: how the studios make their money".
It mostly succeeds, but if fails by being in thrall to the movies themselves, rather than the studios and conglomerates that make them.
There are three core parts to the book:
- A fascinating insight into the power-structures, history and objectives of the six companies that dominate the movie business (described by Epstein as the Sexopoly) which demonstrates the myriad ways in which the movie studios ensure that they maximise their revenues at the expense of other partners.
- A description of the movie-making process from idea through greenlighting to pre-production, principal photography and post-production that covers the same ground as (but without the wit of) William Goldman's seminal Adventures in the Screen Trade
- A concluding section that analyses the non-financial drivers of the movie industry (politics, power, self-esteem) while simultaneously predicting the rapid decrease in importance of movies to the business of Hollywood.
I recommend this book highly for the Sexopoly, a biting analysis of the business of Disney, Paramount (Viacom), Warner Bros. (Time Warner), Fox (News Corporation), Sony and Universal (NBC Universal).
If you are more interested in the making of movies, Adventures in the Screen Trade
is better and the third section, while interesting, lacks the precision and analysis of Epstein's unique insight into the financial makeup of the sexopoly.