Miramax and the Transformation of Hollywood in the 1990s
320 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: May 1, 2012
During the 1990s, films such as sex, lies, and videotape, The Crying Game, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Love earned substantial sums at the box office along with extensive critical acclaim. A disproportionate number of these hits came from one company: Miramax. Indie, Inc. surveys Miramax’s evolution from independent producer-distributor to studio subsidiary, chronicling how one company transformed not just the independent film world but the film and media industries more broadly. As Alisa Perren illustrates, Miramax’s activities had an impact on everything from film festival practices to marketing strategies, talent development to awards campaigning.
Case studies of key films, including The Piano, Kids, Scream, The English Patient, and Life Is Beautiful, reveal how Miramax went beyond influencing Hollywood business practices and motion picture aesthetics to shaping popular and critical discourses about cinema during the 1990s. Indie, Inc. does what other books about contemporary low-budget cinema have not—it transcends discussions of “American indies” to look at the range of Miramax-released genre films, foreign-language films, and English-language imports released over the course of the decade. The book illustrates that what both the press and scholars have typically represented as the “rise of the American independent” was in fact part of a larger reconfiguration of the media industries toward niche-oriented products.
Perren’s account is a corrective to the juicier journalistic record, particularly the gossipy standard narrative, Peter Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures (Simon and Schuster, 2004). Biskind’s popularity is probably safe: Perren’s style is that of someone turning on the lights at a party, and her informative, eye-opening argument is intentionally deflating and unromantic…She busts myths, and persuasively so...~Film Quarterly
In her book Indie, Inc., Alisa Perren masterfully explores the myths and realities behind the Weinsteins' rise, their cunning self-mythologizing of their enterprise, and the subsequent decline of the company's cultural influence and commercial viability.~Journal of Popular Culture
- Chapter One. Finding a Niche in the 1990s
- Chapter Two. The Rise of Miramax and the Quality Indie Blockbuster (1979–Fall 1992)
- Chapter Three. The "Secret" of Miramax's Success: The Crying Game (Winter 1992–Spring 1993)
- Chapter Four. Corsets, Clerks, and Criminals: Miramax in the Age of Disney (Summer 1993–Spring 1995)
- Chapter Five. Another Dimension to the Miramax Brand: Kids, Scream, and the Teen Audience (Spring 1995–Spring 1997)
- Chapter Six. Majors, Indies, Independents: The Rise of a Three-Tier System (Winter 1996–Spring 1997)
- Chapter Seven. Who Says Life Is Beautiful? (Summer 1997–Spring 1999)
- Chapter Eight. Maxed Out: Miramax and Indiewood in the New Millennium
- Selected Bibliography