Yesterday I spoke with Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson about her new book, “The $11 Billion Year,” a story of the ups and downs and turnarounds of 2012. Thompson’s idea was to make a movie-release version of William Goldman‘s The Season (’04), a chronicle of Broadway’s trials and tribulations in 1967 and ’68. When I think of 2012 I think of the year in which Argo beat Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook in the Best Picture race, but there was more to it than that, of course. Digital encroachment. Oscar takedown campaigns. Shifting concepts of where the money is coming from, and how much and at what stage of the game. Zombie studio executives churning out dumber and dumber summer tentpoles. Greater and greater numbers of belligerent apes talking to the screen in megaplexes.
Thompson’s blow-by-blow account is sharp, sage and cleanly-written. Or it is, at least, in the parts I’ve flipped through so far. It’s a certainty, of course, that the rest of the book follows suit. I’ve known Anne for 30-plus years. Her prose has always been alluring and well-shaped, and she’s always been a diligent, dependable reporter.
Here’s a portion of an early, anonymously-written review on Kirkus:
“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.”
What does that mean in human terms? For me 2012 was the year when I finally started to feel relaxed about digital streaming of high-def movies. After years of barely paying attention to Netflix, Vudu and Hulu Plus and generally swearing by Blurays, I finally said to myself that high-def films on Vudu don’t look so bad and in fact look pretty good. To me my movie-watching life is now broken up in thirds — one-third film festivals, one third-screenings and one-third Blurays and streaming movies at home. It’s a very rare occasion when I’ll go to the Arclight or the Grove and pay like anyone else and wolf down the popcorn. I vaguely hate sitting in a theatre with slovenlies who talk and eat loudly and put their un-pedicured flip-flop feet on the armrests in the summer.
I guess I’m saying that I hate the commercial experience, although I used to love it. I don’t hate the company of moviegoers, not as a rule, but I’m always expecting the worst and I’m always a little bit relieved when a film is over.
Again, the mp3 of my discussion with Anne.
A swanky uptown party is being thrown tonight in Manhattan for Anne and her book with the help of publicist Peggy Siegal. Thompson did a book-signing yesterday at the NYU Book Store. She’ll be doing a book-signing this coming Sunday at the Egyptian American Cinematheque theatre on Sunday, and introducing a screening of Argo.