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I Answer Questions About My New Book ‘The $11 Billion Year’

I Answer Questions About My New Book 'The $11 Billion Year'

As some of you may have gleaned, I’ve written my first book. “The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System” was published by HarperCollins on March 4. I have put together various book signings, talks and parties in New YorkLos Angeles and San Francisco. Up next: Cannes in May and Seattle in June.

You may have questions about the book, which I try to answer below. 

Why did I write this? 

Inspired by William Goldman’s classic book, “The Season,” about one year on Broadway, I have long wanted to write an in-depth, informed chronicle of what goes on within one year inside the motion picture industry from my reporter’s point of view. I believed it could provide an unusual behind-the-scenes perspective on the business of movies. The 2012 slate provided me the perfect opportunity to take this on, resulting in “The $11 Billion Year.” 

Is it a business book? 

Like the blog, the book sets out to inform smart film lovers about the inner workings of the business. In nine chapters–plus an afterword, photo insert, glossary, and box office charts– I follow the transformative year 2012, from the Sundance Film Festival to the Oscars. I covered some of it here, but I did a lot more in-depth reporting. I show how the global business of Hollywood works by detailing the making and marketing of movies, from low-budget indies to studio blockbusters, covering the players, winners, and losers. 

Starting at Sundance in January, I follow the eventual nine Best Picture contenders through their long road to the Oscars. I cover the indies and their new distribution models at Sundance. Why did “Beasts of the Southern Wild” become the darling of the festival? What might the exhibitors’ jockeying at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the studio summer tentpole showcases at Comic-Con and the fall’s “smart” films and BIG films of the holiday season introduced at Telluride, Toronto, and New York Festivals have to do with making or breaking a film’s chances? How did Harvey Weinstein’s maneuvers at Cannes benefit “Django Unchained” and “Silver Linings Playbook”? Looking at “Zero Dark Thirty,” how are women filmmakers and movies about women faring, are things improving? I show the glamour of the Oscars from inside the Dolby Theatre and the Governor’s Ball. Why did “Argo” beat “Lincoln” for Best Picture?  

What are the nine Oscar contenders?

“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Amour,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” and “Argo.” In digging into those films, we meet some colorful Hollywood figures, from Harvey Weinstein and Michael Barker and Tom Bernard to Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva, Benh Zeitlin, Ben Affleck, Ang Lee, Tom Hooper, Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Steven Spielberg, Stacey Snider, Elizabeth Gabler, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Nina Jacobson, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Jamie Foxx and more. Plus I examine the indie market at Sundance –from Robert Redford to “Arbitrage” star Richard Gere and Lynn Shelton and Jay and Mark Duplass– plus more Oscar-bound documentaries and foreign films and Hollywood’s love affair with franchises and comic book movies.

What sets this book part from all the other Hollywood books?

I’m dealing with recent history and movies readers many recognize, using these films as a window into examining the Hollywood machine at work, from script development and production to marketing and distribution, as studios decide on their release strategies, schmooze with media influencers, and confront the myriad challenges now facing the industry, including declining DVD sales, soaring production and marketing costs, escalating box office ticket prices, shorter exhibition windows, and the incredible impact of the digital revolution-from 3D to VOD and IMAX. 

How can I buy it? 

You can order the book at  AmazoniBookstoreBarnes & Noble, IndieboundBooks-A-Million , or Google, or you can ask your local independent bookstore to order it. The publisher is HarperCollins and the ISBN-13 is: 9780062218018. There’s more info on the book  here.

How can I order a copy for possible review or interview?

You can contact HarperCollins publicity manager Joseph Papa at Joseph.Papa@HARPERCOLLINS.com. 

Can I book a Q & A or book signing or a 2012 flick at a movie theater or bookstore?

Sure, contact Joseph.

I hope you like the book. It’s a picture of my world.

A selection of reviews, excerpts and interviews are below: 


Publisher’s Weekly

The Philadelphia Inquirer


The Film Stage

NY Daily News

The Conversation

Studio System News

Adam Leipzig


The Village Voice: Anne Thompson Asks if Hollywood Has Forgotten How to Make Money

Studio 360


San Francisco Chronicle 

KPCC’s Air Talk with Larry Mantle

The Street Interview

Hollywood Elsewhere

Word and Film

Studio System News

The Lunch with James Rocchi

BBC World Service “World Matters” 


Salon: “How ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ Killed the Oscars”

Alliance of Women Film Journalists

The Playlist 

The Wrap

Eat Drink Film 

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