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How Analytics Are Helping To Predict Blockbusters

Movies as an art form are hard to predict, but are analytics helping us?

14Oct

Analytics have permeated nearly every aspect of our lives today. From the way we interact with one another online to the clothes and food that we buy. It can predict what you are likely to do and how you are likely to do it, but can it predict how you will react to a piece of art?

It is an interesting crossover as films, literature and art is relatively subjective, but how can data predict what will be successful and what won’t?

I have spoken to many analytics professionals within the film industry and they have all told me that it is impossible to predict the success of a film as a single entity. Look at John Carter and the Lone Ranger, which are both failed spectacularly. Both had all the ingredients of a hit, but failed miserably.

These films were a kick in the shin for Hollywood, they represent the 4th and 5th most expensive films ever made but both were an abject failure at the box office.

However, viewing habits have a new hero, the very thing that many believed would kill the movie industry could save it.

Netflix, Hulu and other subscription services can now see what people are watching, at what times and where. It is this information that provides analytics professionals with a goldmine of information to help create a blockbuster.

Shows like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange Is The New Black’ have been created with particular demographics in mind. This means that these shows can be made with these demographics in mind with a higher chance of a successful show.

‘We can look at consumer data and see what the appeal is for the director, for the stars and for similar dramas’. This is what Steve Swasey, Netflix’s VP of Corporate Communications, said on the subject. It is possible to not only predict a blockbuster from the data, but to also create a blockbuster based on the data.

So with this kind of data available to them, companies like Netflix have a distinct advantage over the traditional Hollywood powerhouses in predicting how a film or show will do and can create shows to make the most of these possibilities.

Therefore analytics has a huge part to play in the creation of future films and the prediction in how those films will do.

At the moment, it is one of the biggest sources of new movies and TV shows as these companies can afford to invest in a certain level of originality. This is compared to the traditional powerhouses, who rather than investing heavily in original films have simply created sequels and prequels to successful films. For instance, so far in 2014, 8 out of the top 10 grossing films are remakes or sequels and this is mirrored by 7 of the top 10 films in 2013.

So analytics has not only allowed companies to predict what is going to be successful, but when effectively used, to create more original blockbusters than the traditional Hollywood movies.

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