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Wikipedia Can Predict Box Office Flops

Soulskill posted 1 year,5 days | from the citation-needed dept.

Movies 147

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Despite a record year, like every year before it, 2013 remained fraught with its fair share of box office disasters. What if studios could minimize their loses and predict when the next Pluto Nash-level flop was imminent? According to new research published in PLoS One, they may actually be able to. Using data gleaned from Wikipedia articles, researchers measured the likelihood of a film's financial success based on four parameters: number of total page views; number of total edits made; number of users editing; and the number of revisions in the article's revision history, or 'collaborative rigor.'"

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Impeach Obummer!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659855)

Why is the mainstream media not reporting this [gopthedailydose.com] ? Obummer's been caught with his hand in the Muslim Brotherhood's cookie jar.

Re:Impeach Obummer!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660669)

Let's see, maybe because that's a whole shitload of tripe made up by the far right? If you believe that I got some prime real estate to sell you on the moon. Also, I have a very nice mountain property (comes free with a few sculptures) near Keystone in South Dakota.

I mean, I'm not even american, and after reading that my reaction is "wow, is anyone actually dumb enough to believe this?" Well, apparently I was wrong because I googled and there's literally hundreds of blogs filled with idiots ranting and raving about this. Most impressive, americans are even stupider than I remember. I don't miss the years I spent in NC at all. Glad Nortel went the way of the dodo.

Oh great... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659863)

... because what we REALLY need is more studios taking LESS chances...

Some of the greatest movies have been box-office flops.

Re:Oh great... (4, Insightful)

edawstwin (242027) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659897)

Like it or not, studios are out to make money, not great movies. For all they're concerned, every movie could be a Chipmunks sequel.

Re:Oh great... (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659959)

Like it or not, studios are out to make money, not great movies. For all they're concerned, every movie could be a Chipmunks sequel.

Exactly. The goal of a movie is to put asses in seats. That's it.

It's why summer blockbusters are practically all the same, no-content visual effects fluff full of violence (but not sex! can't have that!). That stuff sells - and having a simplistic story means even the simplest of minds can follow.

Great movies.... they're good and they last, but often it flies over the heads of most moviegoers who want to be entertained for 2 hours, not be left pondering the subtexts and meaning of the movie. I go in, get entertained for 2 hours and forget about the world, then come back out thinking about the silliness of what transpired.

Re:Oh great... (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660079)

Like it or not, studios are out to make money, not great movies. For all they're concerned, every movie could be a Chipmunks sequel.

Exactly. The goal of a movie is to put asses in seats. That's it.

But that is a silly goal EVEN IF you simply want to maximize profits. It would be better to charge more per seat for good movies and less for bad movies. Also, the price should fall each week as the audience diminishes, to encourage repeat viewers, or to get more "impulse watchers" that are willing to spend $2 but not $12.

As long as I am on a rant, airlines should also price differentiate their seats. Middle seats should be $20 less than windows or aisles, and your ticket should be at least a few bucks cheaper in the back of the plane.

Re:Oh great... (1)

supremebob (574732) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660925)

I would think that movie theatres would want you to spend $12 to see the new movie that just came out instead of a $2 movie that has been out for six weeks.

Why do you think that studios time movie releases the way they do? It would be foolish to release three romantic comedies in one week (for example), since most movie viewers would watch one and wait for the DVD release on the other two.

Re:Oh great... (4, Interesting)

jxander (2605655) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661127)

12 > 2 ... but 2 > 0 . If the choices are "See a decent movie for full price, or nothing at all" then I'm going to stick with nothing at all. Selling the ticket cheap gets my butt into the theatre, where I might buy popcorn, play some video games, see a trailer for some movie I didn't realize was coming out next weekend... etc

In reality though, this isn't a movie theatre's decision. The Studios are what drive ticket sales. Disney, Sony, Fox, etc. get nearly 100% of the ticket prices, and sometimes even MORE than 100%. There was a dust-up recently when Disney flexed it's Marvel Muscles, and wanted significantly MORE than $12 per ticket from the theatres, for the rights to show Iron Man 3. This put theatres in a tough spot. They can't exactly say NO. "sorry, we're not showing Iron Man because Disney wanted to put us over a barrel and we stood up for ourselves" So they took the loss and hoped to make up the difference on concession sales. Given that reality, I can't see the Studios agreeing to $2 tickets, when the theatre will make most of the bonus cash from it.

