I honestly don’t know if anyone in Los Angeles besides me reads it, but each week Edward Jay Epstein’s Slate column, ‘The Hollywood Economist,’ quietly illuminates the inner economic workings of the entertainment industry. Today, in part one of a two-fer he’s calling ‘Hollywood’s Death Spiral’, Epstein delves into the semi-secret financial data shared by the major studios:
Even though the studios do not provide a road map for outsiders to the precise sources of their wealth, the real numbers are available in Hollywood. Indeed, every 90 days, each major studio sends a precise breakdown of all its revenue from all its worldwide sources, including movie theaters, video distributors, and television stations, to a secretive unit of the Motion Picture Association called Worldwide Market Research, located in Encino, Calif. The unit combines the data into an All Media Revenue Report and sends it to a limited number of top executives… in the best Hollywood tradition of keeping audiences in the dark, the report is not made available to newspapers, industry newsletters, or Wall Street analysts.
Epstein has even posted a page from this report (albeit not one that reveals revenue from any particular studio) on his personal website, and goes on to mine the data in all sorts of interesting ways. I have no snarky Fishbowl-y comment on Epstein’s work other than, gosh, it’s worth reading. So read it!