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5 Surprising Movies About Book Publishing

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

By Lindsay Quackenbush

As book industry insiders, we love to see our work lives play out on the big screen. It’s even more fun when the nod comes as a total surprise. That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of our favorite movies that feature a publishing cameo, from classics to contemporary rom-coms!

1. The Lost City (2022)

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Packed with star power, this action-adventure comedy features one of the more exciting elements of the book publishing process: book tours! Chaos ensues when romance author Loretta Sage (played by Sandra Bullock) hits the stage to launch the latest in her long-running romance series with the sexy but attention-stealing cover model (played by Channing Tatum). Life imitates art as Loretta unexpectedly, and against her will, gets caught up in a billionaire’s quest for the treasure of a lost city, and her cover model tasks himself with rescuing her.

2. The Proposal (2009)

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In this beloved rom-com starring Sandra Bullock (once again!) and Ryan Reynolds, a publishing executive coerces her assistant into a green-card marriage to save her job in exchange for the assistant’s promotion to editor. Though the film is short on publishing office politics and long on hilarious family antics, it’s a fun watch for industry insiders and outsiders alike.

3. Elf (2003)

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When Buddy leaves the North Pole in search of his father, we love that he ends up at a publishing company in New York City. Buddy’s dad, Walter Hobbs, is a children’s book executive, laser focused on impressing big-time children’s book author Miles Finch to save his business. When Buddy learns his dad is on the naughty list for such Scrooge-like actions as demanding overdue book payments from an orphanage (”but the children love the books!”), he makes it his mission to rescue the company—and Christmas cheer!

4. The Last Days of Disco (1998)

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Two young, underpaid readers for a New York City-based publisher, dance away their workplace woes amid the glamorous, exclusive nightlife of the 80s in this comedy-drama starring Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale. In addition to the disco scene, the film explores the challenges and successes the two women face as they attempt to climb the corporate publishing ladder.

5. Fatal Attraction (1987)

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Bet you didn’t think this cult classic would be on the list, but the legendary thriller does have a hidden book publishing angle. It’s easy to miss amid the blood, twists, and turns, but Glenn Close’s character, the obsessive Alex Forrest, is actually an editor at a (fictional) New York City publishing house. If you look hard enough, you can find book people anywhere!