In 1991, John Grisham published his second novel, The Firm. The lawyer-turned-author’s tautly written legal thriller about a naive young man’s experience with a corrupt Memphis law firm became an instant bestseller. Two years later, Sydney Pollack directed the film adaptation starring Tom Cruise. The film grossed $270 million ($483 million in 2019 money) and indelibly associated Memphis with the legal thriller genre.
More importantly, from the city’s point of view, the success of The Firm also attracted a number of other big-budget film productions to the Bluff City, such as The Rainmaker, The People vs. Larry Flynt, 21 Grams, and, by the middle of the ’00s, Academy Award-winners like Walk the Line and Craig Brewer’s homegrown Hustle & Flow.