## Jun 21, 2012

### Japanese Physicists Predict Success Of Movies At The Box Office

Japanese scientists have divined a mathematical model for what they call “The Hit Phenomenon.” By calculating the advertising budget of a film before it’s released, along with the amount of time a campaign runs and its word of mouth quotient on social media, a team from Tottori University worked to predict the success of such films as Spider-Man 3 and Avatar and then compared their findings to actual box office.

Why did "The Avengers" blow the roof off the box office, while "Battleship" sank to the bottom of the sea? Blame internet chatter. The number of times a film is mentioned in blog posts and social media strongly reflects how much money it is pulling in at the box office, according to a new model developed by Japanese physicists.

A group of Japanese scientists have surprised themselves by being able to predict the success or failure of blockbuster movies at the box office using a set of mathematical models.The researchers, published their study in New Journal of Physics.Their model was originally designed to predict how word-of-mouth communication spread over social networks, applying it to conversations about movies in particular, which was a success; however, they also found that when they overlapped their predictions with the actual revenue of the films, they were very similar.

It’s worth noting the relationship between social media hype and box office numbers were a strong correlation. That’s not to say that social media hype necessarily causes ticket purchases. During a period before a film release researchers could find a strong enough correlation that warranted validity in a mathematical model that can predict box office success by activities like comments and tweets sent out by the masses.

The team from Tottori University devised a set of mathematical models that measure how much money was spent on advertising before a movie is released, over what period of time, and how much talk the film generated in social media.Using the models, they predicted the popularity of a variety of blockbusters, including the Da Vinci Code, Spider Man 3 and Avatar, which they later compared to actual revenue generated.

The accuracy of this model surprised the researchers who made it. Normally one would not expect mathematics would be able to so well predict a human response, like going to a movie because they heard it was good. That is not stopping the researchers from investigating if the model can be applied to other things, including online music, soft drinks, and local events.