Can't wait to see what happens when the next Star Wars comes out...

Re:Oh great... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661321)

Selling the ticket cheap gets my butt into the theatre

As a kid in the 60's there was an old movie theatre in our town, Saturday was kids day, it was half price Jerry Lewis movies, etc. It was mainly free from adult supervision, especially in the morning when mums and dads were out shopping (by law, all shops except for milk bars and petrol stations closed at midday Saturday and reopened Monday morning).

Re:Oh great... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661507)

the theaters themselves make money on the concessions. most of the box office goes to the studios (or rather, repays the money the theater spent on acquiring the movie...same end result). the theaters would GLADLY charge lower prices over time to get butts in seats, cause most of those butts LOVE their little treats during the movie.

but the stupidos (hah. now THERES a fruedian slip) i mean studios dont charge theaters for movies on a sliding scale. yet. there's first run theaters at X, and then the dollar/second run theaters (some good, some bad) that get the used film at a lower rate after its been played for a few months and left the main theaters (and with digital distribution, i've noticed theres fewer "dollar" theaters anymore, or they've upped their prices...since theres no nearly worn out film to eke a few more bucks out of anymore)

Re:Oh great... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661485)

STOP MAKING SENSE!
what, you think its easy to change prices constantly? its not like we have computers we can program to do it for ....

Re:Oh great... (2)

stewbacca (1033764) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660081)

The goal of a movie is to put asses in seats.

This comment makes me sad for humanity. Also, if this were true, why do they serve 3 gallon servings of soda? That just makes bigger asses, allowing for fewer asses per screening.

Re:Oh great... (1)

edawstwin (242027) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660221)

Because they can charge $4 for the 32 oz. "Small" soda. The actual soda costs pennies, so it doesn't matter much if they serve you 20 oz or 32 oz, they just want you to pay $4 for a soda. It's the same reason restaurants charge $20 for a meal that no average person could finish. They have a minimum they want you to spend, and as long as people keep paying for it, you end up with more soda/popcorn/food than is consumable.

Re:Oh great... (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660479)

The somewhat more teleological answer is that movie theaters only get a very small percentage of a film's first two weeks box office revenue, and as theatrical-PPV-home video release schedules have compressed, the amount of profit theaters actually take from exhibiting movies has gotten quite small. They get to keep 100% of the concession money, however.

Re:Oh great... (3, Informative)

unitron (5733) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660723)

In other words, they're a popcorn store selling movie tickets as a loss leader to get you in the door.

Re:Oh great... (3, Informative)

jxander (2605655) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661145)

Pretty much, yes. There is a LITTLE profit to most tickets, but not much.

I mentioned above... many theatres sold Iron Man 3 tickets at a significant loss, because Disney is getting monopolistic and the theatres can't really afford to NOT show Iron Man 3. Disney said Bend Over, and the theatres couldn't really argue.

Re:Oh great... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660163)

Well bringing the discussion back on point, (I know, I know), how would Wiki predict a flop ahead of time?

After all, people have to see it, or at least have access to the script, a complete list of cast, production crew, and special effects to even begin to write a stub article on Wiki.

It would appear TFA addresses none of this. They don't appear to throw out updates and page views that pre-date the actual release date. The look at AFTER-THE FACT data.

Further, these results could and would be gamed the minute it was revealed anyone was paying attention. The posts prior to casting, shooting, and editing would be from insiders, looking to feather their own nest. There are no actual movie goers involved that early. Usually the script is closely guarded so that even enthusiasts of the book are clueless. Even the actors don't necessarily know how something will turn out, and don't have a concept of the entire film until after its been cut, scored, and edited. That leaves a very small cadre of knowledgeable people who would have anything authoritative to say ahead of time.

Re:Oh great... (3)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660537)

Well bringing the discussion back on point, (I know, I know), how would Wiki predict a flop ahead of time?

I think it ends up being a bit like Netflix's recommendation system. If you use enough computing power to find even seemingly random correlations, if they hold up for long enough there has to be a common factor somewhere and it can be used to predict with surprising accuracy.

Of course, the prediction itself will change the end result once companies start using it to alter their own actions.

It would appear TFA addresses none of this. They don't appear to throw out updates and page views that pre-date the actual release date. The look at AFTER-THE FACT data.

While it's poorly worded, it looks like they do indeed look at data available during pre-release; wikipedia logging is detailed enough to collect historical pre-release activity after film release so they can look into the past to build their models/look for correlation.

