Easy Riders and Raging Bulls: How the Sex N' Drugs and Rock N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind

FEBRUARY 10, 2007

8.5/10. An interesting and provocative ‘decline-of-hollywood’ thesis. In addition, the endless supply of corruscating anecdote makes this book more than worth the price of admission. Rather than try and cull samples from the panopoly of possibilities here is a single item which caught my eye because of its insight into the behaviour of decision-makers under extreme uncertainty:

As producer Michael Phillips puts it, “In the 70s the U.S. domestic market accounted for 85 percent of the business. If an executive had a hunch, he would take a shot. It was a seat-of-the-pants business. There was no more than two or three million dollars on the line, and virtually nothing in releasing costs, because it was a pay-as-you-go process. You opened in one or two theaters in each of the major cities, saw how it went. Nurse it along. When the economics started to drive film distribution in the direction of thousand-to-two-thousand print releases and big national buys of media and launch costs of ten, thirteen milion dollars, the stakes were so high that each decision was fraught with sheer terror. Instead of a seat-of-the-pants process, people were grasping for a rational framework to make decisions, and the only rational process available was precedent and analogy. So the mentality of the sequel or the look-alike emerged in the ’80s. ‘Jaws in Outer Space.’ Movies were designed to be sequelized.”