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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Demand for Movies

This graph was the starting point of the presentation by Luis Cabral at the first meeting of the NYC Media seminar series (which I highly recommend to media-minded academics). The full paper can be seen here. The X axis measures the box office performance of each movie shown at its opening week compared to the second best performing movie that week. The graph clearly shows that being # 1 on the opening week has a disproportionate effect for the intake of the movie over its full life-cycle. Concretely, while the average box office revenue is about $22 million, the #1 movie takes in on average $93 million. This boost comes from two effects. One is the effect of 'surprise', i.e. the revealed information that the movie is good. More importantly, the much larger second effect (accounting for about $45 million on average) is an awareness effect, i.e. free advertising for the movie in the press and elsewhere. The data contains about 10 thousand feature films released in U.S. theaters between Jan 1, 1982 and Dec 31, 2009. It is important to realize that this advantage only counts the box office revenues. If we were to count all derivative revenues for the movie, the advantage of being # 1 is probably much higher.

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