A team of Japanese physicists and mathematicians has developed a mathematical equation for predicting whether or not a movie will become a hit at the box office!
Detailed in their article, "The 'hit' phenomenon: a mathematical model of human dynamics interactions as a stochastic process" in the June 2012 edition of the New Journal of Physics, the new model replaces the traditional method of forecasting the likely revenue for a movie, which incorporates aspects such as advertising budget, strength of word-of-mouth, star power, quality, et cetera.
These aspects still have a role, but the innovation in the Japanese physicists approach is to incorporate data from social network systems, such as blogs, to quantify the less tangible aspects of the factors that influence whether or not a movie will become a blockbuster, at least at the Japanese box office.
One of the more remarkable findings of the research is that the number of positive blog posts about a movie can be used to project its revenue:
Daily blog postings for a movie are a very important signal to measure the movement of purchase intention among persons in the society. We measure the daily data of the number of posts for movies using the site Kizasi, which is a service for observing blog postings in Japan. We measure the number of blog posts for 25 movies in Japan in order to compare this information with the box office gross income for each movie in Japan....
Blog postings for each film can be distinguished into positive, negative and neutral opinions. A positive opinion means that the blogger wants to watch the film or judges the watched film in a positive way. In figure 10, we show that more than half of the blogs show a positive opinion for several movies. Moreover, we find that the ratio of positive, negative and neutral opinions is almost constant during the duration of the movie opening. Thus, the observed blog posting counts can be considered to be proportional to the counts of positive blog posts.
According to this observation, we propose to use the daily number of blog posts as the daily 'quasi-revenue.'. Quasi-revenue is very useful for analysis, because it can be defined even before the opening of the movie. We can observe the increase in anticipation of a movie.
And because they've worked out how to use the data from social networking systems to measure the anticipation for a movie, they can do very well in predicting whether a movie will actually become a hit, as well as what kind of longevity it might have if it does!