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This book explores the different factors that can influence a new movie’s prospects at the box office. Looking at factors such as the production budget, distribution model, genre, stars and audience reactions of films, Gunter asks how such aspects may reduce the uncertainties of success so common in the movie industry. The reader is taken on a journey through filmmaking factors that, research suggests, impact box office performance. While box office revenues represent only part of a movie’s earning potential, Gunter highlights how theatrical performances remain central to what the movie business is about. The chapters illustrate how ticket sales are largely influenced by the production budget but also cultural differences and new movie platforms.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Is Box Office Still Relevant?

Abstract
This first chapter sets the scene by briefly reviewing the history of movie-making and the growth of movie-going. Global trends in movie attendance are examined together with an initial introduction to interest among market analysts and researchers in understanding what factors underpin the success of a new movie. For many years, this “understanding” was underpinned by professional intuition and informal analyses of the performance of previous movies. Systematic economic modelling did not begin until the 1980s following which a significant literature developed revealing a wide range of potentially influential factors. Each of these is then examined in more detail in subsequent parts of the book.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 2. Are the Most Expensive Movies the Most Successful?

Abstract
One of the factors that has emerged as consistently related to the box office success of movies is the size of their budget. Regardless of the impact of other variables, when studios spend more money on movies, they generally get bigger returns. This predictor of movie success at the box office is not perfect, however. There have been big-budget movies that have flopped. Likewise, there have been small-budget movies that have generated huge profits. The dynamics of the budget size effects are examined along with exceptions and what might be learned from them.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 3. Is Studio Size Important to Box Office Success?

Abstract
Studio size has also been found to predict a movie’s success in cinemas. Big studios have better facilities and better established promotional and distribution networks. They can negotiate better deals through distributors with exhibitors. Studio size often means they can hire bigger stars and get the best directors and crew. These are additional factors, of course, that will also be separately examined in the book. However, despite the prevalence of many small independent producers, the market is dominated by a relatively small number of big players. Even big studios must make the right decisions in relation to their movie commitments and sometimes they can get it wrong.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 4. What About Distribution, Exhibition and Timing Factors?

Abstract
Distributors and exhibitors take over and determine where the movie is shown and how widely it gets shown. Exhibitors, who own and control the theatres, will also decide on the duration of a movie’s cinema run. The timing of a movie’s release is important as well. At peak holiday seasons, there are bigger audiences available. Yet there might also be more competition for eyes on screen from other movies. For distributors, a long cinema run means more money, but for exhibitors, declining audiences for a movie over time can mean less income. Cinema run durations must be planned to maximise financial returns from theatres and other distribution platforms such as video and TV.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 5. Does Marketing and Promotion Create Box Office Success?

Abstract
Promoting movies is a critical activity for setting a new movie apart from its competition. Advance advertising and trailers can give movie-goers tasters of what is to come. Information can be revealed about the movie’s genre, the type of story, its lead actors and about some of the key scenes and sequences it contains. Big studios can afford big promotional budgets and there is evidence that this is one factor that underpins the advantage that the major producers have over smaller ones. With the emergence of the internet and World Wide Web, new forms of promotions have become available. Digital platforms have enabled audiences to communicate more quickly and more widely their own initial experiences with new movies.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 6. Are Some Genres More Profitable than Others?

Abstract
Movies are classified by genre. Evidence has emerged over time that some genres tend to be consistently more successful than others. The popularity of specific genres, however, can often be subject to changes in public tastes and cultural fashions. It is important that a movie can be clearly placed in terms of its genre to enable audiences to determine what kind of movie it is and also how good it is of its type. Movies must stay true to their genres and not contain elements that for audiences seem to make a bad fit given the type of story they are expecting.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 7. Do Sex, Horror and Violence Sell Movies?

Abstract
Many movies contain depictions of a sexual, violent or horrific nature. These content features have been observed to play prominent parts in movie story-telling from the earliest days of the industry. The amount and intensity of sex and violence can also vary between genres. There is evidence that many cinema-goers enjoy watching scenes of violence and sex. Others do not. In general, however, these elements can add to enjoyment of a movie for many viewers provided they make a good fit within the film and are not inserted for purely gratuitous reasons. Yet, macro-level analyses of box office performance have revealed that while cinema-goers may express positive opinions about sex and violence in movies, such content does not always deliver better performance at the box office.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 8. What Is the Impact of Regulatory Classification?