Re:Oh great... (1)

supremebob (574732) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660987)

I wouldn't think that this Wikipedia algorithm would have worked on a movie like "Jobs", where it probably had a ton of Wikipedia page views and edits but not that much box office revenue.

When you have movies that are based off of nerd heroes like Steve Jobs, I'll bet that the Wikipedia editors probably fought tooth and nail to find every plot hole and technical inaccuracy they could find.

Likewise, I could see the algorithm falsely predicting success of certain Sci Fi and comic book hero movies, for the same reason.

Re:Oh great... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661375)

Yes, I thought the same thing, it doesn't tell you anything your not already hearing loud and clear through box office receipts. Also the studios own pre-release screen testing sessions where they test parts or all of the movie on random people would be a much better predictor of financial success. It's just another interesting but unsurprising observation that's been "sexed up" to grab our bored eyeballs.

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660195)

It's why summer blockbusters are practically all the same, no-content visual effects fluff full of violence (but not sex! can't have that!). That stuff sells - and having a simplistic story means even the simplest of minds can follow.

Idiocracy in action. :)

Re:Oh great... (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660305)

The problem for them is that a video game can produce the same effect. but it can do so endlessly from the comfort of home.

There is also a middle ground. Massively popular movies that everyone has seen and will probably see again. people keep watching them even after the effects start to look dated and we wonder why we were so impressed with them. But still, people watch, and buy the newly digitally enhanced version on [tech of the day]. Some of them have been big enough that just a minor tweak (director's cut, special edition, enhanced, etc) has been enough to put all of those asses in seats again!

They may or may not have a deep philosophical level underneath the popular appeal value. William Shakespeare showed us that you can have a complex plot asking deep questions AND keep the groundlings entertained.

None of the movies (or plays) in that category were describable at the time as yet another X does Y movie and then things explode.

Re:Oh great... (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660211)

Works for me; I cant wait for Fast and Furious 28: Who Gives A Shit What We Call It Because You'll Watch It Anyway.

Re:Oh great... (1)

unitron (5733) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660737)

Works for me; I cant wait for Fast and Furious 28: Who Gives A Shit What We Call It Because You'll Watch It Anyway.

Of course the working title is The Fasterest and the Furiousest.

Re:Oh great... (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660289)

some of the greatest movies of the 80's were considered crap when they came out. the kids liked them, the kids grew up and now worship them

the art cycle is
kids like stuff their parents hate
its considered crap by important people
kids grow up and the crap is now art

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660399)

Really? Then why do they make so many _obvious_ flops?

Why do they have people at the top who would try to make a Superman movie where superman doesn't fly or wear a superman suit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgYhLIThTvk [youtube.com]

None Of This Matters (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661079)

The entire premise is bogus. Despite the headline, it's based on HINDSIGHT; it has no predictive value whatsoever.

It doesn't do much good to "predict" what movie will be a flop, after it was a flop.

Even saying "big deal" in sarcasm gives it too much credit.

Re:Oh great... (1)

jxander (2605655) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661087)

True to an extent.

Strictly formula, by the numbers movies will keep asses in seats for a while, but it's only so long before a real stinker shows up and sinks a franchise for a decade. The Batman and Superman franchises got hit hard with this, and those both have veritable goldmines of source material from which to draw. Smurfs and Chipmunks will be scraping barrel bottom much sooner.

If studios bank on that sequel every year ... that one bomb can put a long term crimp in their financials.

Re:Oh great... (2)

dywolf (2673597) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661481)

the word they need is "diversify". instead of 1 giant megabudget blockbuster scientifically designed to appeal to all 4 key demographics (and bland as SHIT), how about 6 or 7 medium budget films with various actors and scripts.

instead of one massive payout (or flop and then ensuing "woe is us, the undustry is dying"), lots of little payouts.

Re:Oh great... (3, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659909)

Agreed. If this were the case we wouldn't have Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, Blade Runner, Office Space, Donnie Darko, etc.

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660041)

Waterworld.

Re:Oh great... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660177)

Waterworld.

Unfortunate example.

Re:Oh great... (4, Interesting)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660113)

2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars: Episode IV, The Godfather, and many other films from the late 60s and 70s. The film industry was going through a transition where it needed to expand, so it started taking risks, which included creating the parental ratings system and more experimental films. I find it somewhat ironic that they don't seem to be willing to do a 'sequel' to that more experimental, and ultimately successful, period.

