Back in May of this year, research was published that suggested a films success at the box office could be predicted by analysing the number of tweets about that particular film. This was then followed by another study suggesting that Wikipedia was instead the key to understanding box office success.
So it’s perhaps not surprising that another study, this time by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, suggests that blogging has a big part to play in movie success.
The researchers analysed the pre and post-release performance of 75 films released in 204 across 208 geographic markets within the United States. They were testing for nationwide consumer- generated blog volume; blog “valence”—a positive or negative sentiment written by a blogger—and studio advertising.
They found that blogs are especially influential in the younger demographic groups. They found that blog readers tend to be young, so the local readership will likely mimic the area’s demographics. If the population skews older, blogs will have less impact on moviegoers’ behaviour.
Gender also played a part, with regions with a higher proportion of women lowering box office performance, especially with regards to blog influence. More women equated to less sensitivity to blog sentiment, but also less sensitive to mainstream advertising. Younger people by contrast tended to produce a lot of blog content, but it wasn’t as influential, whereas high income markets were less responsive to both blogs and advertising.
So the moral seems to be that spending money advertising a film was not very effective in regions with high income, a lot of women and/or young people. Fertile areas for advertising however were markets with large white populations.
There were also some geographic trends noticed. For instance, markets with high responsiveness to advertising were concentrated in the Midwest, with the East Coast much more immune to the persuasive powers of an advert.
The areas most responsive to blogger buzz however included Denver, Los Angeles and Chicago.These rankings can provide studios with information on how to target release markets, especially if a movie is in limited release. For instance, if a studio wanted to generate pre-release buzz by having special events around a movie, Chicago and Denver would be smart markets to choose. And if a studio wants to market its advertising more judiciously, cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, or Marquette, Wisconsin, are smart bets.