The Hollywood empire was built over the course of a century through hard-nosed business practices such as block booking, dumping and buying up the competition, turning the silver screen into a goldmine in the process. The business logic that has driven the industry since its beginnings has gone into hyperdrive in recent years, with astronomical sums invested in productions and promotion. Ironically that massive outlay has gone toward churning out a flat, made-in-Hollywood universalism that can be exported planet-wide, but which is simultaneously losing audiences, primarily to the digital world, at an accelerating pace. The apparently insurmountable barriers of finance and distribution to entry into the world of entertainment have served, so far, to keep smaller players out of the frame and, Fischer contends, have destroyed the industry’s creative potential. It turns out too much money can kill cinema just as certainly as not enough.
In The Decline of the Hollywood Empire, artist and philosopher Hervé Fischer heralds an inevitable move from 35 mm to digital distribution, which will take what has until now existed only on the margins of the “entertainment industry”—independent film, amateur film, documentary and other genres—from bit players to starring roles: how the Trojan horse of digital technology and distribution, in the hands of independent producers, could well toll the bell for Hollywood’s hegemony in the business of film.