Internet Losers Predict Box Office Winners

[via waxy] Box office performance prediction models are a business school professor's best tool for drumming up consulting gigs in the entertainment industry they secretly wanted to get into in the first place. For a long time, my old Wharton professor, Jehoshua Eliashberg's model was the state of the analytical art. Now, he's got some competition.

According to Prof. Christopher Dellarocas and some other MIT quantjocks, including , the losers who rush home from the theater to post about the movie they just saw can accurately predict the film's box office take.

We're not talking about blogger-level losers, though, it has to be the down deepest dregs, the posters on Yahoo! Movies, for example, who best approximate the elusive "word of mouth" effect on a film's performance.

So now studio suits will sic all their interns on the message boards to talk up a film during its opening weekend, right? While Dellarocas doesn't make this false logical leap in the study itself , the NetworkWorld reporter gets him to wrongly conflate prediction and causation:

The study also highlights the potential for corporate mischief, given that these review-and-ranking sites are forums for what is essentially anonymous opining.

"Manipulation of forums will become some sort of arms race between studios," said Dellarocas.

Except, if the population of monkeys typing about The Day After Tomorrow is now only representative of the population of Los Feliz instead of the population of Los Estados Unidos, the forum's predictive accuracy will drop, right Professor?

Professor? That's Jake's trailer, professor, I don't think you're allowed in there...

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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