When Analytics Failed Hollywood (It Wasn’t the Analytics Fault)

When Analytics Failed Hollywood (It Wasn’t the Analytics Fault)

Back in 2013 there were a lot of films that went bust. Lets review five:

1. RIPD ($130M Budget | $78.3M)


2. Enders Game (Budget $115 | Box Office $87.9)


3. The Fifth Estate (Budget $28M | Box Office $8.5M)


4. 47 Ronin (Budget $175 | $152)

47 ronin

5. The Lone Ranger ($225M | $260M)

Lone Ranger.jpg

While Steven Spielberg predicted a Hollywood implosion, analytics did not. Blogger Nerval’s Lobster stated that Hollywood was,

“more reliant than ever on analytics to predict how movies will do, and even Google has taken some baby-steps into that arena with a white paper describing how search-query patterns and paid clicks can estimate how well a movie will do on its opening weekend, but none of that data seems to be helping Hollywood avoid shooting itself in the foot with a “Pacific Rim”-sized plasma cannon.”

I think that some of Lobster’s logic may be a bit underwater (I couldn’t help myself). It assumes that everyone in Hollywood is using analytics properly and it assumes that analytics can keep someone from making a poor decision.

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Let’s look at those in reverse order. A filmmaker that doesn’t know how to use analytics will derive very little from potential insights. Without knowing what you want to accomplish there is very little that can be gained from analytics. Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, data analytics or film analytics can only provide you insights. Its up to you to decide if those insights are right for your film.

But the bigger issue here is believing that Hollywood is using analytics well. Well, they’re not. At least, a lot of them are not. Denis Toth puts it this way in his blog post for CreditSpectrumCorp.com,

“OK, we all know the drill. The film industry is composed of a wide range of components that cannot be quantified and reduced to any form of statistical based analysis. That isn’t really true, but it is a deeply held belief in Hollywood.”

Monkey Frustrated.gifI love how later Dennis says that a pack of monkeys could do the job of some studio execs. It’s more true than they will admit to, because who would want to? In that situation you’re both ways. You’re always scared that lightning wont strike twice and you’ll be exposed as a fraud. You’re also scared that machines will come and do your job better, but again that’s not what analytics does.

Analytics generates insights so that a filmmaker can make informed decisions. That’s all. And if your goal is to make something audiences will love that’s not the same soul crushing big budget film in Hollywood analytics can help with that too. Get into analytics now, vecause the big guys are starting to catch up.

Let me know where you are with data analytics. How can I help you start using it in your films?

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