In Hollywood Not Even Computers Know Anything

from the does-not-compute dept

With so much Wall St. money going into Hollywood films, there’s a lot of interest in ways to figure how the business can be made more profitable. Investors would love to find a magic bullet to guarantee a hit, but that seems unlikely in light of the random nature of box office returns and the fact that not even big stars can guarantee a hit. We’ve written about people who claim to have developed software that will predict whether or not a song or a movie is going to be a hit. Now, more companies are getting into this space, saying that the science of neural networks is making this technology feasible. If this were true, it would be a fantastic breakthrough, as studios and record labels would release only the material that had a high likelihood of offering a substantial return. But unfortunately, there’s reason to be skeptical about this approach. The backers have scant evidence that it actually works, just a small sample of works that they claim (without independent verification) to have accurately predicted. Furthermore, even if the entertainment industry were able to put out only top-tier products, it would still face many of the same problems. At the box office, movies compete against one another for scarce screens and movie goers. By definition, not everything can be a hit, and so we’d still expect to see a high variation in returns. Instead of trying to divine what will be a hit using algorithms, business models based on letting people discover what they like, and letting that product flourish, are much more promising.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “In Hollywood Not Even Computers Know Anything”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Yet another excuse...

Yet another excuse for those Hollywood lame-o’s to abdicate any responsibility for putting hard work into finding, securing and nurturing creativity rather than just excreting the same formulas over and over again.

I wouldn’t take offense at this except for the fact that they still consider themselves “artists”.

Basically, they are trying to circumvent every part of the process except the part where they get money, and wonder why their popularity and success continues to dwindle.

Nobody says:


They could actually try to release movies staggered away from each other. 8 months a year there isn’t anything in a theater worth looking at 2 months at the beginning of summer and 2 months around December it seems like they release all of the decent movies.

By ramming their heads together and ramming it down our throats at the same time, they screw themselves.

Mike S. says:

To be honest, I could care less about how the industry makes their movies except to say that it would really stink if the movies ended up being long successions of Terminator-type movies that appeal to the masses but otherwise suck.

A large percentage of the movies I really enjoy were never box-office smashes, and there are plenty of examples of sleeper/cult hits that only begin making money after their initial run is over. Less movies that fit into these categories would make it past this filter.

I, for one, would be disappointed if this approach were ever honed enough to be used.

Anonymous Coward says:

OK, teenager wants to go to an R rated movie, but can’t buy a ticket for it because of their age. They buy a ticket to another show and just go to the R rated movie. Box office results are wrong, but no one really cares. The theater sells a ticket to a movie, so they collect. The studio makes its money off of the screening, not how many people actually saw the money.

How does the software work with that? What is defined as a flop might not really be a flop, and what is successful might not really be all that successful.

Sohrab says:

Plus another big problem is, movies can be a hit but still not make back their money. For example, Superman Returns indeed was a liked movie and still made over $200 Million, that is a nice milestone for alot of movies but still, due to the high costs of the movie, it still hurt the bottom line ($240-260 being the cost)

So sure, the prediciton could have been, Superman makes a good movie but end the end run, didnt mean it was a cash tree either

Chronno S. Trigger says:

No they don't

The studios make the money off the tickets, If they didn’t then they would just try to release to all the theaters that they can. For example, Artie Lange’s Beer League was released to three theaters with a possibility of more IF it makes $1mill+. If they only got money from the screening than they would already know how much money would be made. It didn’t make the 1mill so its going to DVD.

As for this program it may be accurate. If the terminator like movies aren’t something that people really like but everyone watches than its doing its job. If everyone likes the movie but no one goes to see it, its still a flop. As for music has anyone really heard what is really popular “I’m Bringing the sexy back” by Justin Timberlake? (#1 last I heard)

Anonymous Coward says:

Blockbuster predictions ...

So they can predict which songs and movies will be hits?
Hell, I can do that …

Popularity != Quality

Too bad they can’t find talent and creativity through neural networking technology …

As for “I’m Bringing the sexy back”, I think that if you simply loop a bunch of catchy tracks together and mix ’em up a bit … you can just ram it down most young american’s throats.

Mr.Obvious says:

I am a pure Metal head by nature but for some damn reason when I here that song”Bringing Sexy Back” I find myself singing it in my damn head.It has a catchy beat and the lyrics aint bad.And love him or hate him look at the booty that boy has gotten a hold of.Britney Spears,Janet Jackson,Alyssa Milano,Cameron Diaz,and the list goes on.He might be a sissy boy but he sure the hell gets laid enough by being what he is.Why do these boy bands and pop stars make so much loot and sell records,because girls loose their friggin minds over them.Hell if I looked like him I would be singing,dancing,or what ever it took to make the cash and get the booty he’s bringing in.And anyone who says they wouldn’t are liars or are just fooling themselves.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...