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660205)

But they will make a sequel to The Chipmunks and other bad ideas. ;-)

Re:Oh great... (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,5 days | (#44661093)

Indeed. What we tend to see in industries is a rising trend in experimentation when things become too formulaic. Take video games, for instance. In response to the growing costs and increasingly corporate structure of the industry, we suddenly have indie games becoming a big thing. They're done on a shoestring budget, feature new ideas for game mechanics, and are small enough that they actually can afford to fail while still offering entertainment to a number of people. Even some of the big developers are now creating "indie" units within the company who get to experiment and try to come up with the next big thing while working under tight constraints.

I'd be willing to bet that the sequel you're talking about is just a matter of time, given how entrenched franchises have become in recent years. The film industry already has smaller studios owned by the bigger ones that are experimenting and trying new things, and it's likely that some of those will become smash hits and turn the trend in a different direction at some point soon.

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659947)

The Arrival is one of my all-time favourites - a surprisingly good balance of sci-fi, mystery, action, and adventure. It lost about $10 million but remains one of the few movies I re-watch.

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660917)

My favorite scene was where he told the alien that "I have defeated this earthworm with my words. Imagine what I would have done with my fire breathing fists."

Re:Oh great... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660065)

And here I was being all pragmatic and equating "flop" with "bad movie". Lest I forget, I live in the land of the stupid where the only thing that matters is making money.

Re:Oh great... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660309)

... because what we REALLY need is more studios taking LESS chances...

Some of the greatest movies have been box-office flops.

Meanwhile, Big Budget Lone Ranger flopping, had Disney watching Universal rake in $800+ M on $70 M Despicable Me 2, a sequel(!)

Also, Disney buys up Pixar and then rolls out Planes - a soulless little-engine-that-could story wrapped around a cropduster dreaming of being a racer, you didn't need a crystal ball to see Disney would make Pixar movies utterly ordinary, if not below ordinary.

Re:Oh great... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660359)

Disney can't (re-) do classics. Lone Ranger was one example, John Carter another.

Planes was Cars was CGI Thomas the Tank Engine. Disney is about as original as Microsoft, with similar results.

I can't wait to see what they do with Star Wars.

Re:Oh great... (2)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660393)

I can't wait to see what they do with Star Wars.

Could hardly be worse than what Lucas did to it.

Re:Oh great... (2)

sconeu (64226) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660423)

Meesa so glad you say that!!!

Re:Oh great... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660715)

Disney can't (re-) do classics. Lone Ranger was one example, John Carter another.

Planes was Cars was CGI Thomas the Tank Engine. Disney is about as original as Microsoft, with similar results.

I can't wait to see what they do with Star Wars.

Biggest problem with Lone Ranger - the series road out of the west, more specifically WXYZ Detroit, as a Juvenile Western ( so juvenile in fact, the creators of Gunsmoke hated it so much they vowed to create a series with shades of grey, give the view of good or bad some perspective, etc.) and Disney tried to turn it into entertainment for the masses. Harry Potter it ain't.

Re:Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660721)

I can't wait to see what they do with Star Wars.

Funny. I can't wait to not see it.

Re:Oh great... (1)

Infestedkudzu (2557914) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660615)

Once Hollywood starts basing things off of this, won't it just cause the equation to become invalid? What they will discover is that these types of predictions only hold accuracy as long as you don't know they are being used.

I only needed see the trailers for Lone Ranger (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659879)

To know it was not only a flop, but a typical crap-scripted Disney attempt to run another character through the PoTC money making machine.

Armie Hammer is an idiot, the movie was a stinker, out of control in more ways than budgetary and there was no conspiracy to slag heavily on it - on look at the trailer and you knew

Re:I only needed see the trailers for Lone Ranger (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660091)

Saw the trailer for 10 seconds and said to myself 'O look its Captain Jack in disguise'

Re:I only needed see the trailers for Lone Ranger (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660355)

I've just watched it out of curiosity, and quite frankly I don't know what to make of it.
Apparently it's something about a train with a french mime hanging underneath and lots of cowboys?
I assumed the Lone Ranger of the title referred to some cowboy, but there really a cowboy singled out in the trailer so I guess it refers to the mime?

Re:I only needed see the trailers for Lone Ranger (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660121)

Okay, so did you distinguish between its chances for success and those of the original Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl? I can't imagine the trailer for Pirates looked that promising either and the pedigree was equal.

