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The Hit Phenomenon?: Japanese Scientists Create Model To Predict Box-Office Success

Japanese scientists have divined a mathematical model for what they call “The Hit Phenomenon.” By calculating the advertising budget of a film before it’s released, along with the amount of time a campaign runs and its word of mouth quotient on social media, a team from Tottori University worked to predict the success of such films as Spider-Man 3 and Avatar and then compared their findings to actual box office. “They appeared to match very well, meaning the calculations could provide a fairly good prediction of how successful a movie could be even before it is released,” said the Institute of Physics, which published the paper in the New Journal of Physics today. The scientists used the model to calculate the likelihood of an individual going to see a movie in a Japanese theater over a period ranging from 60 days ahead of a movie’s release to 100 days after the opening. Although the study was based on the Japanese market, its lead author, Akira Ishii, told Agence France Presse he thinks the model is “very general. It will work in other countries as well.” He also noted a key benefit of the formula is that companies can calculate the best time to spend advertising dollars. Hollywood could soon get its chance to plug in the formula as AFP says there are hopes to make it commercially available.

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Ron Howard Won’t Complete Dan Brown Trilogy; Sony Now Looking For New Director

EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard directed and produced both of Sony Pictures’ films based on Dan Brown’s bestselling novels, The Da Vinci Code (in 2006) and Angels & Demons (2009). Now I’ve learned that the Imagine Entertainment principal will not be directing the next movie based on Brown’s 2009 book The Lost Symbol which is a follow-up to the events described in Da Vinci Code. “He wanted to produce this one, not direct,” a Sony insider tells me. So Sony Pictures has started looking for a new helmer. Like the two other books made into films, this third one stars Tom Hanks as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. “Ron told Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton that he was not going to be directing Dan Brown’s novels anymore,” an insider tells me. “He just didn’t want to do that thing over and over, the same character and the same stories.” But if you look at Howard’s box office track record as a director since his Oscar-winner A Beautiful Mind (2001), the Dan Brown films were his most successful with such wide release movies as Missing, Cinderella Man, and The Dilemma all underperforming. He could use a surefire hit. After all, The Lost Symbol sold 1 million hardcovers and e-books in the U.S., the UK, and Canada on its first day, making it the fastest-selling adult novel in history.

Interestingly, Sony Pictures is making a Somali pirate drama starring Tom Hanks as … Read More »

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Random House’s Strong Half-Year Results Driven By ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Sales

Mike Fleming

Anyone who doubts the potential of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo need look no further than how the half-year earnings of Bertselmann and its Random House division were positively impacted by the sales of the Millennium novel trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson. Bertelsmann issued its half-year report this morning, and cited the performance by Random House as a big reason for its own record half-year results.  According to a letter sent company-wide by Random House chairman/CEO Markus Dohle, the publisher’s sales were up nearly 8%, and profit doubled to around $50 million on revenues close to $1 billion, despite a shaky economy.

The reason? Dohle singles out the sales of the Larsson trilogy, which Random House publishes in the U.S. and Germany. “Their cumulative 6.5 million-copy impact on our overall half-year figures is substantial, and Larsson’s print and digital sales continue to skyrocket,” Dohle writes in the memo. “Stieg Larsson is the first author ever to sell one million e-books on the Kindle. This additional e-book revenue and readership opportunity is just one of the many reasons we are so excited about our robust digital-publishing momentum.”

The e-book results for the half year are showing how important digital sales are becoming to the bottom line of all publishing houses. Dohle said worldwide digital sales are on course to exceed $100 million. The first half results were up 300% for Random House in the U.S. A majority of … Read More »

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