It was a lesson in the new world order for old companies.
The argument was that the internet had made it easier for consumers to buy specialised products. As they pursued their niche interests, the market would fragment.
Blockbuster Strategy: Why Star Power Works
Customers would turn away from the big hits favoured by conventional retailers and create a sales chart with a long, fat and potentially very profitable tail. And it failed. In its place is the old chart showing a few big hits and a million misses, a world dominated by the might not of people, but of money. As Elberse is a professor at Harvard Business School, we can take it that this was never on her agenda. That does not, however, compromise the truth of what she argues and the research that has gone into making the case. Which strategies give leaders in film, television, music, publishing, and sports an edge over their rivals?
Anita Elberse, Harvard Business School's expert on the entertainment industry, has done pioneering research on the worlds of media and sports for more than a decade. Now, in this groundbreaking book, she explains a powerful truth about the fiercely competitive world of entertainment: building a business around blockbuster products—the movies, television shows, songs, and books that are hugely expensive to produce and market—is the surest path to long-term success.
Along the way, she reveals why entertainment executives often spend outrageous amounts of money in search of the next blockbuster, why superstars are paid unimaginable sums, and how digital technologies are transforming the entertainment landscape. Full of inside stories emerging from Elberse's unprecedented access to some of the world's most successful entertainment brands, Blockbusters is destined to become required reading for anyone seeking to understand how the entertainment industry really works—and how to navigate today's high-stakes business world at large.
Great book. I am an MBA student an this book was very interesting and gave me some interesting talking points as well as some good general information. The good: Well researched.
Had public knowledge as well as some behind the scenes stories, and blended them well together. You could say it was a little long, but it was a fast read once you got past page or so. The bad: A few points reached a bit to make conclusions, but I am guessing there were a few cases were not all backup evidence could be presented in the book for editing reasons. A few things were incorrect, IBM sold its pc business to Lenovo, etc - minor points but they can raise a little skepticism on the conclusions.
Overall, this was the most enjoyable business book I have read this year. I may try some strategies for work goals. Even if you are not a business person this is worthwhile reading. Elberse is able to clearly present a well researched and reasoned explanation of a marketing strategy that is wide ranging and successful. I would recommend it to anyone working in the entertainment industry at all levels.
Anita Elberse, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, has spent the last decade researching, teaching, and writing about the entertainment industry. Her cases and articles on celebrities, sports starts, and successful sports coaches and team managers are read in classrooms, boardrooms, and living rooms of fans and executives alike.
Blockbuster Strategy: Why Star Power Works
And she has now written her first book - Blockbusters: Hit-Making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment - leveraging her work and knowledge about how the entertainment industry creates big hits. Blockbusters reveals a starting fact: "Rather than spreading resources evenly across product lines [ Consumers are increasingly seeing this in the marketplace, even if they don't realize it. TV channels that spend big on just two or three shows each season, and movie studios that market a few movies heavily and the others much less so, are just two of the clearest examples on this phenomena playing out.
Many readers might pick up the book because of the people discussed in it, but they will keep reading because of Elberse's clear explanations, lucid writing, and lack of jargon. There's no doubt significant research and analysis went into understanding the Blockbuster phenomenon, but she is smart enough to know what to explain, what to mention, and what to leave out. Elberse, with master's degrees in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and Communication Science from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD from London Business School, mentions at the end of the book that she received guidance at multiple times early in her career that she should focus on a "safer" topic than the entertainment industry.
She ignored the advice, and bet big on entertainment industry. Anyone who works in the industry and picks up a copy of Blockbusters will be glad she did. As someone who favors niche movies and TV, Anita Elberse's thesis that entertainment businesses need their blockbusters and superstars to thrive is a sobering reality. I mean, the math actually works in favor of the big risk taker. You just need the millions pull it off.
Economics has predicted this trend for a while and it's expected to scale. As globalization gains ground and the long tail from Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail extends ever longer you can bet the base will only get fatter. Blockbusters is a book about the business of entertainment: about risk and reward and the bottom line. It argues that investing vast sums of money in blockbusters and superstar performers is, contrary to intuition, a rational and profitable business strategy.
I picked up this book because I'm part of one of the industries it covers publishing and write about two more of them movies and television. Her business-driven analysis actually worked best for me, however, in the case studies that I knew the least well. Applied to, say, the nuances of running an elite-level European football club, her approach felt like an entertainment-industry version of The Tipping Point or the essays in Freakonomics: an intriguing, counterintuitive analysis of a complex system.
Applied to areas to areas where I have a professional and emotional connection, however, it was more frustrating than enlightening.
Elberse's analysis treats entertainment-industry properties-books, films, musical acts, actors, athletes-as commodities, distinguished from one another by the money it takes to acquire them and they money they bring in. What's missing is any sense of the nuances that distinguish one piece of entertainment or one performer from another: Tom Cruise's amiable cockiness or Tina Fey's quicksilver wit, the alien beauty of the computer-animated planet in Avatar or the comforting familiarity of the storyline in Star Wars.
She is interested in the fact that John Carter tanked at the box office, but not for the purposes of the book, at least in the production and promotion-related details that caused it to tank. It is precisely those nuances and details, however, that people who care deeply about entertainment - fans and creators alike - live and breathe. Being one of those people, I missed that stuff.
I felt, by the time I put the book down, like I was reading an analysis of whether or not I should marry my sweetheart that approached the problem entirely in terms of the tax code: full of insight, but devoid of soul. Blockbusters is well worth the time of anybody seriously interested in the entertainment business, but it will appeal most to those who read the phrase with the emphasis firmly on "business. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason.
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