Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The statistical approach to choosing winning movies.

I don't know if Canada's greatest musician, Doug Bennett, had it exactly right, but he was close when he lamented, "Nobody wants better, they only want more." (Here, number 17)

The New York times has an article about a man who statistically analyzes hit films to help producers make the next hit.  It seems the method would both work and suck.  Yes, a sweet spot of enough sex and violence and with some slight semblance to a plot would be profitable  but  only in regards to university-aged boys who haven't seen the same things in a dozen other movies yet.

A chain-smoking former statistics professor named Vinny Bruzzese — “the reigning mad scientist of Hollywood,” in the words of one studio customer — has started to aggressively pitch a service he calls script evaluation. For as much as $20,000 per script, Mr. Bruzzese and a team of analysts compare the story structure and genre of a draft script with those of released movies, looking for clues to box-office success. His company, Worldwide Motion Picture Group, also digs into an extensive database of focus group results for similar films and surveys 1,500 potential moviegoers. What do you like? What should be changed?

“Demons in horror movies can target people or be summoned,” Mr. Bruzzese said in a gravelly voice, by way of example. “If it’s a targeting demon, you are likely to have much higher opening-weekend sales than if it’s summoned. So get rid of that Ouija Board scene.”

Bowling scenes tend to pop up in films that fizzle, Mr. Bruzzese, 39, continued. Therefore it is statistically unwise to include one in your script. “A cursed superhero never sells as well as a guardian superhero,” one like Superman who acts as a protector, he added.

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