Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Someone has developed a computer program to predict whether a movie will be a success, using seven criteria to predict which of nine categories, ranging from 'flop' to 'blockbuster' the movie would place: its rating by censors, competition from other films at the time of release, strength of the cast, genre, special effects, whether it is a sequel and the number of theatres it opens in. Supposedly, the program was accurate 37% of the time and pretty close 75% of the time.

And, my response is, it doesn't take a computer to figure out which movies will be successful and which ones are quickly destined for the deep-discount bin at Wal-Mart. All you have to do is use some common sense. Does the movie have actors with a fan base, is it about something people are interested in and is it running up against something with even more hype? Hit on all three and you've got a hit. Hit on only one and the producers likely wasted their time and money. As an example, take Brokeback Mountain: actors with no fan base, a subject that definitely won't play in Peoria and running up against the likes of King Kong... guaranteed to be a box office flop, even with its Golden Globe nominations, and even if its supporters are claiming those not wanting to see it are homophobes (great marketing idea: insult the audience).

And looking at other movies out this month, King Kong, a hit, a huge hit. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, a hit. Fun with Dick and Jane, a moderate hit. Geisha, not so much a hit. The Producers, okay, but nowhere close to its hype (being a hit on Broadway is no guarantee of success in Red America... as the producers of Rent just found out). The Ringer will be a nice little hit. And Munich, not a hit (south of $100 million to be sure).