Wondering which Hollywood movie will be this weekend’s smash hit? Head straight to Twitter, as a new study (pdf) suggests the microblogging service offers the most accurate predictions of a movie’s success.
In a new paper about Twitter’s success at gauging a film’s fortunes, Sitaram Asur and Bernando Huberman from HP devised a simple model that tracks people’s tweets about a certain movie (for their study, they collected almost 3 million tweets). The researchers found that compared to the industry’s gold standard for movie success prediction, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, tweets were far more accurate in predicting how much money a movie would make.
The researchers’ system tracks the rate and frequency of movie mentions, and also categorizes the tweet reviews as either positive or negative. The Twitter findings reflect marketing realities, the researchers note: While movie studios can push people to the theaters with hype and pre-release marketing, it’s usually positive reviews and word-of-mouth that sustains people’s interest after a movie has been released.
“More science, less fiction” is the message from the scientific community to Hollywood, even as the sci-fi film Avatar continues to rake in cash at the box office. Physics professor Sidney Perkowitz took to the stage at last week’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to encourage more science in movies, but also to beg filmmakers not to bungle up their facts. For example, a movie should only be permitted to break one law of physics, he suggested.
Perkowitz, a member of the Science and Entertainment Exchange set up to advise Hollywood, singled out the giant space bugs in the film Starship Troopers for special scrutiny. He pointed out that if a real bug was scaled up to the size of the on-screen insects, it would collapse under its own weight. Perkowitz has come up with a set of scientific guidelines for Hollywood, and also encourages filmmakers to fact-check their scripts in a more deliberate manner so that audiences don’t dismiss a movie as absurd and stay away from the box office.
The Guardian reports:
The proposals are intended to curb the film industry’s worst abuses of science by confining scriptwriters to plotlines that embrace the suspension of disbelief but stop short of demanding it in every scene.