July 01, 2014

Universal Studios

Movie studios are putting their money on a few blockbusters. Credit: Prayitno / Flickr Creative Commons

Guest:

Do you ever wonder why so many movies now have a number at the end? Superman 3, Batman 5, Fast and Furious 1, 2, 3, 4...(we could go on.)

In her book, "Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment," Anita Elberse argues that, despite living in a world with more media sources and entertainment options than ever, our tastes are converging on the flashiest hits and the biggest superstars.

And because of this convergence, studios know that they can make a lot of money by betting on a blockbuster. 

“Over a quarter of the six thousand something films that have been released in the last decade in theaters in the U.S. are non-original films,” says Elberse, a professor at Harvard Business School. “And that quarter of films accounts for more than half the revenue. Those are the most lucrative films to make.”

Digital technology and the rise of online channels are also revolutionizing how audiences access entertainment.

The result? Though many believed that having a plethora of media sources available would lead to more niche products, that hasn't quite been the case. In fact, as Elberse puts it: "What is happening is the exact opposite."

To hear more from Anita Elberse on the future of entertainment - including why Lady Gaga's marketing is brilliant and how non-entertainment companies have started adopting the "blockbuster" approach – listen to our full 34-minute interview from October 18, 2013.

Culture, Hollywood, Anita Elberse, movies

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