A yearlong chronicle of 2012’s major films—from Sundance to Oscar night—highlighting the many challenges currently dogging the industry.
It might be self-evident to point out that the film industry has not remained immune to the stark changes presented by digital technology. In Thompson’s (Film Criticism/Univ. of Southern California) dissection of the film year, she provides an interesting case study for the future of the industry. After all, 2012 was a banner year for Hollywood, as her title suggests. However, the old model is being challenged by digital encroachment in a variety of ways. Therein lies the paradox of the new paradigm: Digitization is at once propelling the industry to untold revenues, while at the same time making it more difficult for the industry to stake out easy gains in a rapidly shifting and unpredictable landscape. More than ever, consumers have nearly limitless choices, further pressuring Hollywood to produce safe bets like gigantic, CGI-filled action flicks to pad out the bottom line. This type of stratification is not exclusive to Hollywood either, and a case could be made that Hollywood’s problem is really a symptom of the larger, systemic problems with our technology-crazed economy. In her examination, Thompson tracks films, from fledgling indies, like Beasts of the Southern Wild, vying for distribution contracts on the festival circuit to major “tent-pole” summer blockbusters—both the successes, like Marvel’s franchise juggernaut The Avengers, and flops, like Disney’s disastrous John Carter. While the author undoubtedly understands the prevailing industry trends and how they are changing, she remains a reporter at heart. Rich with anecdotes and gossip, Thompson presents Hollywood as a living, breathing community. From executive firings and hirings to the stories behind films that almost never made it to the screen, Thompson’s journalistic flair makes her analysis of the film industry a compelling and page-turning read.
An insider investigation into the ways in which Hollywood is changing that will certainly prove invaluable in the coming years.