Dazzling Knowledge

Monday, December 04, 2006

Would it have picked Football in the Groin?

As if anyone needed more proof that movie producers are babbling imbeciles, some clown from Wharton has developed a computer program that picks profitable movies based solely on counting words and phrases in the script (actually, the spoiler).

To help studios and movie investors screen scripts, Eliashberg and his coworkers developed a new computer tool for forecasting the potential return on investment based only on the proposed storyline. For a given script, their tool applies natural language processing to extract key textual information and make a prediction.
Eliashberg and his coworkers didn't have access to movie shooting scripts in electronic form. To develop their script prediction tool, they instead worked with detailed, blow-by-blow movie summaries known as spoilers, written by viewers after they watch a movie. Each spoiler is about 4 to 20 pages long (see http://www.themoviespoiler.com/).

In the so-called bag-of-words model in natural language processing, a document is represented entirely by the words it contains and how many times each word appears, without regarding the order in which the words appear. Such a representation allowed Eliashberg and his coworkers to pick up the themes, scenes, and emotions in a script.

"For instance, the frequent appearance of words such as 'guns,' 'blood,' 'fight,' 'car crashes,' and 'police' may indicate that the script contains a crime story with action sequences," the researchers comment. "When this information is coupled with known box office receipts for the movies already made in the recent past, we would know if the movies of this type tend to sell well or not in theatres."


To test their model, the researchers used it to choose 30 movies from a set of 81, aiming for a superior investment package. The resulting portfolio had a total budget of $1,044.5 million and generated gross box office revenue of $1,996.8 million, giving the studios net revenue of $1,098.2 million (5.1 percent return on investment). In comparison, randomly selected portfolios of 30 movies had an average net loss of 18.6 percent. And portfolios that replicated a typical studio's slate returned –24.4 percent.

Whole thing here.


Blogger Chamomiles Davis said...

Weird bit of research. But I have to ask, how exactly does this prove that movie producers are babbling idiots, rather than Ivy League professors with apparently nothing better to do with their students' tuition money?

(On a separate note, Villanova 99, Penn 89. Look THAT up on your spoiler site, Wharton!)

5:13 PM  
Blogger tpotdomescandal said...

I was saying that producers struggle to pick successful movie scripts, but a relatively simple computer program can.

8:46 PM  

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