Gross: The Hits, the Flops...the Summer That Ate Hollywood

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In The Gross, Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety, puts the spotlight on the summer of 1998. He takes us through the entire cycle of would-be summer blockbusters, from script through casting and production and finally into release. He gives an in-depth account of the making of such films as Saving Private Ryan, Deep Impact, Godzilla, Armageddon, and There's Something About Mary. And, most important, he shows us why some succeeded and others failed. The cast of characters in The Gross includes the most ...
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1999-02-01 Hardcover New in Like New jacket Brand new condition first edition, first printing hardcover book in its also brand new condition decorative dustjacket. Enjoy being ... the first to read this book! MendoPower Employment Services will immediately and carefully pack this book in high-quality bubble lined, envelopes. Then we send you a confirmation e-mail. We appreciate your business and welcome any questions. Read more Show Less

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New York 1999 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 311 p. Audience: General/trade. New, mint, first edition. "A ... reservoir of insider knowledge, " GQ magazine. Author is editor in chief of Daily Variety newspaper and former reporter for Wall Street Journal and NY Times; and studio exec at Paramount, Lorimar and MGM/UA. Read more Show Less

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New Ships From Canada. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 311 p. Audience: General/trade. Book Description The Gross is an all-access ... pass to the movers, shakers, and fakers who make Hollywood run. Tinseltown is an edgy place where risk-taking is a way of life-and the risks now run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Summertime, when the studios unfurl their most expensive and effects-laden "'"tent-pole pictures, "'" has become the only season in which Hollywood makes money, and so, as this book illustrates, the summer season provides an ideal microcosm for scrutinizing the mega-budget-driven revolution that has forever changed the movie business. Bart interviews all the key players, including studio executives, producers, directors, and stars, to show how creativity and commerce hang in a dangerous balance in the new Hollwood. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Ingram A genuine behind-the-scenes look i. Read more Show Less

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1999 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 311 p. Audience: General/trade. Book Description The Gross is an all-access pass to ... the movers, shakers, and fakers who make Hollywood run. Tinseltown is an edgy place where risk-taking is a way of life-and the risks now run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Summertime, when the studios unfurl their most expensive and effects-laden "tent-pole pictures, " has become the only season in which Hollywood makes money, and so, as this book illustrates, the summer season provides an ideal microcosm for scrutinizing the mega-budget-driven revolution that has forever changed the movie business. Bart interviews all the key players, including studio executives, producers, directors, and stars, to show how creativity and commerce hang in a dangerous balance in the new Hollwood. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Ingram A genuine behind-the-scenes look into the new Hollywood by an Read more Show Less

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Overview

In The Gross, Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety, puts the spotlight on the summer of 1998. He takes us through the entire cycle of would-be summer blockbusters, from script through casting and production and finally into release. He gives an in-depth account of the making of such films as Saving Private Ryan, Deep Impact, Godzilla, Armageddon, and There's Something About Mary. And, most important, he shows us why some succeeded and others failed. The cast of characters in The Gross includes the most important and powerful names in Hollywood. Dozens of actors, directors, producers, agents, and studio heads - from Steven Spielberg and Mel Gibson to Warren Beatty and Michael Eisner - all talked at length to Bart. Through these interviews, as well as exhaustive reporting, the author gives us a revealing portrait of how today's movies get made. We also learn the real meaning of the summer season in Hollywood.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In The Gross: The Hits, the Flops -- the Summer That Ate Hollywood, Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety and a former movie executive, takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the back lots and bottom lines that drive Hollywood. Focusing on a single summer season of blockbusters, he explores which films were hits and why, and how an atypical summer release like Saving Private Ryan succeeded while warm-weather fare like Godzilla was a relative failure. At once insightful and entertaining, The Gross will appeal to anyone interested in how the movie industry works.
Michael Sragow
...[O]ffers shrewd analyses of an industry on the verge of nervous collapse....probably the best guide around to "the way things are in the 90s"....an object lesson about an an insidious corporate culture. —The New York Times Book Review
New York Magazine
Bart's columns are very smart, very well written, and very quotable.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1969, William Goldman penned The Season, the quintessential insider's guide to the triumphs and failures of one Broadway season — but no author has since managed to do the same for Hollywood. Who better to attempt it than Bart, a former studio executive at Paramount, MGM/UA and Lorimar and currently editor-in-chief of Variety? Here Bart offers a savvy, gossipy, nuts-and-bolts look at the corporate machinations behind the summer films of 1998, a season of extravagant hype, box-office records and corporate disquiet that spotlighted what he calls the "dysfunctional economics of the movie industry." He divides his book into three sections: Genesis, a rundown of executives at the major studios and an outline of 11 hotly anticipated summer pictures, Armageddon to The X-Files; The Reckoning, a week-by-week listing of box office grosses for the 18 weeks of the summer season; and The Fallout, an assessment of why executives have grown increasingly wary of taking risks in a market dominated by blockbusters. Recounting how each film was put together and sold to the public, he relates chilling anecdotes of studio interference and moneymen making artistic decisions. As Bart shows little interest in the quality of these films, however, his book seems written primarily for the executives pulling the strings (for instance, the box office failure of Godzilla is largely attributed to a backlash against the mega-prerelease hype and rushed release date rather than the generic substance of the film). Whether or not the summer of 1998 marked a major turning point for Hollywood is debatable, but Bart has that rare bird's-eye view of the business that allows him to discern, even in this one fairly random crop of movies, the economic forces shaping American cinema.
Library Journal
In lively and instructive fashion, Variety's editor-in-chief examines a moviegoing season that seems like yesterday--because it was. Via interviews with actors, directors, studio executives, producers, and writers, Bart traces the genesis, development, and marketing of, in particular, The Truman Show, Armageddon, Bulworth, Godzilla, There's Something About Mary, Lethal Weapon IV, The Mask of Zorro, Small Soldiers, Deep Impact, Saving Private Ryan, and Six Days, Seven Nights. We witness the success or failure of these and other films during 18 summer weeks and learn how special effects, star salaries, cooperative ventures, and merchandising deals compromise studio profits. Cinema students as well as casual moviegoers will question some of Bart's conclusions--special effects movies are not a "distinct genre," and Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas are major stars--and occasionally facts are wrong (e.g., Splendor in the Grass was released in 1961, not 1966). These caveats aside, The Gross is a fascinating inside look at filmmaking that leaves one wondering how anything cohesive is ever projected on the big screen. For public and academic libraries and performing arts collections.--Kim Holston, American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA
Steve Daly
[Bart has] a remarkably plugged-in perspective....[with an] insider's ability to get major players to diagram their game plans fairly honestly and, more deliciously, to trash one another in semi-anonymous remarks....[T]ime and again, he'll snap you awake with trenchant quotes from just the sort of bigwigs you want to hear second-guessing their own strategies. Entertainment Weekly
GQ
For the better part of 20 years, he roamed the corridors of power at Paramount, Lorimar, and MGM, green-lighting the big pictures as a bona fide and influential member of 'The Club.'...Peter Bart emerges as part muckraker, part mogul, a Hollywood player with a reservoir of insider knowledge.
Newsweek
Bart has turned Variety from a repository of dull facts into a hard-hitting investigative sheet.
Michael Sragow
...[O]ffers shrewd analyses of an industry on the verge of nervous collapse....probably the best guide around to "the way things are in the 90s"....an object lesson about an an insidious corporate culture.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312198947
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 311
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Interviews & Essays

