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You Pick the Winner!. You’re “doing lunch” with one of Hollywood’s top agents…. He’s pitching a hot new romantic comedy: Lead actor: young, attractive Academy Award winner Lead actress: successful performer (frequently one of “50 Most Beautiful People”)

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You Pick the Winner!

  • You’re “doing lunch” with one of Hollywood’s top agents…

  • He’s pitching a hot new romantic comedy:

    • Lead actor: young, attractive Academy Award winner

    • Lead actress: successful performer (frequently one

    • of “50 Most Beautiful People”)

    • Director with a number of recent hits

    • Both leads getting a lot of press

  • You need a hit…

  • Do you “green light” it?

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  • You just picked “Gigli”--one of the biggest bombs of 2003

    • Critics slammed it, nobody went to see it

    • Budget: $56 M to produce; millions more to promote

    • Box office: $3.8M opening weekend

      Welcome to Hollywood!

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How Possible Is It To Predict The Success Of A Movie Before Its Release?

By: Maren Fawkes

May, 21st 2004

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What Makes a “Good Movie”? Its Release?

  • Visually compelling

  • Audience identification with characters

  • Effective pacing

  • Consistent “vision”—one director, not a committee

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“Good Movie” Its Release?–Genre Requirements


  • Dynamic tension

    • Characters in peril

    • Seemingly unreachable goals

    • Unrequited love

  • Satisfactory resolution

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“Good Movie” Its Release?–Genre Requirements


  • Does the intended audience laugh?

  • Is something revealed through humor?

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“Good Movie” Its Release?–Genre Requirements


  • Imaginative staging,

  • effects

  • Real people

  • Pacing

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Commercial Success Factors Its Release?

  • “Star Power”—Movie & other celebrities

  • Built-In Audience–Sequels, series, crossovers

  • Market Trends–What’s hot, what’s not

  • Marketing–Creating anticipation & big opening

Studios rely on what’s worked before or elsewhere

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“Star Power” Its Release?

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Built-In Audience Its Release?

  • Translation to movies of popular books, comic strips, TV shows, video games, etc.

  • Sequels/series

  • Subject matter

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Market Trends Its Release?

  • Rise and fall of audience interest in different genres

  • Stressful times → nostalgia, escape

  • Changing demographics

  • Competitive intelligence

Hard to know what audience interest will be

in the 2-3 years it takes to make a movie…

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Marketing Its Release?

  • Advertising

    • Print media

    • TV ads

    • Trailers in theaters

  • Promotion

    • Interviews with stars

    • Previews for critics

    • Product tie-ins

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What Can Go Wrong Its Release?

  • “Artistic differences”

  • Mismatches

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Artistic Differences Its Release?

  • Personality clashes or competing visions:

  • – Director and producers

  • – Director and story or

  • screenwriter(s)

– Director and actor

– Actors and actors


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Mismatches Its Release?

  • No chemistry between lead actors

  • Wrong role for actor

  • Wrong time of release

  • Audience expectations

  • Bad marketing campaign

  • Demographic missed

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Warning Signs Its Release?

  • Director or key actors replaced

  • Delayed release, re-edit

  • Direct to video release

  • No promotion by stars

  • Large # of screenwriters

Watch out for films by “Alan Smithee”…

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Notable “Bombs” Its Release?

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Conclusion Its Release?

  • “How possible is it to predict the success of a movie before its release?”

  • Impossible to predict reliably

    • Execution failures

    • Marketing can at best create initial interest

    • Audience fickleness

    • Critical response

  • Consequences:

    • Movies are a powerful reflection of our culture,

      but commercial risk limits variety & opportunities