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The August 1989 release of sex, lies, and videotape by Miramax marked a turning point in American independent cinema. In fact, the film should be perceived as central to the development of New Hollywood aesthetics, economics, and structure. sex, lies, and videotape ushered in the era of the “indi blockbusters—films that, on a smaller scale, replicate the exploitation marketinig and box-office performance of the major studio high-concept event pictures. On a cost-to-earning ration, Steven Soderbergh’s creation –with its $1.1 million dollar budget and $24 million plus in North America box office—was a better investment than Batman, which—at an investment of $50 million-returned $250 million in domestic box office. These figures begin to suggest how sex, lies, and videotape helped to set the standard for low-budget, niche-based distribution in the 90s and to lay the groundwork for a bifurcation within the entertainment industry.


Published in Film Quarterly, vol. 55 no. 2 (2001), pp. 30-39.

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