The industry's basic business model has remained pretty much unchanged over the past 80 years. That is, money people lend money to creative people in the hope of getting a return - not so much from the box office but from all the ancillary stuff (pay TV, overseas rights, video games, theme park attractions, etc.). And despite all the grousing and second-guessing, it still works. Adam Davidson explains in the NYT magazine:
Today's biggest studios -- Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox -- have been on top since at least the 1950s. This stability is initially puzzling because movie studios don't have many assets. Worse, every one of their projects is a short-term collaboration between a bunch of independent agents. A modern studio's main asset, however, is its ability to put together these disparate elements. They know how to get Tom Cruise to do a film, how to get it into theaters around the country and whom to call to set up a junket in Doha. They also know the industry's language of power, with its ever-changing rules about which stars, restaurants and scripts are cool and which are not. It's the stuff of easy parody, but it's worth billions.
Another reason these studios remain at the top is that for most entrepreneurs, taking them on isn't worth the risks. (Even big hits often take years -- sometimes a full decade -- to break even.) "If I'm sitting on $2 billion, will I invest in a Hollywood studio?" asks Anita Elberse, a Harvard Business School professor who studies the entertainment industry. "Many other industries have a higher return on investment." Billionaires like Anil Ambani, who is a partner in Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios, presumably invest because the glamour helps them with their other businesses.