The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry

By Philpot, Justin | Journal of Film and Video, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry


Philpot, Justin, Journal of Film and Video


THE CONTEMPORARY HOLLYWOOD FILM INDUSTRY Paul McDonald and Janet Wasko. Maiden, MA: Blackwell, 2008, 305 pp.

Film studies is becoming a more interdisciplinary field every day. Students and scholars are increasingly turning to the ways in which films are made to describe and make sense of the final product. And although this hardly signals the death knell of more traditional, contentbased film analysis, The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry is an invaluable resource for those seeking to understand the economics, politics, and impact of film as a global business.

Editors Paul McDonald and Janet Wasko have crafted a collection of essays equaling more than the sum of its parts. Essay collections tend to be compartmentalized affairs, a rough grouping of subject-specific works, each standing alone in a bid to be considered best. McDonald and Wasko have managed to capture a conversation and pass it on to us. A number of the authors included here cite one another, lending the book the kind of unity of purpose usually found in monographs.

Yet the book covers three distinct areas: "The Structure of the Industry," "Industry Dynamics," and "International Territories." The first part takes up half of the book's 305 pages, and with eight essays, it is easily the most comprehensive. Covering the history of conglomeration, the impact of interrelated and sometimes competitive interests of individual corporate holdings on moviemaking, the importance of marketing and distribution, the dubious accounting practices of Hollywood studios, and the financial necessity of cross-promotion and branding, this section is a must-read for anyone interested in film or media studies. The incestuous nature of conglomerate Hollywood is covered particularly well in the last four essays of the section, as each essay deals with a particular ancillary market. Television, video and DVD, video games, and recorded music are all covered in detail, with significant historical context provided in a clear, concise prose overall.

Part 2, "Industry Dynamics," is the shortest section in the book overall, with only four essays. However, these are critical contributions to the book and provide some of the most relevant material for anyone interested in labor relations, star studies, celebrity culture, media power, or cultural imperialism.

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