From a barnesandnoble.com e-nnouncement

Oscar madness is one thing, but has Hollywood itself gone crazy? Peter Bart, editor in chief of Variety, has been asking himself the same question. His new book, THE GROSS, turns the spotlight on the summer of 1998, zooming in on the bombs and blockbusters, but also focusing on what turns the heat up in the Hollywood summer season. In this barnesandnoble.com exclusive essay, the ultimate Hollywood insider compares the big-money blockbusters of the '90s with the "golden age" of the '70s, with surprising results.

Movies: Getting Better or Worse?

by Peter Bart

I am often asked how I would rate the movies of the '90s against those of the '70s, a period that increasingly is being called the second "golden age" of American cinema. Should Hollywood have an inferiority complex about its current crop of movies?

In my opinion, the '90s movies are neither better nor worse, just markedly different. That's because they were intended to be.

In the late '60s and early '70s the principle propellant in getting a movie made stemmed from the passion of the filmmaker. At that moment in time the studios were intensely auteur-centric, which meant that if a Coppola or an Ashby or a Tony Richardson had a strong conviction about a film and his budgetary demands were not outlandish, odds were that he'd find a studio chief who'd listen to him. The director was king, and the financial risks were minimal. Even a rather broad-canvas movie like "The Godfather" cost well under $10 million, and movies opened on only a few screens, supported by a modest fusillade of advertising. No one made $100 million tie-ins with McDonalds orTaco Bell.

How else could "Taxi Driver" or "Easy Rider" or "Coming Home" or "Harold and Maude" get made? How else could "The Godfather" happen, with its (at that time) offbeat cast and untried director? The notion of making a movie like "Midnight Cowboy" today would seem farfetched indeed.

By contrast, '90s movies are more often the by-product of a marketing scheme than a director's vision. It's all about plans, not passions. In order to elicit the approval of the many echelons of studio executives, a major movie must meet several criteria that simply didn't exist a generation earlier. It must be appealing to potential co-financiers since most studios no longer will go it alone. It must have an obvious attraction to the overseas audience. It must be interesting to a marketing partner, whether it be a fast food chain or toy maker. Ideally, it should have the potential of becoming a hot video as well as theme park ride. There should be a hit song in the mix. Also a line of merchandise. In short, it must meet all the criteria of a consumer mass-marketing product line.

Thus an instantly forgettable Disney film like "George of the Jungle" was destined to become a '90s natural. McDonalds loved it so much that Disney opted to lavish more money on its budget than originally planned. "Men in Black" also qualified as surefire '90s fare, even though it was essentially devoid of plot or characters.

There are exceptions to these generalizations, to be sure. After all, blockbusters got made a generation ago, though it's worth noting that, as far as George Lucas was concerned, "Star Wars" represented a personal film, not a marketing scheme.

Similarly, a '90s filmmaker now and then may succeed in sneaking through a more personal, character-driven movie—witness Peter Weir's "Truman Show." Significantly, the few exceptions of this type made over the last couple of years were directed not by idealistic young filmmakers but by veterans of the '70s like Peter Weir and Warren Beatty.

It should be pointed out that some of the '90s blockbusters represent superb examples of filmmaking craft—reality morphed into Hollywood spectacle. But they were conceived in a different film universe than that of the early '70s—shot differently and marketed and distributed differently.

Are films better or worse today than a generation ago? The answer is that they're so different, both in intent and aspiration, that the question itself is a non-starter. I am just grateful to have served as a studio executive in the '70s. It was a lot more fun responding to passion than to grandiose marketing schemes.

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