A research group at the Tottori University Department of Engineering in Japan, led by Professor Akira Ishii has developed a mathematical model to predict how films become ‘hits’.
“Why do we go to see movies? We may decide it looks interesting based on advertising, word of mouth, or overhearing conversations while walking, commuting to school or work, or maybe from people talking about the movie at the next table while eating in a restaurant. We tried to take these three elements and, using our sense of physics, express them in an equation. When we did, we found that the equation matches extremely well with actual trends within society.”
Professor Ishii’s research group found that for the 25 films they modelled, their forecasts of probable audience sizes very closely correlated with the actual results for those films, showing that the group could predict hits with pretty high accuracy.
“Currently the calculations are such that they can’t really be used other than by the students working in our lab. In the future we’d like to incorporate the equations into software that is easy to use by marketers or non-technical people that aren’t so familiar with mathematics. Our dream is that our software could be used by advertisers or for conferences in a broad range of industries.”
A paper on Professor Ishii’s mathematical model was published in the New Journal of Physics, here in the UK, on the June 15th, 2012. The story has also been picked up by more than 200 news organisations around the world, including the New York Times.