Re:I only needed see the trailers for Lone Ranger (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660337)

Okay, so did you distinguish between its chances for success and those of the original Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl? I can't imagine the trailer for Pirates looked that promising either and the pedigree was equal.

I saw pretty much the whole movie in the trailer -- the trend these days is to put the best moments into the trailer to sell it -- if the trailer doesn't grab you, even intrigue you, but you can pretty much surmise the entire story and what a familiar pile of stereotypes you are seeing, you won't be interested and if you aren't interested you don't see it. Besides, there's lots of Summer movies to choose from, you don't have to see them all (unless it's your job.)

I saw the trailer for Despicable Me 2 and it made me laugh, I figured it probably would be pretty close to the original, which it was and still held a lot of surprises. While some people don't think much of Gru, the mix of characters keeps it fresh - I wonder how Minion Movie will fare, as too much of the little yellow dudes could make them less interesting.

Re:I only needed see the trailers for Lone Ranger (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660343)

According to box office mojo, it has just regained its production budget. I guess it was a flop, but it was a flop that paid for itself.

Pluto Nash (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659891)

I love that movie!

Re:Pluto Nash (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659991)

I love that movie!

How about Young Einstein, the smash hit of Oz, starring that next megastar Yahoo Serious, which was a certainty to sweep the United States and bring record box office receipts?

Do you love it? Does anyone love it?

A little late (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659903)

Once there's a wikipedia article, with content, and page views, the movie's already made. Not releasing at that point, to avoid losing money on a flop, would only cause more money to be lost. Or am I missing something?

Re:A little late (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659963)

Marketing. Many newer movies the marketing is close to double the budget of the production. If you can skip that and just have production cost to cover a direct to DVD release my make more money back then the work of putting it in theaters.

Re:A little late (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660021)

Marketing. Many newer movies the marketing is close to double the budget of the production. If you can skip that and just have production cost to cover a direct to DVD release my make more money back then the work of putting it in theaters.

This

Although when you have an absolute turd like The Cat In The Hat, even marketing can only do so much - at some point it's one-half-staredness gets around faster than a fart in an elevator.

Re:A little late (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660381)

Maybe if they put that money into making a good movie instead of trying to trick people into watching a bad movie they wouldn't be having this problem.

Re:A little late (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660541)

Just speaking as somebody that works in the film industry, it's really hard to buy quality, it just sorta happens, and the release schedules are so compressed that a movie is usually out of theaters before it has the word of mouth a "good" movie gets its audience from. I think this is why cable TV is where the "good" stuff is, for the definition of "good" I think you're using.

It's also difficult to make a "good" movie when we're worried about 50% of our box office coming from the Chinese dub. Chinese people aren't stupid, but their idea of a dramatic conflict, or a joke, or a conventional love scene is very different, and making the film work for such a broad audience has its effect.

Re:A little late (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659965)

Then lets make pages for movies we would like to see and edit the hell out of them.

Re:A little late (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659979)

I was thinking this very thing. The only benefit of this I can see is that it would save them from paying bean counters to tally box office revenue.

Re:A little late (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660203)

Once there's a wikipedia article, with content, and page views, the movie's already made.

Maybe they should put up some content before the movie is made. For instance, they could put potential movie ideas on Kickstarter, and get people to pre-pay for tickets. If there is not enough interest, cancel the movie and refund the money. Even better, would be customer input on casting and plot elements. They could pay extra if, and only if, certain actors are in the movie. My daughter would definitely pay extra if Channing Tatum is in star.

Re:A little late (1)

Xeno man (1614779) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660313)

And because Wikipedia entries for films are created months—if not years—in advance of a release date, those fluctuating parameters could make possible for a course-correction for a floundering film far in advance of its premiere, according to the study.

I think the thing you missed was the article attached to the headline.

Another thing to remember is that movies are not the only medium for sharing a story, many movies are based on existing books and stories. Stories that already have a fan base. The more those fans love a story or characters, the more involved and interested they will be in any movie project.

Re:A little late (1)

jonyen (2633919) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660333)

Well...according to the article: "And because Wikipedia entries for films are created months—if not years—in advance of a release date, those fluctuating parameters could make possible for a course-correction for a floundering film far in advance of its premiere, according to the study." Not that I completely buy into what they're saying, but that explains the context of the study.

easy to have perpetual record years (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659905)

when the currency is perpetually devalued

Burn, Hollywood, Burn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659927)

Roamin' thru the theater late at night
Remakes and reboots what a common sight
Pulled to the box office getting played like a sucker
Don't fight the power boycott the mother fucker

Cue the massive Wikipedia marketing campaigns (3, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659943)

I can envision the next Hollywood producer seeing this, and proclaiming that all future productions will outdo each other in each of the relevant wikipedia statistics, even if those million monkey-keystrokes are immediately rolled back by beleaguered wikipedia editors.

