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George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success Paperback – January 5, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a fascinating and carefully documented examination of the art and business of American moviemaking and its evolution over time - how our most popular pictures were made and received, how the landscape of film has shifted through the years. An invaluable historical tool." -- Martin Scorsese

About the Author

Alex Ben Block is an internationally known entertainment industry journalist, author, broadcaster, and show business historian. He was Editor of two of Hollywood's top trade publications-The Hollywood Reporter and Television Week, which Block helped successfully re-launch. He was also an Associate Editor of Forbes magazine and a movie critic in Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles. He oversaw programming for the American Pavilion at Cannes, 2008. Currently Editor-at-Large for The Hollywood Reporter and Show Business Historian for Hollywood Today. Lucy Autrey Wilson began her career with Lucasfilm in 1974, typing the script to the first Star Wars movie on an IBM Selectric typewriter. She then explored areas as diverse as construction, film, special effects, licensing, and merchandising. In the late 1980s, she launched an all-new Star Wars publishing program comprised of more than 1,500 titles, including 63 New York Times bestsellers, before moving on to new challenges in nonfiction publishing. She currently serves as the Director of Publishing for George Lucas Books, a division of JAK Films.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061778893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061778896
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Susan Hayward as Margo Channing in the 1950 hit "All About Eve"? Clint Eastwood as one of the two alien-fighting "Men in Black"? Neither of these castings actually happened, but they almost did. These are just two of the seemingly zillions of fascinating, interesting tidbits found among the pages of this massive, detailed look at 300 "blockbusting" films.

The 300 films profiled were picked by George Lucas. Arranged by decade, from the early silents to present-day (and including potential future trends), the information includes an overall look at each decade -- the trends, the culture, the innovations, the filmmakers -- and then profiles a number of films that have stood the test of time from each period. Charts, graphs and tables supplement the material, offering samplings of studio mogul and stars' salaries, film budgets, celebrities' popularity and more, with financial info presented both in original dollar figures as well as figures adjusted to 2005 levels. Amazing stuff.

Also included are easy-to-understand sidebars, like the section explaining the various "widescreen" formats (CinemaScope vs. VistaVision vs. Cinerama, etc.; something I always found confusing, until now), and interesting profiles on such popular luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock, the Marx Brothers, Walt Disney, and others. A glorious look at movies, movies, and more movies. If you make them, finance them, write them, or simply LOVE them, this 975-page book is a great, almost overwhelming look at some of the greatest movie "blockbusters" of the silver screen. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My husband saw George Lucas being interviewed about this book on John Stewart and really wanted it. I ordered it for him and he was even more delighted than he thought he would be. It's an easy lay out to dip in and out of, you grab a page and it gives you so much juicy and interesting information about the making of that particular movie. It's great for movie buffs and for those who like to know background stories. It makes a great gift, esp for those hard to buy for men, if he's mildly interested in the background of how movies are made, then get it and they won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
This remarkable reference is just what students of the film industry have always needed. Published under the imprint of George Lucas Books, it is a compilation of 300 films that have made an impact on the business of film production over the decades. Be aware that this is not a book for film fans who want information on those films that are termed 'blockbusters' but a guide to understanding what factors have contributed to the industry's ability to make or loss money on select films. Each decade contains a lengthy description of the cultural, economic, and technical factors that contributed to the business of movie making, an insider's take on key films produced, and a breakdown of costs with many other details. Obviously for an almost 1,000 page volume filled with millions of facts, there are bound to be some errors, but none are significant, nor are there any that cannot be fixed in future editions. The volume end with 2005 data because the editors did not want to include any more unreliable data then necessary (a real problem in data collection for the industry over the years), however, additional and more current data is available on the book's website. The films contained were selected by George Lucas who wrote the preface to the book along with a foreword by Francis Ford Coppola. The main text is a collaborative effort by over 18 film writers. For those interested in the film industry as a business, this is the book for you. Highly recommended and quite an achievement.

Update: After going over this book a second time, I discovered a lot more errors. Some are typos that should have been caught by a copy editor. The number of errors calls into question the books usefulness as a reliable sourcebook so I have downgraded my 5-star review to 3-stars. Hopefully a new edition will correct the mistakes.
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Format: Paperback
"Blockbusting" is an in-depth look at how 300 of the biggest and best movies made it to the screen. The material covering the early years of the industry is particularly interesting. At least one movie/year, from 1913 through 2005, is included. The first movie, 'Monkeyshines,' was made by Edison's assistant William Dickson, was 5 seconds long, and used Eastman's flexible roll film. Edison decided the technology didn't produce a strong enough image to project on a big screen and exhibited it in a coin-operated upright cabinet with a peephole. After some further experiments, Dickson settled on 35 mm wide film. The viewing machines cost $250, and a view was 5 cents. In 1895 Dickson left Edison and began filming with Mary Pickford and the Gish sisters.

'The Great Train Robbery' (1903) was one of the first era of film-making most memorable products. It ran 12 minutes, cost $800, and was completed in 4 days. Films at that time were sold by the foot, and ran until audiences lost interest or the film was in tatters and no longer usable. By 1907, however, there were 150 movie exchanges that rented movies for one-fifth the purchase price. New releases were shipped out ahead of time so they could be promoted nationally and open on the same day across the country. Block booking soon followed - this required theaters to take at least one print of every movie the producer made. French movies at the time were considered better by many - even prior to 1908 the French were offering color, and by 1909 they introduced newsreels covering events around the world. Movie rates rose to a dime in 1909. The major film producers of the future, Warner, Loew, Mayer, all started as New York city film exhibitors on or before 1907.
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