Abstract
Advisory warnings are designed to let audiences know in advance about the type of movie a new movie will be. These warnings offer advice about the suitability of a movie for children to watch. In some cases, a movie might be deemed as suitable for all age groups and in others as suitable only for adults (that is, individuals aged 18 years and over). Other movies might be judged as suitable for children to watch, but only once they have reached a certain age (such as 12 or 15 years) or only when accompanied by an adult. More restrictive ratings can affect a movie’s performance at the box office because they exclude certain classes of viewers from seeing it.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 9. How Important Is the Screenplay to Box Office Performance?

Abstract
There is mixed evidence on whether original screenplays or adapted stories from other media are most beneficial financially to the movie industry. Most Hollywood movies are based on original screenplays. Yet, stories adapted from comic books or novels and even from television series, while occupying much smaller market shares, deliver higher average box office returns per movie. There is evidence that when deciding whether a story should get the green light to go into production, a well-known story that has already proven its popularity in another market will have strong appeal to movie executives. Their confidence in the box office potential of such a story might also persuade them to commit a bigger budget to production, which is also known to boost cinema attendance.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 10. Why are Sequels and Remakes So Popular with Movie Studios?

Abstract
Hollywood likes sequels and remakes. Sequels represent an extension of the adapted story effect. If a movie has been a huge box office hit and has the potential to be extended through further and continuing story development, sequels will be made. Sequels have proven to be successful in Hollywood in the twenty-first century thanks to the success of certain horror and science fiction franchises in the late twentieth century and the success more recently of super-hero stories derived from DC and Marvel comics. These movies have mostly been suitable for family audiences, meaning their advisory ratings were not overly restrictive. A sequel does not offer a magic formula to box office success, however. Movie series eventually run out of steam and must still display sufficient story originality with each new episode to keep audiences interested.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 11. How Significant Is Star Power?

Abstract
Star power has been regarded as a critical determinant of overall success. Close examination of box office data has confirmed that movies with the biggest stars deliver the biggest returns. However, stars do not always guarantee box office success, with some movies bombing even though their lead actors were very well known and among the highest paid. Even when their presence in a movie was prominent, questions could be raised about whether it was the actor who was central to a movie’s success or the fact that a movie studio spent more money on the movie when a big-name star was hired. Recently, star actors’ power has been diluted as movie-goers have been attracted more by big action sequences and special effects.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 12. Do Awards Make a Difference?

Abstract
Movies sometimes receive recognition for their excellence by their industry, by critics and by audiences. This recognition is celebrated at big awards shows, some of which are televised to mass, international audiences. Winning awards for best picture, best actor/actress and best director not only represent confirmation of quality but also attract a lot of free publicity for movies. If this publicity comes as the movie is beginning to wane at the box office after a run of several weeks, its box office returns can receive a boost. Research evidence on major awards such as Oscars or Golden Globes has indicated that they can influence box office performance in a highly positive way. Box office is most boosted by winning one of the big awards (Best Actor/Actress in Leading or Supporting Roles, Best Director and Best Picture).
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 13. What Is the Role of Critics’ Reviews?

Abstract
Professional critics provide synopses of movies as well as personal evaluations. Many cinema-goers consult professional reviews before going to watch a movie. Bad and good reviews can influence decisions to watch a movie. The effect of negative reviews tends to be stronger than that of positive reviews. Critical review effects are stronger when most professional critics agree between themselves. Where there are disagreements and different opinions being voiced, cinema-goers are then left to make up their own minds. There are country-to-country variations in the influence of professional critics’ opinions. It is important for any new movie to get off to a good start by pulling in big audiences during its opening weekend. Any negativity from critics that deflates opening audiences can generally degrade box office returns.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 14. How Important Is It to Get Movie-Goers Onside?

Abstract
The importance of audiences’ reactions to new movies has become all the more critical in the digital era in which many take to online micro-blogging and social networking sites to voice their opinions. In these environments, individual cinema-goers can enjoy readerships for their reviews that are every bit as big as those of the best-known professional critics. Opinions can also spread very rapidly or virally in the digital world. Negative opinions might therefore spread quickly enough when voiced by the initial audiences of a new movie to stymie its box office performance. The movie industry will therefore need to engage with this world of amateur reviewers to influence the nature and flow of opinion and develop promotional strategies that can respond quickly to any negativity.
Barrie Gunter

Chapter 15. Is There a Formula for Success?

Abstract
There is no magic formula for box office success for movies. Yet, there is ample research evidence to show that various key features such as genre, story type, release timings, star power, awards nominations, content choices and advisory ratings and critics and audience reviews, can be orchestrated to increase the chances of box office success. The emergence of the digital world has been game changing for the way audiences engage with movies. The movie industry is also global and big studios such as those in Hollywood must understand more about local cultural tastes and standards in specific national markets if they are to benefit from the additional income streams they can now provide.
Barrie Gunter

Backmatter

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