Cargo-cult executive thinking to the rescue!

Re:Cue the massive Wikipedia marketing campaigns (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660083)

Call it the Internet Uncertainty Principle.

Re:Cue the massive Wikipedia marketing campaigns (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660129)

heisenberg uncertainty principle in full effect

Isn't a bit late... (4, Insightful)

west (39918) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659949)

By the time they know it's a flop, isn't a bit late? They've already spent pretty much all the money. At best, it might persuade some theaters to *not* show the movie.

It doesn't really help to find out that the oncoming light in the tunnel is a train 30 seconds earlier than you might have realized otherwise...

Re:Isn't a bit late... (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660027)

There are tricks they can use if they know it's bad. Forgoing the critics is a sign that a movie is bad, but it also puts a stop to early bad press. However, for the tricks to work they have to know early enough to use them, and the people involved usually believe their own hype so much that only really, really bad movies get that treatment. Also, knowing that you have a potential hit that you thought was just going to be mediocre can help redirect funds to get it into more theaters to increase revenue.

Re:Isn't a bit late... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660265)

There are tricks they can use if they know it's bad. Forgoing the critics is a sign that a movie is bad, but it also puts a stop to early bad press. However, for the tricks to work they have to know early enough to use them, and the people involved usually believe their own hype so much that only really, really bad movies get that treatment. Also, knowing that you have a potential hit that you thought was just going to be mediocre can help redirect funds to get it into more theaters to increase revenue.

Agree with the second point (recognizing a hidden gem and promote it) but I don't think stopping bad press works anymore. I don't remember the name, but just a few years ago, a movie was destroyed, for the first time, by twitter. Initial viewer backlash was intense and went viral, and the film was showing to empty theaters by the second weekend. The phenomenon has only increased since then. Point being, I don't think suppressing professional critics as a strategy to prop up the first weekend works very well anymore.

Re:Isn't a bit late... (2)

Dracos (107777) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660053)

Exactly, none of this will matter much. Studios know when they have shit on their hands; if it stinks enough, they don't allow press screenings. Or they shift the release date to a low traffic month like January.

Re:Isn't a bit late... (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660263)

By the time they know it's a flop, isn't a bit late? They've already spent pretty much all the money. At best, it might persuade some theaters to *not* show the movie.

It doesn't really help to find out that the oncoming light in the tunnel is a train 30 seconds earlier than you might have realized otherwise...

My thoughts exactly. They say the model works about 1 month before release; which means the cash is already a sunk cost for the studio, Theaters, however, have the advantage of making a later decision on wether to screen, and for how long, a movie. They could conceivably use the data to pass or limit showings of movies predicted to flop. Which, of course, would mean they would have a much smaller box office and hence be a "flop;" reinforcing the "correctness" of the model.

Re:Isn't a bit late... (1)

westlake (615356) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660911)

Theaters, however, have the advantage of making a later decision on wether to screen, and for how long, a movie.

No.

Bookings are made far in advance. If you want "The Hunger Games" you have to be at the head of the line. You have to make a serious commitment. Sweeten the deal by agreeing to show a studio's second and third tier product.

Too little too late (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | 1 year,5 days | (#44659953)

But by the time these factors are measured, the film has already been made and most of the money spent on it. There's no point predicting THEN whether it will succeed or fail.

Re:Too little too late (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660105)

Have you seen marketing budgets lately? They can easily eclipse the actual production cost.

Re:Too little too late (1)

nayrbn (2704751) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660245)

Couldn't there be some sort of feedback with the number of wiki edits and the amount of advertising done? I mean, you won't get as many edits if you don't do as much advertising.

Editing the Film's Wikipedia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44659973)

If the Film's Wikipedia page already exists, then isn't the film at least in production? What's the point of knowing it will flop once the money's spent?

I can predict that it rains today, today!

Straight to video (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660503)

I guess it could help a studio decide whether to pursue a theatrical or home video release, especially now that digital projection makes cinema just video with a bigger projector and stronger digital restrictions management.

