Three good reads about the state of entertainment.
1. A conversation with author Daniel Levitin on "the neuroscience of music, behavior, and staying sane in the age of Twitter."
Taking a break and getting yourself into this mind wandering mode by giving into it for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours or so, you effectively hit the reset button in the brain, restoring some neurochemicals that had been depleted through focused activity. There are a lot of different ways to get into this mind wandering mode... Going off and searching the Web for your 15-minute break is not a break.
2. The Economist's special report, "Mass entertainment in the digital age is still about blockbusters, not endless choice."
Of the thousands of films released worldwide in 2016 (including well over 700 in America alone), the top five performers at the box office were all made by Disney. The 13 films the company released last year, plus remaining business from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, accounted for one-fifth of total film revenue worldwide. Disney has focused on big-event films with iconic characters and storylines that have global appeal (and that fuel its unparalleled businesses in consumer-product licensing and theme parks). Only a few years ago the big studios would typically aim for 20-25 films apiece to provide a margin for error. Some still do, but Disney’s more focused approach, investing almost exclusively in blockbusters, is paying off with a much higher rate of return.
3. "Shakeup at the Oscars," by Michael Schulman.
The Academy has had to police the increasingly aggressive campaign scene. It’s against the rules to ask for votes explicitly, so strategists tiptoe around the topic: “Did you get the screener?” In 2010, Nicolas Chartier, a producer of “The Hurt Locker,” sent a mass e-mail asking Academy members to vote for his movie and “not the $500-million film,” meaning “Avatar.” He was banned from attending the ceremony, where “The Hurt Locker” won Best Picture. Often, a negative campaign stunt will inspire a new rule. In 2004, DreamWorks placed an ad quoting critics who said that Shohreh Aghdashloo, of “House of Sand and Fog,” “should win” Best Supporting Actress over Renée Zellweger, of Miramax’s “Cold Mountain.” Zellweger won anyway, and the Academy now forbids ads that cast “a derogatory light on a competing film.”