Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Final Mix

A University of Iowa business management professor has developed an algorithm that offers some predictions about whether or not a movie will be a box-office success.

According to his formula, for example, the upcoming Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice has a one-third chance of striking box office gold. Those may not seem like good odds, but they're better than a lot of people have given it, so the studio may look favorably on Professor Kang Zhao.

Zhao's formula weighs things like the personnel involved in the movie, as well as whether or not some of them have worked together before and how well those collaborations turned out. Genre, time of year released and other data are also plugged in. The formula isn't exact, since it says that R-rated war movies are the least likely to cover their production costs. And the Screen Rant article points out that Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds was in fact an R-rated war movie that did quite well for itself.

But no algorithm is perfect, so Professor Zhao's formula can't be faulted for not knowing that Quentin Tarantino's formula of "Quip + blood + caricature + word eruption + blood" would have done so well. The next move may be for studios to try to make their formula for creating movies match Professor Zhao's formula for success. Once that happens, we can probably count on seeing the same movie over and over again, under different-sounding titles and with some variation in casts or settings.

Or maybe that's already happened.

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