I hear a Linux film is in the works (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660019)

IMDb says so... [imdb.com]

all I needed to know was Jeff Stryker (1)

themushroom (197365) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660085)

Sorry, that film is about Windows Vista.

Re:all I needed to know was Jeff Stryker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660311)

Keep sucking that dick, Linux bitch. You love that dick. You love it in the ass too. All kinds of dicks.

Obviously (1)

gman003 (1693318) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660059)

Those four items are obvious measures of audience interest in the movie based on what they are able to see. The number of people looking at its wiki page, the number and intensity of the editors, are all pretty directly proportional to either how many people are interested at all in the film, or how interested they are.

There are three things to note:
1) Artificially increasing any of these will not actually increase interest in the movie, except perhaps improving the quality of the page itself (essentially making it "advertising", although not as biased or controlled as normal advertising would be). I'm sure most of us grasp that, but I imagine plenty of Hollywood suits are preparing to hire teams of Wikipedia editors based on this flawed understanding of cause and effect.

2) The interest measured is pre-release. It is based on trailers, interviews, everything except the film itself. There are plenty of movies that may fail to garner initial interest, either due to shoddy marketing or even just misunderstanding who will be interested in your film, that later become successes on home release (or the modern-day equivalent, streaming and download services). So I worry this may cause movies to become even more focused on the initial theater profits, ignoring the longer profitability of the film.

3) By the time you have a Wikipedia page worth measuring, it's basically too late to change the film itself. All that you can really do is alter the marketing plan, unless you happen to have material to re-cut in response to pre-feedback. Now, they may notice what they expected to be a small film is getting a huge amount of early interest, and scale up their marketing to widen the audience. Or they may see that despite spending a fortune making it, nobody wants to see their next big-budget film, and decide to slash the marketing push (which can often be the largest part of the budget) to try to minimize losses.

Not very useful (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660073)

What good is it to be able to predict if the movie will flop when you have to spend $100 million making the damn thing first! Maybe you could just make the trailer, and see how well its wikipedia page does?

Re:Not very useful (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660335)

What good is it to be able to predict if the movie will flop when you have to spend $100 million making the damn thing first! Maybe you could just make the trailer, and see how well its wikipedia page does?

I think, because promoting a film is a substantial part of the total expense. I remember hearing somewhere (and can't find the stat at the moment) that John Carter cost upwards of $100M to market on top of its purported $250M budget. I'm sure Disney would like to have saved some of their marketing cost by dumping the turkey earlier.

Re:Not very useful (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660397)

It can let you save the followup $200 million in marketing. There's no sense kicking a dead whale down the beach.

Re:Not very useful (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660527)

No, because this is after they're spent the marketing money, right up until the moment before the film is released. They're already made the trailers, sent out the posters, put up the billboards, ran the TV, radio and internet ads.

There isn't a lot of cost involved in leaving those posters on the theatre wall for a few weeks after the movie is released. That's the only money they'd potentially save.

Re:Not very useful (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660653)

They could still save considerable money on a month's worth of primetime television ads and potentially pull the plug on advertising in the rest of the world.

It would probably also make them hurry along any licensing deals so the ink can dry before the movie flops. That's not strictly honest, but I doubt it'll stop them.

Metrics will never be perfect (2)

steveha (103154) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660215)

Studying metrics on how often people edit Wikipedia is interesting, but cannot possibly tell the whole story. Some movies come out of nowhere and succeed.

For example, the quirky film Napoleon Dynamite [wikipedia.org] became a critical success and made a great deal of money, but you really need to watch it to get it. It has no famous actors, it isn't based on any previous brand, and there would be no reason for anyone to pay attention to it on Wikipedia before it was released.

I'm pretty sure that the Wikipedia metrics would have predicted that Napoleon Dynamite would be a total flop.

I remain hopeful that technology will reduce costs so that more really unique movies can be made. The more a studio is spending on a movie, the more the studio wants the movie to be "a sure thing" and thus like every other movie.

If the movie studios start using Wikipedia metrics to try to predict which movies will succeed, I sure hope they will only do that on big-ticket movies, so there is at least a chance for really new stuff to get made. Otherwise, the really new stuff will have to come from outside of the studios.

