Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer

Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer


It's a typical summer Friday night and the smell of popcorn is in the air. Throngs of fans jam into air-conditioned multiplexes to escape for two hours in the dark, blissfully lost in Hollywood's latest glittery confection complete with megawatt celebrities, awesome special effects, and enormous marketing budgets. The world is in love with the blockbuster movie, and these cinematic behemoths have risen to dominate the film industry, breaking box office records every weekend. With the passion and wit of a true movie buff and the insight of an internationally renowned critic, Tom Shone is the first to make sense of this phenomenon by taking readers through the decades that have shaped the modern blockbuster and forever transformed the face of Hollywood.

The moment the shark fin broke the water in 1975, a new monster was born. Fast, visceral, and devouring all in its path, the blockbuster had arrived. In just a few weeks Jaws earned more than $100 million in ticket sales, an unprecedented feat that heralded a new era in film. Soon, blockbuster auteurs such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and James Cameron would revive the flagging fortunes of the studios and lure audiences back into theaters with the promise of thrills, plenty of action, and an escape from art house pretension.

But somewhere along the line, the beast they awakened took on a life of its own, and by the 1990s production budgets had escalated as quickly as profits. Hollywood entered a topsy-turvy world ruled by marketing and merchandising mavens, in which flops like Godzilla made money and hits had to break records just to break even. The blockbuster changed from a major event that took place a few times a year into something that audiences have come to expect weekly, piling into the backs of one another in an annual demolition derby that has left even Hollywood aghast.

Tom Shone has interviewed all the key participants -- from cinematic visionaries like Spielberg and Lucas and the executives who greenlight these spectacles down to the effects wizards who detonated the Death Star and blew up the White House -- in order to reveal the ways in which blockbusters have transformed how Hollywood makes movies and how we watch them. As entertaining as the films it chronicles, Blockbuster is a must-read for any fan who delights in the magic of the movies.

Title:Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780743235686
Format Type:

    Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer Reviews

  • Del Johnstone

    First things first. This book came out before the third Star Wars prequel arrived. The blockbuster has moved on a helluva lot since those days. Disney/Marvel have their eyes on the prize, which seems ...

  • Stephanie

    I picked this up after seeing it recommended in a Nick Hornby essay, and it's a pretty good bet that if you like Nick Hornby's style of British humor - or if you're a fan of any of the big blockbuster...

  • Corey

    I picked this up because Nick Hornby wrote so enthusiastically about it that I was compelled to do so. And I am so glad I did. This is a fascinating chronological examination of Blockbusters in Hollyw...

  • Danny Marcalo

    Of course I've read the New Hollywood bible aka "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" so I was somewhat skeptical as to what this book could offer me. Quite a lot actually. It takes some of Biskind's theories a...

  • Joan

    One of my hobbies is looking at box office sites, which can be kind of fun (or used to be fun until it became a contest to see which comic book movie would be king of the box office this summer -yawn)...

  • Richard Moss

    Tom Shone digests 30 years of crowd-pleasing cinema from Jaws to The Lord of the Rings, exploring the birth of the blockbuster and it's evolution (and deterioration).Shone is provocative and opinionat...

  • Thomas Brown

    Two stars is a little harsh, it's a really interesting book, but it's clearly (from how many times it's referred to) a riposte to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind...

  • Ellyn

    This was a fascinating look at the evolution of the blockbuster film, from "Jaws" and "Star Wars" to "Titanic" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The author takes a fresh and uncompromising view on ...

  • Mark

    An intelligently argued case, by someone who grew up with the first wave of blockbusters (and is pretty much the same age as me, as it happens - he comments on how great it was to be a teen when “Ra...

  • MKat

    Recommended to me by my film studies professor at the time, I found this book witty and well researched. The author revels in summertime movies meant to entertain the masses without pandering to the L...