Japanese Mathematicians Use You to Predict Box Office Success

Japanese Mathematicians Use You to Predict Box Office Success

Jun 15, 2012

Smarter scripts, better actors, cheaper productions, pushover directors, higher ticket prices; Hollywood is in want of many things, but above all they want a crystal ball, because, ultimately, the industry doesn't actually care about making better movies, they just care about making movies with better profit margins. That's why we're sure that many studio suits and marketing drones are busy pouring over a new research paper posted this week at the New Journal of Physics. [via Deadline]

A team of Japanese researchers have looked at the release behavior surrounding films like The Da Vinci Code and Avatar and have surmised a mathematical model to predict the "hit" phenomenon, and they believe it provides a pretty accurate forecast for how much money a movie will actually make at the box office.

So how does it work? It looks complicated, but the basics are this: If you mine enough Twitter, Facebook and other social network systems data for mentions, either directly or indirectly, of a new release and punch it into a giant equation that also considers advertising budget and time until release, you can get a pretty good idea of how many people are actually going to pay money to see a movie and when.

What does this all mean for the average movie goer? Not a whole lot, but it does prove that things like daily blog posts about a film have a significant and quantifiable impact on the word of mouth success of a film. That's common sense, sure, but if studios begin to adapt these researchers hit prediction criteria - and they do say its applicable to any consumer market, not just Japan - they'll like start to spend even more attention to what Joe and Jane Sixpack are saying about a movie leading up to its release. If WOM indicators are strong, advertising can be dialed back so that you and I do the job for them. If it's not, however, the studio can crunch the numbers and decide if they need to double down on the advertising.

Basically, the takeaway here is that if you're tired of seeing movie ads all over the place, just start talking about the movie more. Only you can prevent marketing floods. (By spamming your own movie marketing. It's a terrible cycle.)

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