Why all the hate on Pluto Nash?? (2)

CCarrot (1562079) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660269)

I never did understand that...I mean, yeah, the plot, acting and special effects weren't top shelf, but frankly I felt that the same could have been said about Spiderman or Resident Evil: Apocalypse or Signs, all movies that also came out in 2002...in fact, I was so disappointed in Spiderman that I haven't even bothered to see 2 or 3 (is there even a third one now? Bleah, who cares?)

Basically I found it a fun, light story with a little action, a little (okay, very corny) humour, and a couple of interesting 'background tech' concepts (the body shop, pizza vending machine, cars, even the virtual pool table). The cameos were good, I really loved John Cleese's character as a smartass vehicle AI :) Overall, I wouldn't call it a blockbuster, but it's certainly no Ultraviolet...so why the extreme hate? It's basically Beverly Hills Cop set on the moon, is what the plot and acting felt like to me, and I always liked the BHC movies...

Meh.

Re:Why all the hate on Pluto Nash?? (1)

angelbar (1823238) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660469)

ok, ok, compare to Gigli then.

Value lost now that it is known (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660405)

I see people hiring people to edit pages-- paying people to have software "view" the pages.

Other means (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660445)

Isn't it easier to get more accurate results from say... Rotten Tomatoes?

I can predict all the Winning Lotto Numbers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660463)

..bummer being, its always *after* they are drawn, tho..

What prediction? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660499)

As soon as they can predict something, then it will be news.
Can somebody rename this story to "Wikipedia can correlate box office flops with page edits and views"

You know what else can predict box office flops (1)

slashdime (818069) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660525)

Getting some qualified critics other than a fucking yes man to go and watch the fucking movies. Movies are not a series of random numbers that may or may not sit well with the general population.

How fucking stupid that it resorts to this to know what makes a good movie or not. Get the fuck out of your industry if you need wikipedia to tell you how to do your job.

really? (1)

hurfy (735314) | 1 year,5 days | (#44660753)

When i looked at the chart in the article it looked to me like it had a hard time predicting the 'flops'.

Even then it seemed so compressed i am not sure how accurate any of it was.
If the prediction was $10 million and the dot is at about $40-50 mil, is that a good guess or a bad guess. None of the low end ones looked accurate. Seems to be one with a prediction of $1000 (huh!!!) and a result of $1 mil.

Now the studios will fake these metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660893)

As absurd as it may seem, the PR agencies working for major film studios frequently FAKE signs of early success for forthcoming movies. They seed forums with shills attempting to give the impression that people are really enthusiastic about the film, its stars, and other associated concepts. And why? Because they have the promotional budget, and no better idea about how to spend it.

So, film producers as savvy as Spielberg will immediately have their people use this information to blitz Wikipedia.

Real success tends to come from real quality. While dim-witted pseudo-intellectuals suggest that the success of populist or franchise movies is proof that the general audience lacks critical faculties, most successful blockbusters are clearly very well made movies. The proof of this fact is shown when Hollywood attempts to cynically clone the success of genre film X with something they are convinced must be similar, but that tanks at the box-office. Hollywood would be ecstatic if the audience was as dumb and easily pleased as the idiot 'film snobs' suggest.

Consider the desperate and hopeless attempts made by studios to emulate the success of 'Harry Potter', "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games". Crappy book franchise are acquired simply because the target teen demographics have apparently made them 'best-sellers'. Directors and actors with a solid track record are employed to make the film version. PR companies create fake enthusiasm for the movie. Film is released and flops (see 'Mortal whatsit: the whatsit of whatsit' for the latest example- and couldn't the moronic studio considered changing the title to something a potential cinema goer might have remembered?)

I see few 'flops' that deserved to do much better, and few successes that I thought deserved to flop, and this is regardless of my personal liking of each movie. Of course, Hollywood has ALWAYS respected the 'magic' of talent that knows how to get it right, and rewarded such talent with much increased trust. This is the Hollywood System- success breeds success. However Hollywood is capable of looking past simple financial success- go look at the directors that Disney's Marvel production company has entrusted to helm their movies.

The most depressing sight of this Summer was genre-fan-favourite director Guillermo del Toro humiliating himself in every interview for "Pacific Rim" by dribbling PR department enforced crap about how Summer blockbusters MUST be made for 12-year-old boys. Directors of repute are supposed to have higher artistic vision, not pander to focus-group 'research'. It is notable that del Toro RUINED the box-office of his movie in English speaking nations (where people got to hear him spout this dribble), but the movie was saved by audience response in nations like China.

This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,5 days | (#44660979)

...people don't talk about crappy movies.

Film at 11.

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