The New York Times Best Seller list is based on the number of books sold. Television ratings report how many people watched the program. Broadway World posts the number of seats sold for each show each week alongside the gross. Hell, you can see how many tickets each movie sold in Japan and France, yet in the domestic market (U.S. and Canada), we only get box office grosses. Box office is a measure of profitability, not popularity. Box office says the New Yorker who buys a $20 ticket for an IMAX 3D showing at the AMC Empire 25 is four times as important as the Illinoisian who buys a $5 ticket for a Sunday matinee at the AMC Mt Vernon 8. Let the accountants worry about revenue—I only care about how many people saw the thing.
Eventually I’d like to find a better way to rank the highest-grossing movies of all time, but this edition of Cinemath will start where most other box office statisticians do: adjust for ticket price inflation. More after the jump.
This week on Cinemath . . . Actually, this week it’s Telemath since the feature subject is the Emmys. The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards air next Sunday to honor the finest of the 2012-13 television season. It’s the perfect time to look back over six decades of Emmy history to examine how long Emmy winners and nominees stay on the air, when in that run they are first recognized by Emmy voters, how often a show is nominated or wins the Emmy after the first taste, and much more.
Hit the jump for answers to all the Emmy questions you never knew you had.
Movie tickets cost more than they used to, and audiences notice. In a 2006 Gallup poll, cost was cited as the number one thing Americans disliked most about going to the movies—41% of those who had seen at least one movie in the past year said going to the movies is too expensive. When the average ticket price rises, as it does just about every year, you see headlines that shout “Average Movie Ticket Price Is Highest Ever.” But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
This week’s edition of Cinemath compares the rise of ticket prices to the rate of inflation over the last five decades to see just how expensive $8.16 (the estimated average cost of a movie ticket in 2013) really is. More after the jump.
Cinemath is our semi-regular feature that combines the wonder of movies with the tedium of mathematical analysis. At least it is when I write it, and a year has passed since that has happened. To revive the feature, I declare this Cinemath Month: We will release a new article every Sunday until I run out.
This week’s edition examines the career of Woody Allen over the last five decades. Allen has directed 43 movies since 1966, and we tend to perceive his filmography subject to a particular arc. Allen warmed up with a few jokefests in the late 60s/early 70s, peaked with Best Picture winner Annie Hall in 1977, continued through the 80s and 90s as a critical darling, but has since struggled to produce at the level of his earlier work—save for a few hits like his most recent effort, Blue Jasmine. After the jump, we will see if the data on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes supports that narrative.
If you are at Collider, you probably watch a lot of movies. Based on our demographics, most of you have seen The Hobbit. A significant portion of you will see The Hobbit in 48 frames per second. Virtually all of you who do will think the higher frame rate looks strange, at least at first. And yet, Hobbit director Peter Jackson proclaims 48fps is the future of filmmaking. Critics are far from convinced, calling the new look “a gaudy high-definition tourist attraction” and “washed out and flat, yet unforgiving in its hyper-realism.”
Jackson’s push for 48fps (also known as High Frame Rate or HFR) has sparked a surprisingly heated debate over what seems like a relatively simple technological innovation. Although my first viewing of The Hobbit was a peculiar experience, I am a believer in 48fps. So after the jump, I examine the arguments for and against 48fps, the neuroscience behind the negative response, and what it will take for HFR to find widespread acceptance.
It is common to argue that there is a divide between critics and audiences. Critics prefer arthouse dramas, preferably in black-and-white; audiences like things that go boom. Thanks to countless explosions and few positive reviews, the Transformers sequels became a lightning rod for this argument. Compare the 35s of Transformers: Dark of the Moon: 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, $350 million at the domestic box office. Later in the year, a critical darling like Warrior (83% on RT) managed just over $13 million. Is this the general pattern, or are these exceptions to the rule?
For the latest entry of Cinemath, I crunched the numbers to answer this very question. Thankfully the answer is that good movies statistically do better at the box office. After the jump, I try to quantify this effect with an equation that predicts box office using the Rotten Tomatoes score, budget, theater count, plus whether the movie is a sequel and/or rated PG-13.
I know it’s 2012 and you’re ready to look forward to the new year. But if you can spare a few more minutes to look at 2011, I have a few things to show you about the yearly box office. What it lacks in timeliness, it makes up for in comprehensiveness. That’s the Cinemath way!
I looked at the domestic and international grosses of the wide releases of 2011 with a few questions in mind: Which movies had greater appeal overseas? Which genres were the most profitable? Which releases had “legs,” and kept audiences coming back week after week? After the jump, I break down the past year in box office every which way I can think of: by total gross, staying power, budget, studio, release date, genre, and MPAA rating. From Abduction ($28 million) to Zookeeper ($80 million):
While we are in the heart of awards season, I wanted to do something about the Oscars for Cinemath, our semi-regular feature that combines the wonder of movies with the tedium of mathematical analysis. This edition is inspired by something Eric D. Snider wrote in his writeup on Marty, the shortest Best Picture in Oscar history:
“Don’t expect that record to be broken anytime soon, either. Oscar winners are gettin’ longer, not shorter.”
That got me curious. That sounds reasonable, but could it also be statistically true? I went over to IMDB to check out the runtimes of Oscar Best Picture nominees from 1928-2010—while I was there, I grabbed data on the genres and public ratings to see what it takes to win Hollywood’s top honor. Hit the jump for the analysis.
I obsessively rate every movie I’ve ever seen on IMDB. I started doing this when I was about 20 years old, so there are gaps between my memory of my adolescent viewing habits and this list. But the record says I have seen 1,165 feature films, which must account for pretty much all of them. At the very least, it’s a lot of data, and I’d like to do something with it for Cinemath, my semi-regular* feature that combines the wonder of movies with the tedium of mathematical analysis.
Since the list is stored on IMDB, every movie I rated conveniently has the public rating right next to it. I am curious how often I agree with the public, and lucky for me, there are statistical tools to evaluate exactly that. So after the jump, see how my ratings compare to those of the IMDB voting public, along with a few graphs of my viewing habits.
It’s probably clear to you from my nightly journalistic incompetence, but my day job (at which I’m equally incompetent) is student research based in math and statistics. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to introduce a semiregular feature that combines the two worlds (Cinemath!), and Hollywood obliged this past week.
Universal Pictures and Relativity Media each spent the last year developing movies based on the Snow White fairy tale, both targeting a 2012 release. Relativity scheduled The Brothers Grimm: Snow White to be the first audiences see on June 29, 2012. Last Tuesday, Universal made the bold — and quite possibly idiotic — move of rescheduling Snow White and the Huntsman from December to June 1, 2012. This brand of cutthroat competition is hardly novel among movie studios, but the Snow White war serves as an illustrative case study for the strategic reasoning described in game theory.
After the jump, I explain how the battle between Universal and Relativity is mathematically identical to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
[Update: Relativity moved The Brothers Grimm to March 16, 2012. We must discuss this after the jump.]
I have to use words to write for Collider, but my heart will always belong to the numbers. And few things cinematic provide the sheer numeric power of the box office.
I wanted to take a look at how the 2010 releases performed at the box the box office. We report on the totals each weekend, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story. Which movies had greater appeal overseas? Which genres were the most profitable? Which releases had “legs,” and kept audiences coming back week after week?
And so, after the jump, I sort and break down the past year in box office into charts and graphs every which way I can think of: by total gross, opening weekend, genre, release date, studio, MPAA rating, and staying power. From Alice in Wonderland ($334 million) to Youth in Revolt ($15 million):