Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hollywood, the market, and cultural blinders

A couple of years ago Tyler Cowen argued that Hollywood makes exactly the movies America wants because that is what profit-making entities do.

I addressed his argument in this post.

The latest New Yorker illustrates how cultural blinders hurt Hollywood's bottom line. Tad Friend looks at the Blue Collar Comedy guys and the industry's failure to capitalize on their success. Foxworthy and company are an entertainment juggernaut. Did you know that Foxworthy's records have outsold Steve Martin and Richard Pryor combined? Or that Larry the Cable Guy's last album outsold Chris Rock's 20 to 1? Their tour movies are the highest rated movies ever shown on Comedy Central.

Yet, the entertainment industry has consistently underestimated the money to be made. This quote helps explain why.

Hollywood may cherish an underdog story, but the success of Blue Collar makes the town a little squeamish. "People love to fight the system in Hollywood, but fighting the system is the system here," Marty Bowen, a well-known agent who recently became a producer, says. "Truly fighting it by being a republic is like wearing a scarlet 'R' on your Armani suit. And being religious is worse-'The Passion of the Christ' made six hundred million dollars, but people here saw it as an anomaly. They were frightened of it."

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